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The Triple Evils of poverty, racism, and war are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the "Beloved Community." When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils. The issues change in accordance with the political and social climate of our nation and world.

POVERTYmaterialism, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, slums… "There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty … The well off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for "the least of these."

RACISMprejudice, apartheid, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, discrimination against differently abled, stereotypes… "Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group."

WARmilitarism, imperialism, domestic violence, rape, terrorism, media violence, drugs, child abuse…  "A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war- 'This way of settling differences is not just.' This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

from Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Boston: Beacon Press, 1967.  

Frosty moonlight

filters through church-window prisms,

striking the cross—

the hungry one crying out of the dark,

words to the Sacred.

In the dark, no one remembers the sparrows.

An old man dreams

about a cheeseburger and hot fries.

Where will he lay his head?

Left half dead outside in the cold,

perhaps, through some oversight,

shivering and naked,

with no bowl of hot soup

to warm his belly.  Might as well be dead.

Holy candles flicker as they burn.

The old man dreams a valid dream.

 

Dirty children line blasted streets,

sucking babes who cannot cry,

their parched throats

swelling amid the rubble.

Have they no homes, no mothers?

And, oh God—the men.

Yes, the men.  Are they so guilty

as to die for those who govern with

trumped-up creeds, pitting brother against

brother, maiming for life, stealing

divine creation—one-by-one?

The world must lock the door to

keep war out, the people safe.

 

A woman rises from a third row seat

with stomach churning

and lungs that will not fill.

She’s a Pillar of Fire

who wants to burn like

God’s voice at midnight.  But ice crystals

cast thin shadows in the place where she’s going—

a room filled with strangers.

There's no make it plain in the buzz of this crowd.

The woman’s dream divorced from the cross,

small embers in fallen leaves,

the Promised Land in the incensed air—

and all she totes are borrowed words.

 

first published in TimBookTu

Today, in light of the meditations by Henri Nouwen concerning writing I have posted past three days and some comments I have received lately, I wish to disclose some of my reasons for writing a blog.   Anyone wishing to receive daily mediations in his/her e-mail daily may sign up at the web site listed with the Mediations.

One reason I began writing a blog is blatant self-promotion.  I am a poet and free lance writer.  On my blog, I can announce any projects, publications, or honors that I receive.  It’s my blog.  Another reason is to share ideas that I believe are important.  The opinions I express may be radical or conservative, popular or not.  I  answer to God and to the law of the land.  But I do not have to agree with any given person or group of people.  I believe in freedom of speech. 

I am a poet who often writes in the first person, but that is no indication that the speaker (the “I” in a poem) is the author of the poem.  Poems are not divided into fiction and non-fiction as prose is.

But in the blogging world, as in the regular one, one soon finds what has been true all along:  Truth is where one finds it.  I believe in a Absolute Truth, but I don’t believe any one person has it.  We all have discovered small pieces of the larger Truth.  But only God knows the whole truth.  Any reader who has been reading this blog for a while has probably noticed that I have posted poems during April, National Poetry Month, and that I posted special poems and devotions during Holy Week.  Doing so was a big hint that I am a Christian.  But what I aim to be is an un-obnoxious Christian, one who believes that people who are not Christian have also found part of the truth.

Over the years, I have become a pacifist.  I am not only opposed to the war Bush started, but I am opposed to all war.  I believe, along with Martin Luther King Jr., about whom I wrote my master’s thesis, “Making All Things New:  The Redemptive Value of Unmerited Suffering in the Life and Works of Martin Luther King Jr.” (available in the library at Wake Forest University), that the ills that America must rid herself of are racism, poverty, and militarism.  I believe that America can become the nation spoken of in the Constitution and other early American documents and speeches.  But I believe we are not on the right path to do so.  I do not believe that it is my duty or the duty of my country to kill an enemy.  Spiritual battles are not fought with physical weapons but with the kind of love that makes an enemy into a friend.

I will stand before God some day and plead the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for my salvation.  I pray that then I will hear the words “Well done.”  I pray that every reader will also.  But I refuse to believe God loves me more than people born on the southern shore of the Rio Grande.  I refuse to stop struggling to make this world more nearly the way God intended and still intends for it to be.

With the tree not yet removed,

we welcomed the new year—

watched the ball drop, went to bed.

 

Technically, it was morning.  But does

my praying without ceasing halt,

when I sleep, dream of a world

in which we all belong?

 

Imagine a garden with a wrought iron

gate.  Imagine John Lennon

humming to the yellow roses.

 

Finally, I get up. But the sky is dark.

And I, in solitude, contemplate

the grass that looks like hay.  When it

 

starts to rain, the trunks of the back yard

trees are barely brown.  Yet a light shines

in a window—across the way.

 

And what reason have they to leave the light

still burning?  A guide for my morning prayer:

O my God, to see.

Making Our Lives Available to Others

One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: "I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to." This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.


Discuss books on-line.  Join our reading group blog.

Support the mission of the Henri Nouwen Society.

Order free booklet The Spirituality of Fund-Raising while quantities last.

Discuss Henri Nouwen's legacy. Join our blog.

Subscribe to Weekly Reflection  Once-a-week eLetter devoted to encouraging you on life’s journey.

Read Bread for the Journey  The popular Nouwen book upon which our 'Daily Meditation' eLetter is based.

Visit HenriNouwen.org for more inspiration!

A row of apple trees lines

the winding road.

And false-brown leaves

whirl dervishly

in the roweling wind—

a wind that’s blowing through

low-lying branches.

 

Small apples, dropping like nuts,

pelt the earth like a joke from the past.

So, technically, it’s Springtime,

but winter makes great news.

 

Silhouettes of a man and a woman

move inside a Model A.

Despite the cold, they have the

windows down.  The man

greets the morning

like a prophet bearing great joy.

Only this time it’s personal.

He sports a welcoming smile, nothing else—

at least, nothing I choose to speak of.

 

The blond beside him wears

last year’s sunscreen, found in the car,

and warm yellow mittens.

  

first published in Rearview Quarterly

Writing, Opening a Deep Well

Writing is not just jotting down ideas. Often we say: "I don't know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down." But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself. As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.


Discuss books on-line.  Join our reading group blog.

Support the mission of the Henri Nouwen Society.

Order free booklet The Spirituality of Fund-Raising while quantities last.

Discuss Henri Nouwen's legacy. Join our blog.

Subscribe to Weekly Reflection  Once-a-week eLetter devoted to encouraging you on life’s journey.

Read Bread for the Journey  The popular Nouwen book upon which our 'Daily Meditation' eLetter is based.

Visit HenriNouwen.org for more inspiration!

The mighty river

hits slime-covered rocks—rhythmically—

and, in love with the goblin-spirit,

waits for ecstasy,

then, falls—majestic and turbulent—

into the calmer valley, disappears as it

winds through the forest, thus,

like a gypsy, claims all the

world as its home.

 

first published in Domicile

Writing to Save the Day

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.


Discuss books on-line.  Join our reading group blog.

Support the mission of the Henri Nouwen Society.

Order free booklet The Spirituality of Fund-Raising while quantities last.

Discuss Henri Nouwen's legacy. Join our blog.

Subscribe to Weekly Reflection  Once-a-week eLetter devoted to encouraging you on life’s journey.

Read Bread for the Journey  The popular Nouwen book upon which our 'Daily Meditation' eLetter is based.

Visit HenriNouwen.org for more inspiration!

The shadows deepen as
dusk enters the cooling forest.

The man and his woman
court a labored breath, stopping to kiss,
then groping beneath loosened garments,
entering a world of seekers
oblivious to the coming frost.

Paw prints, off to the north, engraved
in shining moss, and two deer
sniff silent air, toe dampened soil.

A squirrel settles lonesome in the leaves.
Trees turn black.

First published in Domicile

April 2006
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