A poem for the third Sunday of Lent, 2022

Unseasonably warm for this time of year and this part of the country, my oldest children and I had an opportunity to go for a walk after a noon meal last week. The sun’s warmth felt good in spite of the wind. We discussed school and work and lent. At one point in the conversation I stated that three practices of the Christian faith include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

“What is almsgiving?” asked one child as we walked along a gravel path. I explained that almsgiving may be an antiquated term for giving to the poor and needy. Usually money and food. But may also include giving your time, energy and resources.

We walked a mile or so in the late-winter, Spring-like weather before returning to our tasks for that day.

My intention this lenten season was to share six poems — one for Ash Wednesday and five for the Sundays in Lent. But the search for good Lenten poems was quite challenging. Poems exploring prayer, repentance, self-denial, and generosity are difficult to find. At least poems that are crafted with integrity and sincerity.

Chris Davidson’s poem “Ash Wednesday” caught my attention. And the poem “The Risk” by Marcella Marie Holloway. Both of these poems I returned to and considered. This is the best way to understand a poem. Return to it and reread and meditate on it.

Malcolm Guite’s poetry, specifically his Stations of the Cross sonnets,[1] I recently discovered. In one sonnet, on the body of Christ removed from the cross, he ends with this couplet: “Yet in that prising loose and letting be/He has unfastened you and set you free.”

At this week’s worship gathering, after the Fraction and Eucharist the congregation sang “Holy Ground.”[2] Half way through the worship song is a bridge of double-word lines that punctuate the message. It was this song that reminded me of a Kathleen Norris poem.


Imperatives, Part 2 of Mysteries of the Incarnation
by Kathleen Norris

Look at the birds 
Consider the lilies 
Drink ye all of it 
Ask 
Seek
Knock
Enter by the narrow gate 
Do not be anxious 
Judge not; do not give dogs what is holy 
Go: be it done for you 
Do not be afraid 
Maiden, arise 
Young man, I say, arise 
Stretch out your hand 
Stand up, be still
Rise, let us be going . . .
Love
Forgive
Remember me


NOTES:
[1] Malcolm Guite’s Stations of the Cross sonnets. Accessed March 20, 2022. https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/tag/stations-of-the-cross/.

[2] Passion – Official Live Video for “Holy Ground (feat. Melodie Malone).” Accessed March 20. 2022 https://youtu.be/xU771D5AYWE.

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