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Lent

Common Passion

(x = space)

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Common Passion

(Lent)

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O God, our help

Help me

Christ will be entering

Jerusalem soon

That’s too much for me

I wouldn’t go

I don’t like crowds

And as for all the blood

That follows

There was a crowd for that

As well

I’m not sure

Where I fit in

In the Passion story

To hear it, I suppose

Find my way to talk about it

Wish so much of it

Had not happened,

Starting with the first

Beating

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Who are you?

What is your authority?

What is truth?

Skeptic questions

Without the thorns,

They could be honest

Without the torture

One might really want

To know

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We can ask

Without all that

It’s been done for us

As story

As clean pages in a book

That might get stained

With water

Or with coffee

Accidents happen

So does providence

A week away

We’ll find out how it goes

I’ll take the quieter vantage point,

Thank you

After the crowds have gone

Maybe I’ll get a glimpse

Of the body

As it’s taken

Or the bodies of the thieves

Taken to paupers’ graves

Most likely,

Since there were no placards

On their crosses

Or on mine

Or maybe yours

Who were they?

Who am I?

Who are we?

We die without accord

Because no one knows

Our faces

Or our places

We die in a city at

The center of the Earth

Too much is happening there

Move on

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C L Couch

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Photo by 𝗔𝗹𝗲𝘅 𝘙𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘳 on Unsplash

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Slow Season

(x = spaces)

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Slow Season

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Lord,

It is Lent

Moving slowly as it should

Forty days or so

In a couple weeks, Palm Sunday

Triumph and then the Triduum

Days of friendship

And of torture

For our Lord

For you

Ignominy

Then death

Then in the earth

Like a seed that has no merit

As no growth is expected,

Behind a stone

In fact

Lent closes over

That way

While we wait

Not knowing

We should wait for anything

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2

Half the world is at war

My God,

What do we do to each other?

What grace is kept

Withheld

Like a body in a tomb

We’d try not to open

For fear of the revenant

We’d find inside?

Forgive us, anyway

Save us, anyway

By something so, so precious

That in the world we cannot escape

That finds us

Even though we say

Get away,

I want no part of you

Before the rooster crows

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3

And what is grace

But something sliced

Through everything

That it is as good

As if

Dispensed only through itself

No keepers on Earth

Not the church

(don’t think it)

Or the world

(won’t think it)

God’s surprise

Surprised by peace

And then delight

Don’t think it comes in

Any other way

It is wild

If there is timing,

It only knows its own

It comes to save

Better than a plan

Or pre-requirements met

Don’t ask except

To ask of it

That is all right

It can act as if it hears

The one releases

It can hear

And for our malaprops

And misinformed

Hears us, anyway

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coda

My people cry

I must respond

They ask badly

If at all

I want to hear them, anyway

I will respond

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Something like it

Says the Lord

In songs

And other prophecies

And the amazing grace

Of love

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C L Couch

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Wintry Weekend

(x = space)

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Wintry Weekend

(in the forecast)

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God

Help us

On a Lenten Friday

Fish Friday, maybe

Yum

Or only the side dishes

To be abstemious

For the season

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Seriously,

It is a somber time

I wish it could be

A quiet time

With normal noise

Children play

Dogs bark

Tires pressing normally

Go by

On the street

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You know,

It’s the grownups

Who need help

Who need to understand

The opportunity

The chance to know God better

In the season

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Why forty days?

I think largely because

Of our

Jewish parents,

If I may say parents

And the time of forty years

Spent in a wilderness

Moving toward

A promised land

Regrettably,

To conquer

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I think Jesus

If he were

A good, Jewish man

Would know the

Number forty

Use it to count the days

In his own

Wilderness

Of silence and temptation

Before the promise

Of a ministry

Begins

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And we wayward

Children

(grownups)

Maybe count forty, too

To have a season

Many days

To get to know you better

And all your children

Generations

Now

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Impositions

(x = space)

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Impositions

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The palms are burned

From last year

And ashes are prepared

To go on foreheads

All day long

As Lent begins with ashes

As reminders of mortality

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We might not

Understand mortality

Since we want to live forever

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Which might be the impulse of

Creation

To want and think the days

Will never end

As we live

Tomorrow into tomorrow

Without concern

Until concerns are imposed

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Wondering what do we know

Of immortality

Except that we think about it

A great deal

When not ignoring

Thoughtless into tomorrow

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The assurance of faith

Stories of coming back

Visitations

Apparitions

Scant stories

And the few that are detailed

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Regarding intimations

Life catches up with impulse

What happens

We’ll know

We’ll know what we know

Assurance of faith

Or amazing-grace

Surprise

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C L Couch

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Burnt bushes and trees in Sardinia, Italy.

Sardinia, Italy

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Two Days before Lent

(x = space)

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Two Days before Lent

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There are too many

Things to pray for:

Ukraine, COVID, the

Other violence

In the world

At home

In the heart

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As it happens,

There is a season

Starting Wednesday

A season really good

For prayer

And such

Lean living for a while,

As we can manage,

Extra services perhaps

Of kinds

x

A time whose name

Means slow and full

And other things

That say

Slow down, remember me

My teaching

From the start

As if to say

I meant creation from the start

To teach

To have us read the surfaces

As teaching and as

Starting points

From which to dig, to dive

Or from which

To fly

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As if to say

We have this time now,

You and I,

In which to walk as if

There were a garden

In which to talk about

All things

Anything

You like

Or don’t like

But need to share with me

Because I’m wise

And all love

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C L Couch

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Photo by Susanne Schwarz on Unsplash

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Second Book of Genesis

(x = space)

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Second Book of Genesis

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God kept saying

That it’s good

Creation’s good

Each day of it

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To be there

Hear the names

Have God speak into our minds

In pre-fall grace

With understanding

There is delight

And faith

In all this

Without they’re being named

Only the day and night

All the animals

Us

And then a time of rest

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If we had been there

If we could have touched their hands

And drawn them back

From the tree

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C L Couch

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Convictions

(x = space)

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Convictions

(last day of Lent)

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I look around at everything

Liturgically, it is the day before

A triumph

Such as Roman victors knew

No wonder Herod was frightened

And Pilate tactically

Concerned

None of it was sanctioned

It spoke to rebellion

Though everything was peaceful

In that way

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I look around

And wonder about everyone

How to celebrate an arrival

And then turn on the one

A few days later

Or however long it took

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I want to say I’m sorry

I look around at everything

And say I’m sorry

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C L Couch

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Jerusalém, Israel

Traditional loaf salesman at Old Town in Jerusalem.

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Slowdown Season

(x = space)

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Slowdown Season

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Lent could mean

Anticipation,

If we would allow for that

In the midst of conversations

About sacrifice

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Having given up

On chocolate, we need

Something to talk about

How about why?

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Sacrifice for its own sake

Being good,

Don’t get me wrong

Though we can

Say more

About the season

About church

About reading

About us

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Lent means getting ready

Or it might

Lest we forget

Why we gave up the chocolate

Or the coffee

Or, I don’t know,

What do people give up

Nowadays?

(maybe screen time)

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It seems we give up

Something somewhat bad

Somewhat good

Maybe it’s the excess

We surrender,

Which a good ancient Greek

Will say

Is always good

A lifestyle to adopt

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Well, we’re not here

To parse

We’re here, in fact, because

We’re unified

We want one thing

Even if delivery

Is holiday disarray

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We want a happy Easter

With rabbits

And eggs

(rabbits who lay eggs)

And back to chocolate

Like a former friend

Now reconciled

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There is more

But it’s not mine to say

You must, must not

It is yours to say

To own a resurrection

Shown in nature

Told as story

A question and an answer

Of belief

It’s yours to say

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C L Couch

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Walk the Line

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Counting on God

(x = space)

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Counting on God

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We are in Lent

That like “lente” should mean

Go slowly

(Holy Week might be

“adagio,” I think)

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Lent is a Christian thing

And goes along with

Our preoccupation

For things forty:

Forty years our parents

In the wilderness,

Forty days’ temptation

Between Jesus and the devil,

Angels standing (flying)

By,

Forty days for seasons

There are more

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Four gospel writers

Three angels meet with Sarah

(meet with Abraham)

She laughs with them

Isaac, Rebekah

With two sons

The sons are parted

As father was separated

From brother,

Two traditions started

Eve and Adam

Had two sons as well

One of whom

Need be remembered

On account of murdering,

First murder

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I’m making up the factor

And where is ten?

Ten tribes to the north,

Two to south

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Numbers must be important

There’s a whole book for them

In our traditions

But I stop

Just this side of numerology

Yet remembering, just now

That Arabs gave us numerals;

Before then,

Letters had numeric value

Cf. X, V, I, L, C, and M in Roman

Usage

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Letters as numbers

I think that hurts my brain

What is the number in the name of God,

In the quotient

Or should one multiply?

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We say three in,

But sometimes I must wonder

How many God might be

How many parts and particles

Go into one

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C L Couch

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Photo by Makarios Tang on Unsplash

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