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Gregory Strong
Like water striders, we skate along on the surface of glory we scarcely fathom.
Like water striders, we skate along on the surface of glory we scarcely fathom.
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Simply Sounds of Birds

Neither symphony nor cacophony,
simply sounds of birds in day's first light
awake, awake, among leaves in the wind.
Ah, to be as a bird in this plein morning ...

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Rain over night, overcast at dawn
This morning in early June
Third Sunday after Pentecost
Laden with warm, humid air

Struggle from night’s sheets
I try to wake, try to pray

Just beyond the window, a
Carolina wren descants life
Lifts notes full and strong
As if in natural psalm

Kwanzan Cherry Trees Past Peak of Bloom

Such a lovely litter
do wind and trees make
as petals loose from leaves
then swirl and sweep through air
always toward earth
there to cluster and clutter
yet still allusive of beauty
as what is felt but unseen
lifts and scatters them
across lawn and street
where another spring morning
our feet once lightly went

The Kwanzan Cherry Tree

Exquisitely soft falls the chill April rain
that separates blossom from leaf
and petals the pavement with color,
as if in lamentation for splendor passing.

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Monday in Easter Week

We rise from the joy of Easter Sunday to the Monday after. What kind of day will it be? Monday can seem like a descent. In the world which most know, which popular culture reinforces, Monday, the first day of the work week, presses down like a large stone rolled over life. What kind of day will this Monday, the Monday after Easter, be?

Jesus did not die on a Friday – that Friday we know as Good Friday – to redeem Mondays for us and make us happy about them. Yet because he rose on a Sunday – that Sunday we know as Easter – Mondays can never be the same. The week can never be the same. Life can never be the same. On Good Friday the old days died. On Easter Sunday all days became new.

The question is whether – this Monday, this week, and the days which follow – we will live in the new days or not. If yes, how will we live in them?

The answer to both questions lies in death and resurrection. In Jesus’ once-for-all death and resurrection, our old self must die, and our new self rise. Our old days must die, and our new days begin. In these new days, by the power of the risen Jesus in-Spirited within us, we must make choices to give our self to God and to our neighbor in faith, hope, and love rather than mistrust, despair, and hate.

This connects with Paul’s affirmation of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. As Paul reminded the Christians in Corinth, in and by this good news we are saved. Jesus died for us. Jesus rose for us. Not figuratively, but actually. Thus he made life new for us. Not figuratively, but actually. We stake life itself on this good news, or we have heard it in vain. Therefore, we must dwell decisively in these new days, in this new life, by letting our old self die and our new self rise in such truth, beauty, and goodness that we can only begin to imagine. Mondays should never be the same.

A Little Hymn at Easter

What shall I say or do in kind, dear Lord,
as you did sow your love, your very life,
to body forth such great-springing beauty
that blossoms in my heart all hope and joy?
What shall I say or do, but give my wintered self
to flower as little sacrament – splendor from Easter wood!

Triduum

Suffering is like this when experienced –
space and time contracted, compacted;
hammered, hammering; nailed to wooden joint;
relentless, measureless; soul-piercing point.

Suffering is like this. Then it is done.
And in this suffering, it is all undone.

To rise after suffering, after death-swaddling night,
to look upon dawn of unalloyed light
and hear the lark ascend – are to lift the laden heart
to joy ever-surging, with praising but a start;

past all evil, past all sorrow, past all suffering;
striding glory to glory in day of all-springing.

The great heart of God — wider, deeper, purer than the twilight sky of the high plains — beats as artery and vein to this labored world. This great plaintive heart — wounded and sinking — pulses, contracts with every hammering sorrow, every gasping struggle, and every weeping misery that mark the passages of the world’s impassioned day. This sacred heart, bloodied as the sublime western light that fills the far horizon, labors through the long night to bear our broken world, blooded now with a sacred passion, to an ever-breaking dawn....

Holy Saturday

Between the cross and the broken tomb
there is only emptiness—
eternity of death and void

We look out upon the lawn
and note an ordinary light
lying in the grass and such
in an uninteresting way
without intensity or passion.
Still, there is comfort in this ordinary,
the Saturday doldrums of being:
the blade on throat is merely shaving,
the palm cups coffee, not a nail.
Everything is as it should be
as it was and always will be.
In this nice perfection cut loose
from what has been and what will be,
this day suffers not one nor hopes the other,
for there is no depth-descending agony,
just ordinary light on lawn,
the comfort of submission to what is
immediate and banal

Between the cross and the broken tomb
there is now the great day of nothingness
that reflects, is, our windless being—
the ordinary light upon the lawn
slays us while we blink
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