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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

NOTE:  According to Martin Luther King Jr., the triple evils are racism, poverty, and violence (war).

Trees that grow tall have deep roots. Great height without great depth is dangerous. The great leaders of this world – like St. Francis, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., – were all people who could live with public notoriety, influence, and power in a humble way because of their deep spiritual rootedness.

Without deep roots we easily let others determine who we are. But as we cling to our popularity, we may lose our true sense of self. Our clinging to the opinion of others reveals how superficial we are. We have little to stand on. We have to be kept alive by adulation and praise. Those who are deeply rooted in the love of God can enjoy human praise without being attached to it.

April 2008