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heart

my heart to give

(x = space)

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my heart to give

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my heart to give

lord Jesus

my worn heart

broken, stitched

machined

hardly new

why should Jesus

want it

but he’ll take it

I think

not because

of its condition

or because

he can renew

but because

he is all love

and will not refuse

love given

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after reading “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Christina Rossetti

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C L Couch

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Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash x

Missioning

(x = space)

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Missioning

(for Mandy Shunnarah)

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It’s Wednesday

And a hump day

Too many cases breaking out

Al-Qaeda talking up Afghanistan

Fires in California

New Apple phones

Unveiled there

I need shoes

More importantly a place to live

Local friends are helping

And good thoughts

Come from everywhere

Faroff family stands by

I’m eaten up with nerves

They eat me

Consume the calm

Like the noise above

That means I’m leaving

After many years

Too many jobs

That took up all

My energy allotment

Concentration

And my attempts to rest

And now

Semi-retired

Accosted with all that

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My heart needs fixing up

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This should not

Be all for me

Too many people

Have revocable need

I pray

Others help

With worldly substance

So much more than I have

But this should not be for me

In what I cannot do

It’s to put out fires

Help first-responders

Let go those

Who have no perspective

Build up health

Yes

It’s true

And I must ask

For all of us

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C L Couch

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Mandy Shunnarah has been writing about skateboarding and skateboarding—forthcoming book, Midwest Shreds: Skaters and Skateparks of Middle America from Belt Publishing (fall 2022).  Hers is a positive, inclusive, encouraging voice.

https://mandyshunnarah.com/

https://www.offthebeatenshelf.com/blog

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Skateboard on Dry Lakebed

Photo by Kelsey Dody on Unsplash

Alvord Desert, Oregon, USA

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Good Signals

(x = space)

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Good Signals

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I had the extra headache

Yesterday

Today, eyelids are heavy

(really are)

So with the tranq

That puppy dogs at veterinarians’

Get,

I could stand to sleep

For twelve hours or so

There was the time

When it was so bad

I got taken to the emergency room

At night,

Where I waited a long while

To be told to leave

Without assist

(except to be told to leave)

Six months I had slept

Maybe an hour a night

I was falling apart

Inside,

Which might be the kind of thing

That leads people

To scream in emergency rooms,

Which I didn’t

But didn’t sleep that night,

Either

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Finally, nothing kept happening

And sometimes

I could get more sleep,

Though it took

 A heart attack to move me forward

With the world

If we wore signs,

Would that make it better?

The signs would have to

Talk as well

Maybe give off scents

And have a taste

So that the senses become

Part of the message

(sending and receiving),

Too

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Well, I have this day

(clearly, so do you)

The headache band is eased

Somewhat—and one might not believe

That I’m thankful

For all this

If so (if not), maybe it takes

Appreciating the knock on the gate

To be told in silence

Not time yet

And in reaction

Gratitude

For day-to-day mortality

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C L Couch

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The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria, Australia

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Saving Graceland

Saving Graceland

 

 

1, Give It Up

 

And there are the things that happy

Anyway

Bad things, starving things

Taking from life, risking faith

At each turn

We lost someone close

We lose a job

We lose a place

We lose what we thought

Were good associations

We lose something in ourselves

 

We lose some health

We lose materials we think we need

Because we do

And where is belief in this,

Where are you?

You’re here, but we don’t know how

So we give up

Or don’t embrace in the first place

Because there’s honest reason not

To take hold

We might even curse God

Denial

Or the arranging of an adversarial relationship

From then on

We take down faith symbols that were

Totem as well as decoration

No beauty there

In truth,

No more

 

And what’s to bring us back,

To move us on?

We’re grown up, we don’t need you

We only need ourselves

Maybe with like-minded

Maybe not

 

 

2, Restoration

 

I don’t know how each one

Might come back

Or start at all

I mean, there is confession

And repentance,

But what about when no one’s

Done anything that’s wrong?

I don’t mean venial

Considerations

I guess I mean victims

Who comes back from being robbed

Of life,

Of living goodness?

And if there were no faith

But awful things have happened,

How might it begin?

 

A blank slate would be easier

To mark on with good lessons

Or reason through

Someone’s apologetics

That happens, and it needs to happen

But wondering from a point of loss

Of theft

Of trickery

Or manipulation

Then believing again

That everything with truth and beauty

Might return to the mind’s eye

The vibrations of the heart

All the evil stuff to be forgotten

No, that’s not going to happen,

Though there might be mitigation

For a start

 

 

3, Landing

 

A favorite way in stories to rid oneself

Of evil is through laughter

For evil characters often hold

Themselves and what they think they have

Too seriously

An argument of one that must be global

 

Humor, a healthy kind

Even if delivered in exasperation

Cuts through the agenda

Exposes the lack of clothing on

Self-styled emperors

Not that it’s the only way

Or on its own an anodyne

But healthy humor

Like right thinking

Goes a way toward righteous victory

Perhaps in metanoia

 

Though there should come

A sober time for reflection and

Decision

Or (and) simply to feel it through

Faith is funny

Worse, it’s foolish

Even if it shows the way

Turn over folly

To find some wisdom

The way some lies are best understood

Simply in opposite consideration

(take out the “not” or put it in

around each lie)

A different kind of foolishness

Made wise

Toward what we need

And where to have it, here

And on the other side

In certain testimony,

Something about rooms in mansions

 

Finally, though, we must face the hurt

We won’t want to, which is a good

Sign

We’re on the way to something real

Don’t worry about being smart enough

Unless it’s also made aware

How to get smarter

Don’t let your ego, on another hand,

Make choices for you

Finally, you know, it’s faith

It’s choice

It’s a choice we make

It’s the kind of choice that anyone can make

And if you think someone cannot make that

Choice for deficiencies,

God will think this, too,

In God’s way

 

Nothing needed will be withheld

To guarantee the offer

Or the taking

We all can be there in

Graceland, one by one

And all together, starting

The process anytime

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Mahmudul Hasan Shaon on Unsplash

 

Guests

Guests

 

There’s the outer skin

And then a mask underneath

Of pain

Then maybe underneath the skull,

Things aren’t so bad

Now in the heart of things,

It’s different

There pain enters and resides

Deeply,

And we must somehow get inside

Like a fantastic voyage

Plumb the depths

To find a source

Of everything that festers

We can’t laser it out

Even a scalpel wouldn’t serve

We have to go in ourselves,

Live with it for a while

Reside beside the pain

To understand

Its texture and its grooves, and finally

Where to touch it best

To hold it for a while

Try a tug or two

But if we stay and warm it long enough,

Part of it will start to rise

Away

 

C L Couch

 

 

(Fantastic Voyage, a novel by Isaac Asimov)

 

 

Photo by Macavei Alex on Unsplash

 

Dark Heart

Dark Heart

 

Light, bring me light!

It must be nice to call for it

A monarch

Then expect it

If I want light, I’ll have to get it

Not to complain

I have matches that strike on anything

And it’s one payment of my bills

That’s current

And now we have the bulbs

That light and last

That are expensive

That is a promise of investment in

Illumination

As for what’s inside, I’m unsure what to say

We say or see each new idea

As a light

A symbol in a balloon

A cartoon moment without words

Light to curse the darkness

Say the Christophers

Because darkness isn’t always bad

We call them the Dark Ages

We called it the dark continent

Though that was agenda

And racism

The agenda of racism

Belief to form a profit

Over people

Maybe we do better with the heart of darkness

Maybe not

But that is the end of light at the horizon

The entrance of the Congo

And the human being

And who is the main character

If not the continent itself

That without restraint

(another sort of character)

Ruins each of us—

And whose restraint

 

C L Couch

 

 

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1899 serially in Blackwood’s Magazine, published (whole) with other stories in 1902

 

The mission of The Christophers is to encourage people of all ages, and from all walks of life, to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference in the world. The mission is best expressed in The Christophers’ motto: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

https://www.christophers.org/

 

Photo by Nathan John on Unsplash

 

Seventh-Inning Stretch

Seventh-Inning Stretch

 

God

Help us

I think God will

I believe

You don’t have to

Not because I’m better

Never that

No

But because belief

Infects at different rates

Like a desirable disease

And some are never touched

Some are cured

Or forestalled

By degrees of nihilism

 

But it’s fair to understand

Faith as sick

The world doesn’t welcome it

Many take remedies, so to say

For me,

Welcome the infection

Feed the fever

Starve the cold

Once the heart is hosted

All other major organs

(yes those, too)

 

The wisdom of the world

Is foolish to believers

We are fools

To its wisdom

 

C L Couch

 

 

Mask of a fool dancer; Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl); North America department, Ethnological Museum, Berlin, Germany (Jacobsen collection, 1881)

By User:FA2010 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15334105

 

After Words

After Words

(Lent 41)

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There must still be words

We’re stuck with them, I guess

Or at least I am

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We could end here

Or yesterday

But we won’t,

Which is not a matter of words

As it is of life

x

Yet we should be ready

Now,

To pause when needed

Maybe turn the pause to play

Whatever is called for

x

It’s called for often

Snow day

Day in the sun

Comp time (whoever has this)

Playing hooky

(you can look it up)

x

Work will resume

With its kind of

Awareness, learning, deciding

Not in cryptic ways

Or inaccessible

Though recall that there’s a mystery

In pretty much everything

x

The kind that moves a martyr’s heart

And for other reasons, too, can thrill the heart

Of each of us

Of the sort like

Joan, Priscilla, Rachel, Esther

Judith, Hrosvitha, and Hildegard

Who found their way with God

While in the world

x

And for the Joans, Priscillas, Rachels, Esthers

Judiths, though I don’t suppose we’ll be

Naming anyone Hildegard or

Hrosvitha for a while

We may

We will

x

I don’t know, I think we’ll find

What we need

As long as we don’t keep the process to ourselves

Or the results

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Anyway,

I thought I should say something once it’s all over,

Our Lenten experience

We’re comingling times and traditions

Of the end of Lent (for those still counting),

The Passion, the Triduum, then

Easter and the Easter season

x

I pray

Together and apart

These are all good for you

The way spring days, clean from rain,

Can be

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C L Couch

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note for the blog

Counting forty days from Ash Wednesday takes Lent through Palm Sunday, which might seem odd given the reflective nature of the season maybe abandoned in triumphant celebration.  But the count of days in Lent can take out the Sundays and Holy (Maundy) Thursday (when the celebration of the Eucharist occurs) and add in Good Friday and Holy Saturday to make up a count and observation of forty days.  Timing of events for the Passion and the Triduum might overlap this way of counting, and it’s also true that some have it (more or less officially, according to one’s tradition) that the length of Lent (even the sense of forty days) be taken metaphorically.

I guess I’m counting forty days from Ash Wednesday and let the paradox of Palm Sunday prevail.

Whew.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia User John Morgan CC-BY-2.0

Lent 25

Lent 25

 

It’s a paradox

Unorthodox

 

This is a long time for slowing

Down, and yet

We must prepare for

Coming jubilation

There will be speed in that

The coming and the going

And the getting

 

And it’s spring

 

So what kind of spoil-sport

Must we be?

No kind, really

Work goes on

Of every kind

And there are families

And parochial festivities,

Which must be all right

 

So where is the season, then: where

Is our Lenten heart?

Well, in the heart, we say

Yes, it’s there

With other precious things we

Can recall—can reinvoke, if desired

(reorder to reorder)

Those times, those persons

Those happenings, those feelings

Discoveries

Then and now

 

We can keep the season

Let it work inside the mind

And maybe let it course

Through other organs

 

We can have Lenten lungs

A Lenten stomach

Pick something

 

We are so many parts to come

To know and to

Have everything done

 

C L Couch

 

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