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21 July 2010

Lamentation

Ay. Ay-ya-yai. Ay-kah!
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow...

A day of weeping and lamentation. A day of fasting and remberance.
Today, millions mourn the loss of the temple in Jerusalem. Tradition has it that the Romans razed the temple on the anniversary of the day the Babylonians ravished the temple so long ago.

On this day Israel's children's children sing the blues, chanting the book of Lamentation in a solemn trope. Lamentations, the very sound of the word (in Hebrew) is a lament: Ay-kah! 
Ay. Ay-ya-yai. Ay-kah!
For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage;
my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.

Zion stretches out her hands,
but there is no one to comfort her;
the Sovereign God has commanded against Jacob
that his neighbors should become his foes;
Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them.

It is virtually impossible I think, for modern peoples to comprehend the sense of abandonment the Israelites had at the loss of their temple in 567 BCE and again in 70 CE. (And this was after Antiochus desecrated the rebuilt Second Temple in 167 BCE.)

The book of Lamentations is a book of raw anguish. And blame. It is God's fault. But because a just god cannot be blamed; it is the people's fault for provoking God.

The Holy God has become like an enemy and has destroyed Israel;
   
God has destroyed all its palaces, laid in ruins its strongholds,
    and multiplied in daughter Judah mourning and lamentation.

It was for the sins of her prophets
        and the iniquities of her priests,
    who shed the blood of the righteous in the midst of her.

The text ends with a cautious hopeful plea: Restore us to yourself, Holy One, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old. But one can never be certain of an inscrutable god. The final words: unless you have utterly rejected us, and are angry with us beyond measure. Ay. Ay-ya-yai. Ay-kah!

What temples shall fall in this new age?
What blues shall we sing?

19 July 2010

Under Pressure

I have felt as though I were made of lava these past weeks.
The ground shifted beneath my feet.
My foundation buckled and steam began boiling upward and outward.
I thought that I might explode.
But I may have vented just enough.
There is a crust forming over the molten torrent.
It is still there, slowing into plasma, waiting to be stirred.
Explosions no longer seem imminent.

15 July 2010

Seeking A Seven Day Kiss

Somebody come and carry me
into a seven day kiss
Somebody come and carry me
into a seven day kiss
Somebody come and carry me
into a seven day kiss
I don't need no historic, no national,
no family bliss
I need an absolutely one to one
A seven day kiss - help me now

I can read the daily papers
I can even make a speech
but the news is stuff that tapers
down to salt poured in that breach
I have been scheming about my people
I have been scheming about sex
I have been dreaming about Africa
Nightmaring Oedipus the Rex


But what I need is quite specific
terrifying rough stuff and terrific
I need an absolutely one to one
A seven day kiss - help me now

Somebody come and carry me
into a seven day kiss
Somebody come and carry me
into a seven day kiss
Somebody come and carry me
into a seven day kiss
I don't need no historic, no national,
no family bliss
I need an absolutely one to one
A seven day kiss - help me now 

 
June Jordan © 1980, Beacon Press 

Come, my beloved,
let us go forth into the fields,
and lodge in the villages; 
let us go out early to the vineyards, 
and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened 
and the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.
The Song of Songs 7:11-12

I will give you my love and it will taste like a seven day kiss.

11 July 2010

Water of Life

Water of life, gift of heaven
pours ~ 
rushing sweeping, cleaning, soothing, filling, nourishing, sustaining.
Speaking in liquid tongues, whispering, roaring.
I do not speak your language, yet you speak mine.
I hear you call my name.

10 July 2010

Living in the Moment

Dear God,
Help me to be fully present to the present moment.
Don't let the hope, fear, promise and joy of the present be eclipsed by the hope fear, promise and joy of the future.
Let me savor this moment with all my faculties: it's sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes.
For once hold the reins on my imagination.
Let me sit with you.
And be.
Amen.