Easter Vigil Poems

April 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s a twofer! For the last three years, Mercy Seat has conducted Easter Vigil services and asked for interpretations of the texts. I wrote the response to Genesis this year, and the response to Exodus last year. Happy Easter! Christ is risen!

A Response to Genesis 18: 9-15

And God said, “Let there be light!”
And there was light. No joke!
Maybe Adam and Eve made
these strange and wonderful sounds of
the epiglottis constricting the larynx.
Or was this vocalization born
near the great trees of Mamre.

I stare at this cluster of deep green
on Google Earth and as I zoom in
I see Abraham.
He runs into the tent,
“Honey! We’ve got company!”
He gives his wife a peck on the cheek.
“Can you make
that good brown bread you always make?”

While Sarah kneaded the dough
with her knobby knuckled fingers
she heard a man say she was going
to have a baby.
Maybe her hearing was going.
Ha! I don’t believe it.
But a year later,
Laughter was born.

God weaves this joke–this riddle–
For forty-two generations
–or fifty-six, depending on who’s counting–
the royal blood trickled through
A family history not unlike our own
Because we’ve all got a king
from way back when
And adultery, murder and exile
in the great family tree.
We try to solve the puzzle
And laugh with relief at the conclusion
And it doesn’t matter why we laugh
It matters that we do.
Laughter, the gluten, of relationship.

Mary walked down the road
And a stranger appeared to her
He might as well said, “Greetings Earthling!
You are going to have a baby!”
“But I’m a virgin.”
Maybe she didn’t laugh in Gabriel’s face
But I’m sure she went home and had a little chuckle.
And a year later
The Messiah was born.

Do you get it?

Response to Exodus 14-15

We rush into the desert like glad little children on bicycles, and we are dazzled.
We trod into the desert like weary travelers, and we find solace.
Our enemy marches behind us, our spouse ignores our pleas, our job doesn’t satisfy, and so we escape.
The skinny black road stretches out for miles over hard orange-red earth, against the turquoise sky and purple mountain majesty.
I am told of a lake.  A lake that cools, where I can bathe and be clean and so I continue down the road, miles and miles of hot black tar only to find at the end of the road disappointment: the lake is gone and instead a cracked lake bed.  This is the dry season.  My saliva grows sticky in my mouth.
I look to the heavens and cry out, “Lord, I am thirsty!” “Lord, I am weary!” “Lord, this.  Lord, that.”  But thunderclouds do not appear.

Hundreds of thousands flock to the desert to replace their reality with fantasy.  Why go to Paris, when you can see the Eiffel Tower, they ask.  They are satisfied with imitation, but I want the real thing.
Life-savings are lost at the poker tables.
Lives are lost in the craggy mountains.
No one knows what tomorrow brings.

The red earth fades into western grasslands fades into Midwest prairie.  The smoke rises above the plains, and I can smell it long before I see it.  The farmer burns the field in order to prepare for planting.  He knows the fire does not only destroy; the ash will provide the nutrients for this year’s growth.  In destruction, is creation.  The end is the beginning.
Buds begin to appear on the trees, and birds pull juicy worms from the earth.  Hallelujah! Spring is here!
The Lord has led us out of the desert, and we are saved in the most peculiar, miraculous way.

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm, and see my deliverance,” the Lord says.
Let us pick up our tambourines and rejoice in this new life!


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