Several people at Cahoots suggested I publish the poem that I shared at Sunday morning worship… and I realized, I actually have a lot of stuff like it that I’ve never shared beyond my community! So, here’s my new blog. I make no promises about posting regularly, but I’ll publish the best of the poems, songs, reflections and prayers that I write. If you want to share any of it with your church, study group, class, etc. please get in touch! I won’t say no, I just want to know where my stuff travels and that it’s credited.
So here’s the poem I wrote for Cahoots (I’ll try to do a voice recording soon). Shout-out to Brian Walsh and Steven Bouma-Prediger, whose book Beyond Homelessness planted a seed three years ago, the last time the odd pairing of the story of Naboth (1 Kings 21) and the story of a woman anointing Jesus’ feet (Luke 7: 36-8:3) came up in the lectionary.
Home is the place where you know the dirt,
where you’ve stood in the rain and smelled the fresh earth,
watched the sun rise, and seen the grass grow,
buds open, flowers bloom, leaves fall, first snow.
And the winds come and go, and the seasons go ’round,
and before you know it, your heart has found
a place to rest; to put down roots, to build your nest,
to sink your sweat and tears and years,
to ground your dreams and hopes and fears,
to learn to live with the ones you love best –
time smooths the way and love does the rest.
The years pass, the trees grow, but the dirt stays the same,
and you learn the bugs and the birds by name,
the signs and the seasons, the rhymes and the reasons
of the place you call home
where you’ll raise your children to love the land,
to splash in the creek and play in the sand,
and walk in the woods, be they vast or small,
and know and care for their neighbours all.
You live and you love on a small patch of ground,
and make your own music to banish the sounds
of hate and despair and greed and war
but someday they may come and knock down your door
and you freeze, or you flee, you fight, or you weep,
and nightmares invade the haven of sleep.
So much is lost; is there anything left?
All your heart knows is an aching cleft
between then and now, rich and poor,
a place to call home and another closed door.
And you walk, or you swim, or you wait by the road,
or you suffer in place, if you’ve nowhere to go.
You cling to life and hope your strength holds,
you wonder how each new day will unfold,
and you toil and hope and fear and wait
with no solid ground beneath your feet.
Yet perhaps in exile you still find grace
in an outstretched hand, a friendly face,
and your heart breaks open to the light above
as you dare to take the risk of love.
And you start to make home in a strange new place,
in the little scraps of in-between space
where eye meets eye and hand joins hand,
and your feet find rock beneath shifting sands.
Home is not walls nor paper deeds,
home is washing a stranger’s feet.
Home is proclaiming your loyalty
to a king of the poor and the suffering.
Home is shedding long held-back tears
and finding the courage to stare down your fears,
to let down your hair amid those who cry shame,
and wait for the one who remembers your name,
for then you’ll be free wherever you go,
then deep peace can take root and grow,
then you’ll carry your home in your soul.