Sunday, December 23, 2012

That Snow

That Snow

Yesterday’s snow is leaving us
thanks to today’s warmish sun.

That snow–
the same snow that,
as it fell, strained the eyes of a
tired trucker searching for tracks
on the slushy interstate,

That snow that made the children next door
exclaim when they heard
school had been canceled on its account,

That snow that brought to the widow’s mind
the day her husband died,
when those flakes drifted down
just outside the hospital window.

That snow is now melting,
turning to beads and sliding down to the ground
in the field across the road,
giving the muddy corn stubble a peek.

The wet soil is starting to show through
that snow this morning,
and the field is starting to look like
a handmade lace cloth

draped over a dark walnut table
where all of us sit,
quietly sipping cider from bright green cups,
and folding our napkins into
smaller and smaller triangles.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

At the Rescue Mission

I had the privilege last week to serve for a few hours at a rescue mission for homeless men in a nearby city, and it was quite an experience. Over the last several weeks, I have thought a lot about making this time of year about more than ourselves - about finding ways to honor Christ's birth by honoring others. This poem was born out of that experience at the rescue mission, as indicated by the title. 

These are the forgotten, the loathed, the avoided people who Jesus commanded us to love in Matthew 25:40. "I tell you the truth. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." To God be the glory. 

At the Rescue Mission

On the edge of town,
across from the industrial plants
and the piles of broken asphalt,
he leans into the doorway of the lit room,
looking for his usual spot.

A red glare shines on his windburned cheeks
from the fluorescent bulbs above him.
How stoic, how honorable
he seems in the worn denim and
unwashed cotton shirt. He might
just be returning from some
filthy battle, a hero.

He leans his weight into each step,
careful not to wake the other forty
sleeping warriors who litter the floor
all around him.

Each deliberate step brings him closer
to his bed, a thin mat on the cold tiles.
His pillow
a lumpy, yellowed mound
seems a cotton cloud to him as he
now lays his delicate head against it.

The cares of the day, and of
all the other days,
pass away from him now as he
gathers the exhausted blanket
to his chin and exhales.

In the corner, the workers
shear off thick slices of warm
banana bread onto plates -
soon to be Christmas breakfast
for each and every one
of the least of these.