Arts

The Arts section of Orient Lodge

The Story

We are an improv team
telling our common story
about the elephant in the room.

We talk about
the trunk and the tail
the flank and the legs
and the gifted
might even
describe how various parts
are connected.

We are an improv team
telling our common story
about the elephant in the room.

and the way we tell the story
shapes us
and shapes those around us
as we try to understand
what is unique;
what is universal.

We are an improv team
telling our common story
about the elephant in the room.

It is a story about
birth
and death
and joy
and suffering
and still
we have problems
understanding
how the various parts
are connected.

We are an improv team
telling our common story
about the elephant in the room,

and by telling the story
we create meaning
and healing.

(Categories: )

The Snowflake

I pause to consider
the snowflake
that has landed
on the handle of my shovel.

Was it part
of the waters
that were separated
from the dry land
on the third day?

Was it part
of the sweat
that fell from Adam’s brow
after he was cursed?

Was it part
of the great flood
God sent
to destroy corruption?

Was it part
of the river
that brought
the infant Moses
to Pharaoh?

Was it part
of the Red Sea
that Moses
parted
providing a path
for the Israelites?

Was it in the Jordan River
when Jesus was baptized
or in the jars of purification
at the wedding feast?

Was it part
of the water that flowed
from the pierced side
of Jesus?

Did it irrigate
hazelnut trees
in the time of Julian
in Norwich?

And what will become of it
after it melts,
flows into the pond
and rejoins
the great cycle
of evapotranspiration?

“It lasts
and ever shall
for God Loves it”

Making Eden Great

Now the serpent was more crafty
than any of the wild animals
the LORD God had made
and he said to Adam and Eve,
“I’m going to make Eden great again.
I will be the greatest president
that God ever created.”

When they heard the boasts
and found them pleasing to the ear,
they cast their vote for the serpent
and elected him their leader.

Then they heard the sound of the Lord God
walking in the garden
and they were afraid,
so they said to the serpent,
build a wall to keep us safe
and drive out those who are different from us.

When the Lord heard this he said,
“Because you have done this
by the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

Yet still the serpent boasted
“and when I return to dust,
I’ll be the greatest dust ever”,
and the serpent’s daughter
made fancy clothes
that were too expensive
and nobody liked
and tried to sell them in the stores.

And so the serpent started working on his agenda
And he attacked the judges and reporters
That thwarted or criticized him
And he said
“Nobody knew that healthcare
could be so complicated.”

Virgin Mary Crushing a Snake

In Orthodox iconography
we often see
the bare foot
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
crushing a snake.

It is a symbol
of her victory over evil
her willingness
to be a servant
of compassion.

In recent years
the snake has been co-opted
in alt-right iconography,
a symbol of defiance
and fierce independence
leaving little room
for servanthood
to compassion.

Don’t tread on me, Mother Mary.

Water and Presence

Note: This is an assignment for the English Spirituality and Mysticism course I'm currently taking:

I was very excited to read this week’s assignment to write a Celtic prayer. Poetry is an important part of how I express myself, and I’ve really enjoyed reading the Celtic Poems and Prayers. I misread the assignment and ended up writing two different prayer poems which I am sharing here. As part of the exercise, I’m including the poems for everyone to read.

Water

Blessed Father, pour us down upon the earth,
like the winter rains in times of darkness,
like the spring rains reawakening the fields,
like the summer rains nurturing the crops.

Blessed Jesus gather us together,
in small pools of community,
in streams of Peregrini,
in the mighty ocean bringing changes.

Blessed Spirit draw us back to you
like the dew rising up off of the fields
like the mists of the moors
like the blown spume of the ocean.

Some of the themes from Celtic Christianity I’m trying to incorporate: The importance of water. This poem uses water as a metaphor for our relationship with God. The Trinity. Following the example of other Celtic prayers, it is addressed to each member of the Trinity. Darkness. I only really touch on darkness in the first part of the poem, but the references to the ocean also meant to invoke thoughts about glas martyrs. Peregrini. I bring in the idea of being an exile for Christ, or the journey. Community. I also bring in references to community, which seems so important to me in Celtic Christianity.

Presence

Father, creator help me to see you
in everything you’ve created,
in the wolf of St Francis,
in straw of Brother Lawrence,
and in the mud puddle at my feet.

Jesus, savior remind me of how near
the kingdom of heaven has come
in the people around me
the ill,
the sinners,
and all of us caught up in our daily tasks.

Spirit, sustainer guide us on our journeys
wherever they are leading.

Like my first prayer poem, this one also focuses on members of the Trinity. Another key focus on this is panentheism and God being present in the creatures and other things created around us. I step away from Celtic Christianity a little by invoking Saint Francis and Brother Lawrence, but both of them seem to me to be part of the same approach to spirituality. I also bring in the aspect of the journey, without a clear destination which seems so important to me. I break with the first two stanzas which each have three examples of what I’m talking about in the stanza when I get to the final stanza. It helps communicate in an additional way, the uncertainty and incompleteness of the journey.

For me, writing is a very contemplative experience. I mostly compose poems in my mind, mulling them over and over before I put them on paper. Then, I spend time revising what I’ve written. So the practice of writing and sharing these prayer poems has a nice combination of contemplation and action.

Celtic Christianity as I’m understanding it right now, feels very comfortable and familiar to me, giving me words and constructs that match how I approach life, prayer, and writing.

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