Here is a new poem I wrote near the end of 2016, which I feel connects with our theme of encountering God in the stuff of life.
I hope it helps you experience this connection yourself.
Your progressive redneck preacher,
Walls of water fall thick all around us both,
An ocean opening from sky above
Lacking only that briny saline smell
Which clung to me as a little boy
Emerging from the sea
Where I had been bathing with my brother and sisters
I remember that aroma falling about me
Thick as Aunt Elaine’s afghan
Which I later would wrap around me
On cool Morrisville winter nights
Deep in camping mode, daddy said to us
“Don’t worry about no shower.
That sea will get you clean enough”.
That odor’s lingering embrace
Led me to feel unexpected kinship
With the ever-regenerating starfish who,
Together with the horse shoe crabs
Covered in hard spiked armor carapace
Swam in Fort Fisher’s touch pool.
Both before seemed some exotic creatures
Spock might have encountered on his three year tour,
Yet now stood clothed in the pungent fragrance of the same ocean,
That womb from which life first burst forth from mother earth.
Now our once strange touch felt like a connection.
The crab’s hard shell, my soft fingers
Became a little child and its mother intertwining their fingers.
It is just such a gesture
Stretching forth to greet
the pulsing life at the heart of each moment
Which I made again in salt water in my teens.
Clad only in a swimsuit I stepped into the sea
Hoping to answer that wave-walker’s call
When he had whispered to old Nicodemus,
“Return to the womb again,
Not now bound to walls and water by placenta
Like some boat afloat off shore
But of mother Spirit”.
Soaking, I expected to rise like some butterfly skyward
Those salty waters my own dark cocoon,
In which I left behind
echoing voices of shrill threats,
thunderous roars of fear.
Instead I waded in, body intertwined with the preacher’s,
Even while he spoke the three-fold name
To find us both flattened by the waves
Laughing rather than grave, both of us off kilter.
As walls of water fall around me now,
Fingers intertwined with one whose hand lies wrinkled not with ocean but with years
Staring into the bright eyes of one whose life now lays forgotten
Like a starfish under open wave
Each of us rocking to the rhythm of the rain,
I realize, how much more prophetic could this be?
In a childhood in which echoed the words “I’ll fly away”,
It seemed our goal was to escape this earth,
while the siren song of life
Echoing through every wind and wave
Calls us to plunge deep beneath,
Underneath cresting blue and white
For only in the water’s warm embrace can we learn to swim.