Amos 9:13-15, loosely

Declaration of Yahweh:
Hey! Look out! Pay attention! Listen up!
Here’s what will happen in the days to come:
Your fields will be so thick with grain
Shimmering gold in waving oceans
You won’t have time to harvest it
In the months before it’s time to plant again.
You’ll still be treading the grapes
When the new ones are planted —
This crazy, abundant shalom —
Beyond any bacchian revelry
Beyond our deepest dreams
The mountains will drip sweet wine
It’ll flow in rivers down the hills
The land itself will celebrate!
And how could it not?
I’ll restore the fortunes of my people
And the ruins of the cities once so beautiful,
Then so heartbreakingly desolate
Will be rebuilt, filled with life again.
They’ll plant vineyards and drink the wine
Plant gardens and eat their fruit.
I’ll plant them like a tree, deep-rooted
Nourished on their own land
Never to be uprooted or displaced
Never again to be afraid.
So has it been spoken, so shall it be done
By Yahweh, your God.

From the Aftermath

It was a war weary week
Days filled with nightmare news
Bombshells of death, destruction, devastation
So by the end we’re exhausted
Eyes reflecting aching hollows
Broken and haunted by fallen comrades
Too badly hurt to comfort well.

Still, we stand together
Family forged in battle heat
Shoulder to shoulder on the line of fire
It’s rough and hurts like hell
But we aren’t going anywhere
Buttressed as we are by the armies of the heavens
Behind, beside, before.

Oh Father! I cried, gasping
In the midst of mud and blood and tears
Struggling just to breathe against the dark
Almighty King of time and space
Please send Your countless forces
For we are frail against such evil.

And You heard, and answered.

Not only angelic hosts, for it’s too small a thing
But You sent Your own Son
Very God taking on mortal flesh
Living on this shattered planet
And facing all of our sorrows
Even to death on a cross!
So He undid our enemy.

In the battle, with tired hands,
I will cling to this truth
Knowing that You’re holding on to me.
Whatever I face, You’ve already conquered
No darkness too deep, no evil too awful
Everywhere is already taken territory
And victory’s assured.

Post Funeral

Left us all off balance,

Gaping hole that tears don’t fill,
Dark chasm that words can’t bridge.

Instead we scramble for a moment of peace
Knowing that laughter can happen even now
All tied up with the crying.

Remember when…?
You left so many stories
Far too many barely begun.

Rough day, rough week
No one wants to wake up
To get ready for a funeral.

I’m thankful for prayers
For hugs to lean into
That say we’re all in this together.


You were going to show me a picture — did you forget? —
But neither of us had time just then
So I pressed the baguettes into your hands and the door closed.
And now you’re gone, no chance to say goodbye.
No answers for any of us, just questions, shock, tears, anger
How could you leave like this, and why? Is that okay to ask?
When I close my eyes, I see you laughing
Had you done that less these last few weeks?
It seems like I could touch you if I just reached out my hand
Like I can hear our routine script of silly questions, lame jokes:
Where would you like this?
In my stomach!
Happy birthday!

And I —
Oh God, I just don’t understand. None of us do.
Couldn’t it be an awful joke?
The words come out so blunt and raw: He’s dead.
No way to cushion, comfort, prepare.
Dead. I’m sorry.
Your hands that made me food —
I didn’t dream they’d cause your death.
So many things that I want to say:
We prayed for you! We loved you! We will all miss you so much!
But the tears fill my eyes and words can’t fill this silence.
So instead I’ll say
Goodbye, friend; thanks for looking out for us like we were family.
Thanks for…
But there are too many things:
The food, the laughter, the random conversations, the sympathy.
So close, but too far, the other side of a barrier we cannot reach through —


Held together, woven by, shot through
with words.
That’s the storied pattern of my life.
Undergirded, frameworked, sustained
by the Word.
And so my heart aches for the familiar shapes
of Greek letters on a page: η χαρις μεθ’ υμων.
The marching rhythm of Latin verbs:
Amo! Amas! Amat!
I learned long ago to love.
My fingers move to space words into air
My hand form what my lips fail to say.
I miss the lilting, easy singing of Spanish:
Puedes creer que su mano esta en ti
How we blended it with our native tongue,
Kids growing up a week at a time.
The songs in Hebrew still spill from my lips:
Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu.
And then came Asia
Phrases laden with memories, laughter, tears.
Zhe shi shenme?
Wan an, wo ai ni.
Ghia! Xiaowei!
Sawahdee-kah —

And here I am, back in America
Flesh and blood forged in a fire of words
Being molded into the image of the Word.

[Greek: Grace with you
Latin: I love, you love, he loves//I have loved.
Spanish: You are able to believe that His hand is on you
Hebrew: May the One who makes peace in the heavens also make peace for us.
Chinese: What is this? //Good night, I love you.
Minnanyu: Come on! Crazy!
Thai: Hello.]

dreaming of heaven

our imaginations aren’t great enough
(do you dare to dream wild?)
how could an unborn child even think
of all its life to come?
sunshine, friendship, homework, heartache
categories it cannot know, not yet.
we cling so hard to our present life
unwanting of the day that inevitably will come
when our eyes close a last time
and we cross the river alone
into a world unknown.