Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Washed into the doorway
by the wake of traffic,
he wears humanity
like a third-hand shirt
–blackened with enough
of Manhattan’s dirt to sprout
a tree, or poison one.
His empty hand has led him
where he has come to.
Our differences claim us.
He holds out his hand,
in need of all that’s mine.

And so we’re joined, as deep
as son and father. His life
is offered me to choose.

Shall I begin servitude
to him? Let this cup pass.
Who am I? But charity must
suppose, knowing no better,
that this man is a man fallen
among thieves, or come
to this strait by no fault
–that our difference
is not a judgment,
though I can afford to eat
and am made his judge.

I am, I nearly believe,
the Samaritan who fell
into the ambush of his heart
on the way to another place.
My stranger waits, his hand
held out like something to read,
as though its emptiness
is an accomplishment.
I give him a smoke and the price
of a meal, no more

–not sufficient kindness
or believable sham.
I paid him to remain strange
to my threshold and table,
to permit me to forget him—
knowing I won’t. He’s the guest
of my knowing, though not asked.
                        Wendell Berry

people come to us from everywhere
from Guatemala, and Venezuela,
from Syria and South Sudan
from Myanmar and Somolia

the come the lands of poverty
from rural byways in the deep south
from behind the sage brush curtain of the west

from the depths of great cities
where urine soaked back allies
and littered doorways are called home

they wash up to our doorways

wearing their poverty
their hunger and exhaustion like a dirt shirt
weighed down by hopelessness and fear

chased by contempt and shaming
neglected by those who are
too comfortable, too important, too busy
to stop, to see, to listen, to care

those busily on their journeys
to church,
or work

those who will not offer a glance
but stare stolidly ahead
head down
rushing through life

to whatever is next

rushing past hoping not to see

some offer a sort of welcome
a token gesture
a coin tossed

help offered at arms length
just enough to feel righteous
but not embrace

just enough to satisfy the conscience
and that strange Sacred pull
that comes from deep with in
that comes from Sacred Presence

a quick handout, a furtive meal
a scrap of cloth, a voucher
so one can hurry on our way
or hurry them on their way

Out of sight
And out of mind

Ah Lord
that is not the way it is supposed to be
you wish to ambush our hearts
interrupt our lives

you want us to stop
and turn aside
to kneel in the dust like the Samaritan
who was good

to see, listen, engage
to offer our hand
to welcome the stranger
to our table, across our threshold

we know all the reasons not to
it is scary and costly
and our minds scream that this one
who is in such a place
got there on her own

earned his discomfiture

we hide behind fear
and use merit as an excuse

but still You call us to welcome
and embrace

Ah, God who is Love
help us to understand
that this one who holds out her hand
his hand

is joined to us at the heart
do not permit us to forget
this one
whom we have found along our way
this guest
who has shown up
at the threshold of
our heart

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