A poem for the fourth week of Lent (Laetare Sunday), 2022

Cloudy, wet, cold, and windy. Weather report? Or state of the soul? Friday, I left the office to catch the street car in order to take the last train out of the city. But the street car seemed off schedule. I picked up my two bags of work gear and hiked through the city streets to discover that the East St. Paul Avenue bridge was out of commission. Orange cones and barricades blocked both ends of the bridge. That explained the dilemma of the street car. No bridge. No street car. At that point, the bags carried felt twice as heavy as when I left the office. I headed north on foot to the next bridge and made it in time to board the train home.

For a moment, as I stood outside the Milwaukee Public Market, home seemed so far away, if not out of reach. The invitation of home a distant sound. Once on the train, I reread a poem by Bei Dao. I read it earlier in the day, but sought to pick up the thread and continue digesting the poem. But in my fatigue, I skipped ahead a few pages and read a poem by Gu Chen. In that poem the speaker reports that his dark eyes seek the light.

After a few attempts at reading, I closed the book and watched the landscape pass by the window. I thought of a Lenten reading from Soren Kierkegaard: Christ sought followers not admirers. And John Donne’s meditation on the Scripture passage: they took My Lord away. Donne proposed that often “you yourself cast him away.” He offered that his followers diligently “seek him, . . . and seek him with a heavy heart, . . .” My mind pondered these thoughts. Do you want a comfortable life? An easy life on your own terms? Christ invites followers to something more.


The Risk
by Marcella Marie Holloway

You take a risk when you invite the Lord
Whether to dine or talk the afternoon
Away, for always the unexpected soon
Turns up: a woman breaks her precious nard,
A sinner does the task you should assume,
A leper who is cleansed must show his proof:
Suddenly you see your very roof removed
And a cripple clutters up your living room.

There’s no telling what to expect when Christ
Walks in your door. The table set for four
Must often be enlarged and decorum
Thrown to the wind. It’s His voice that calls them
And it’s no use to bolt and bar the door:
His kingdom knows no bounds of roof, or wall, or floor.

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