Song of the Season: Freedom Song (repost)

As our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate Passover week, remembering God’s work liberating their ancestors from slavery and oppression by the domination systems in the ancient Egyptian empire, and Christians celebrate the life and teachings of Jesus as a path to personal and community liberation embodied in his words and deeds in his last week of life during Holy Week, I thought it would be fitting to share again a poem I wrote on this theme during my time working as chaplain resident in the UNC hospital psychiatric floor.


Freedom Song

“O come, o come, deliver me,”

cried those under Pharoah’s lash.

Their hearts longed to soar free

with eagle-feathers bright and brash.

Staff raised high, Israel did see,

with mighty ocean crash

the flaming light of liberty

their backs freed from burning lash.


Like waves I hear this cry still roar

echoing in many deserted hall

lined with cots for the homeless poor

abandoned by those called great and tall

whose money moved to distant shores

when profits  began to fall.

homeless in jesus arms

“Deliver” echoes still in whispering call

where others lie, victims of a hidden war.

Their broken bodies writhe in withdrawal

from poisons that trap them like iron doors

and wrap their minds in darkling pall.


“Deliver” cries children from other homes

whose minds and bodies lie broken by neglect.

Their hearts bear wounds and scars like broken bones

that will not set but must lay wrecked

uncertain for minds what healing comes.

Child Abuse Statistics


Oh God, who set old Israel free and yet brightens our sky

what light in such shadows can you bring

what freedom shine in their eyes.

“Deliver, Oh deliver,” their stories sing,

and I cannot help but question why

and what shape will we see rise on morning’s wings

in answer to their ceaseless cry.

Song of the South (repost): April Showers

This seems an appropriate poem for this time of year in the south-land.

Embrace the beauty of this day.

Your progressive redneck preacher,



April Showers
pollen 0

Green dust
Sprinkled upon ground lies in sheets like fresh fallen snow
That blanket warm with new life
Replaces the shimmering white
Of frost upon grass
That like fragile glass once crunched underfoot
In music of fragility

pollen on furniture

It lies green and thick upon the hillsides
Touching the accoutrements of
Our human accomplishments
Our anthills of asphalt, steel, and pressed wood
Busy with our scurrying forms
Buzzing with electric motion


Green fingers fall soft
Upon us
Awakening us as from restless dreaming
With the throbbing pulse
Of Spirit song flowing through it
As her mothering presence
Labors amidst us to birth new life
Like butterflies emerging
From empty shells
pollen 4
Wiped away in filmy layers on my fingers
It reminds me of my own
Tumult, scurrying, and frantic fear
Which sets the anthill of my heart
To constant motion
My feelings blown like birdseed on the breeze
Unable to settle

pollen allergy

Whispering to me how
It is not some silver hued sign of threat
That I feel
Hovering over my soul’s horizons
As my tortured pasts try to teach me
But instead
Labor pains
The Mothering Spirit endures in me
So some new spring may dawn within
Breaking my long winter’s chill

Songs of Unexpected Help

Reflecting on discovering the help through dark times, and light on the other side, God’s grace found in Christ and in the loving hands of others bring brought to mind these two poems I wrote last summer, as I began to break out of the dark shadow of grief which followed my experience of loss and trauma at the unexpected death of my late wife.

I hope they bless you.  I would love to hear your experience of unexpected grace.

Your progressive redneck preacher,





The stillness speaks

in crevices of rocks,

in whispered voices of rustling leaves,

in flowing streams that call out in wordless rhymes

our hearts hear, as they interpret for us

thoughts too deep

for our conscious minds to know

in cicada cries that set my spirit dancing

in step with echoes of a knowing deep and true,

beyond all images, even language itself.


cosmic-christThese thin places, o Cosmic Christ,

are where I feel

your hand taking mine

like my own brother

leading me up craggy cliffs

as we climb beyond mist-filled valleys

dim with shadow

BroodySpirit3embraced by that Spirit

whose song surrounds us

in every greening leaf

scurrying squirrel

and heartbroken face

now cracking with the dawning

of laughter, song, and story

where the full-throated wail

of sorrow, trauma, loss once reigned.






Merry Meet


This icon of the Trinity draws on the feminine images used in Scripture for the Holy Spirit, as a reminder that women as well as men can bear the image of God.

O Three-fold dancer,

how you dazzle

all my imaginings

here atop sun-lit peak,

your rhythms wrapping me

in life



holy spirit like wind

emerging from within

the all surrounding womb of life.


O grace beyond all seeing,

when I but grasp

your slender thread,

letting it lead me,

spiritual companion 2

laying aside who I am,

how I find not just you

but myself again

and deep within that soul,

now made clear as crystal,

I see, like a town glimpsed in snow globe sphere,

all that is

no longer concealed by grief’s shadows

nor buried by muck from shame’s deep latrines

but now bathed in light

simply as it is,

alive, whole, cradled, innocent and pure

in the goodness of your Mother-love

held in strong hands

I Have Made Mistakes

In thinking of our experience of vulnerability and limit, I can’t but help think of “The Oh Hellos” song “I Have Made Mistakes”.

I invite you to listen to its words.   Its call to recognize our limits, mistakes, and failures lead us to grow in powerful ways, just as rain is needed for the grass to grow, speaks a powerful truth.

How have you experienced your loss, struggle, and pain opening you up?

Your progressive redneck preacher,


Stuff That Works, Old Friends, and Finding Out Who Our Friends Are

In thinking of learning to open up to help as we discover our own own vulnerability, embracing it as part of our identity, I can’t help but remember the ways in which I discovered strength in friends on whom I could lean in the rough patches of my life.

It is dear friends who showed up unexpectedly, accepting and embracing me for who I am, as broken or as struggling, who kept me from falling apart at times in which it felt like the bottom had dropped out of my life and I feared I had no future.

This piece by Guy Clark expresses this so well:

as does this one:


Also “You Can’t Make Old Friends” —


And this Tracy Lawrence piece–


It is not friends alone, but all who are reliable boons lifting us up in our struggles, who are the presence of grace, the comfort of God to us in such moments.  I think, though, our closest friends are those who make it clear to us we are accepted in all our vulnerability, loss, and limit.   Who has been this friend to you?  How have you discovered to be such a friend?

I would love to hear your story!

Your progressive redneck preacher,