A Sunday Spring Morning

Margaret rises early
on a Sunday spring morning
to cut fresh flowers
in the first light

With worn hands
that worked the soil
and planted the bulbs
she arranges them in a vase

Not haphazardly
or without a thought
but with intention
she places each one

As she does
behind her breath
she honors
each one’s beauty

But it is not for her
and her alone
she arranges them
just so

For to church they’ll go
like a beloved companion
to sit in their own place
in the sanctuary

Folks arrive
and observe
the spring flowers
placed upon the Lord’s table

A witness themselves
to the Creator’s goodness
and a proclaimer
of the good news itself

For what more
can the preacher say
than the flowers
on the altar

Of the beauty and the love
which is bound to blossom
from the God in whom
all things are possible.

Note: Margaret Craighead was a faithful and beloved member of my wife Terry’s first congregation, the Old Auxvasse Nine Mile Presbyterian Church, located in Callaway County, Missouri.

Lent is a Way of Praying

Lent is a way of praying
at first without words
with breath drawn
with breath released

Lent is a way of praying
in the quiet stained-glass light
in the confines of the driver’s seat
as one step is taken and then another

Lent is a way of praying
with eyes tightly shut
with attention on inside
with attention on above

Lent is a way of praying
with eyes open wide
to see what needs attention
to see God’s intentions

Lent is a way of praying
with words carefully chosen
with words haphazard and jumbled
with sighs too deep for words

Lent is a way of praying
for the world
with the world
in spite of the world

Lent is a way of praying
for you and all of yours
for me and all of mine
for us and all of ours

Lent is a way of praying
a little prayer here
a little prayer there
until all, everywhere, is prayer.

A Different Story

winter lingers
with its wind and cold
wanting to persist
tenacious and bold

but the birds tell a different story
their songs melodious and light
arriving to sing-in the new season
their notes uplifting and bright

and the crocus too defies the cold
pushing with persistence from the darkness below
unfurling delicately despite the hard soil
a beauty that melts the dusting of snow

when I am restless, tired and weary
I long to listen in the darkness of night
amidst uncertainty and looming despair
for whispers of good news subtle and slight

for a different story among the stories
that sings with truth despite the strife
a story of peace and harmony and beauty
of grace and love and abundant life

Lent is a Way of Seeing

Lent is a way of seeing
to open my eyes
to widen my perspective
to broaden my outlook
to peer beyond the horizon
to squint for signs of hope

Lent is a way of seeing
God in the ordinary
God in the mundane
God in the extraordinary
God in the surprise
God in the small and the wide

Lent is a way of seeing
when darkness persists
when light is veiled
when the way is hidden
when uncertainty lingers
when chaos encircles

Lent is a way of seeing
the possibilities of today
the possibilities of tomorrow
the possibilities for me
the possibilities for you
the possibilities for us

Lent is a way of seeing
Christ in the cosmos
Christ among the crowd
Christ in the least
Christ as the center
Christ as the whole

Lent is a way of seeing
where I fall down and fall short
where I cannot see or refuse to see
where I am from and where I am going
where the way is narrow and necessary
where the One is leading and leads to the One

Lent is a way of seeing
broken bread and poured out wine
broken body for a broken world
broken grip of the doom of death
broken world born anew
broken hearts surprised by good news.

Lent is a Way of Walking

Lent is a way of walking
A walk with myself but not for myself
A walk in the world but not of the world

Lent is a way of walking
A walk of discovery as much as destination
A walk with detours and distractions

Lent is a way of walking
A walk that leads me by still waters
A walk that sets my feet on stormy waters

Lent is a way of walking
A walk of sight and sound and senses
A walk by faith and not by sight

Lent is a way of walking
A walk with the One who determines the path
A walk with the One who is the path

Lent is a way of walking
A walk along lakeshores and high atop mountains
A walk along byways and valleys of shadows

Lent is a way of walking
A walk alone
A walk with the company of the saints

Lent is a way of walking
A walk among the haves and the have-nots
A walk with the getting ahead and the letting go

Lent is a way of walking
A walk to the cross
A walk bearing a cross

Lent is a way of walking
A walk to empty myself
A walk to an empty tomb

Lent is a way of walking
A walk of life abundant
A walk to life eternal.

A Tree in Winter

What is a tree to be in winter?
I wondered on a snowy sabbath day.
Seemingly stoic and obviously bare
what else might a tree consider?

From what I can see and certainly surmise
there is more to a tree than appearance.
For along its trunk and among its branches
there are happenings that are sure to surprise.

The squirrels are about with total abandon
running and jumping without reservation.
The fallen snow covering the branches
leaves pattern that are anything but random.

Moss upon the bark survives
its green a welcome sight for the eyes.
The buds that tip the ends of the limbs
promise that spring is soon to arrive.

What is a tree to be in winter?
I wondered on a snowy sabbath day.
As the good Lord made it I surmise
and for all of creation the better.

The Landing Below

it is early autumn and change is in the air
as days shorten and leaves fall
I’m left with the questions of what to do and dare

sleep beckons in the sudden coolness of the night
to go and slip under covers
is the temptation before me to stay out of sight

yet while the light lingers I should rise and find the way
that takes me out and beyond
the place I can no longer stay

for the leaves tell a story real and true
that beauty is found
when the darkness descends before something new

where the fallen leaves gently lay
bright flowers will bloom tomorrow
beauty reborn in the newness of day

what beauty in me will fade with the night
so that something new can emerge
when the time is right

for an end is not the end but only a new beginning
the loss a part of what is becoming
as the Creator keeps the universe beautifully spinning

beauty is the seed within me that will grow
as I dare to let go in the lingering light
may I fear neither darkness nor the landing below

The Webbed World

in early dawn light
from within to without
one can see through
the kitchen window
to the webbed world outside

the intricate strands
in the motionless air
catch the light
and radiate so
I can see before and beyond

the builder is out of sight
away for the time yet near
still captured is my gaze
and my contemplation
of the wonder and the meaning of it all


I see now
through the glass more clearly
to the reality in the reality
that connects me
to the webbed world outside