Mary Had a Little Lamb (Variations)

I.

Mary had a little Lamb,
His face with Love did glow,
reflected in the eyes of beasts
that ’round His bed did go.

The sacrament, the mystery
a humble heart can see:
because Love lit a creature’s face,
there’s hope for one like me.

II.

Mary had a little Lamb;
into a King, he grew,
and laid aside His starry crown
to make a prince of you.

So do your best, my little boy,
as long as life has days,
to honor Him in all you do;
let living be your praise.

III.

Mary had a little Lamb;
an angel, kind and good,
had told her of this miracle
in words she understood.

From the moment Mary’s soul
was blessed, this news to hear,
the hope of every humble heart’s
been born again each year.

For God, the gracious, kindly laid
within a cattle stall
the Love so vast and powerful
to save us, one and all.

IV.

Mary had a little Lamb
when earth stood cold as stone,
and winter wind, like saber steel,
cut creatures to the bone.

Yet right around the manger bed
a light from Heaven lay,
and dawned upon the dead of night
a never-ending day.

V.

Mary had a little Lamb
while all the world around
lay frozen in the grip of death
and silent as the ground.

But angels from their realms above
to shepherds that were near
sang “Gloria,” to warm the souls
of any who would hear.

The humble beasts beside the bed
made from a trough of wood
knew deeply in their creature cores
the Lamb was kind and good.

And Kings drew near the lowly birth
from eastern lands afar
by humbly setting to the side
their scepters for a star.

For even now the wise ones from
among the folk of earth
find mangers in their heart of hearts
to hold the Holy birth.

Thus hope returns anew for all
who save a spot within
to let this everlasting gift
of Love be born again.

Yes, Mary had a little Lamb,
but knowing hearts will see
the saving glory of God’s grace
for our humanity.

VI.

Mary had a little Lamb
whose promised birth did bring
Immanuel, God with us all,
our brother and our King.

No distant despot, cold, aloof,
or cloistered would He be,
but one knows the joy and pain
of being you and me.

So deeply He desires to be
reborn within the soul
of every broken spirit
with a longing to be whole.

Thus God became a creature
so the creatures He could claim
with a Love that lasts forever
and an unforgotten name.

Even death has been defeated
and no enemy remains
for this Lamb of God who suffered
now has Risen, and He reigns.

He shall lead the lost and lonely
to green pastures of His love
and the deep peace of a river
shall alight them like a dove.

Mary had a little Lamb,
and to the world was born
the Love of God in human flesh
that blessed Christmas morn.’

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The Path Toward Home

Do you hear me when I say, “I love you?”
Do you know it when I pray your name?
Do you see me beg the sky for answers
as your burning star becomes a flame?

Do you understand my guilt and heartache
for the times I may have been unkind,
when I’ve held you to some unfair standard,
when your inner self I’ve failed to find?

If you know these things, I hope you feel me
trying hard to be as strong as you;
striving fast to hear the song you’re singing,
to your melody and words, be true.

And I pray an empty place inside you
will be filled with all the love we’ve known
hand in hand, as now we walk each other
down the old familiar path toward home.

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Grandpa and the Boy

“Mama, why doesn’t Grandpa talk?”,
the little buddy asked.
Mama then measured a response
this question had unmasked.
“Grandpa has had a stroke, my dear,
lost blood flow to his brain…
but rest assured, my precious one,
he loves you just the same.”
“Oh Mama, do you think he knows
how much he means to me?
How happy in my heart I feel
when sitting on his knee?
Does Grandpa see me smiling when
we talk of summer days,
of fishing trips and story times
and all the many ways
he makes me feel like I’m the one
that gives his heart its joy,
like I’m his oldest, closest friend
and he’s a little boy?”
“I think he knows these things, my dear,
but tell, him, just the same.
And don’t be sad if Grandpa can
no longer say your name.
The part that’s most important, son,
and this you must recall,
is Grandpa is still Grandpa now,
and will be, after all.
So love him like he loves you, dear,
and soon you will be sure,
no matter what the illness is,
you will have found the cure.”

Danny and Big Daddy

For Gray Days

When life seems
only to be made
of gray days
like this one
envision yourself
with easel and paints
having hiked
the predawn darkness
to a place where
you’ve always dreamed
of painting the posing sun
coyly rising
on the blushy cheeks
of morning.

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Empathy

Have you ever gone for a hike alone in the woods late on a fall afternoon, or just at daybreak, and come unexpectedly upon a clearing? Walking gingerly around the periphery, you hope to encounter a grazing deer. You hold your breath and step softly, believing your sounds to be sub-threshold for keen upturned ears. Suddenly, you see movement, then a silhouette with lines as graceful as a Mozart mass. And you stop, both feet inside the sacred circle shared with another of God’s creatures. No movement occurs save the breath passing between two beautiful living beings. In silent reverence, your deep listening becomes an intentional act of entering into the force field of another’s presence. For a brief and holy moment, the fear that stands guard over the lives of wild things bows low,  its face turned to the loamy ground, leaving only this great Oneing of spirits in a little wooded clearing in the center of the universe. Now, you finally know enough to truly worship…

Listen. Listen…
Do you hear anything?
If you hold your heart right
and stay still enough to feel
the yearning breath as it emerges
secretly from the dark lungs of night,
then turns back, then moves again
tensely, timidly toward the light,
half trusting an unseen bridge
to span the fear-filled chasm
stretching to a safe place,
a clearing where the wild life,
deep and rare and beautiful,
finally stands to meet itself,
then, awestruck, bows…
you may be the only one to hear
the first words of a long silent soul
quickened now, and speaking,
singing, in the eternal tongue
of the Beloved.

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There Stands A Little Chapel

There stands a little chapel where folks may come to meet —
a tycoon from his tower, a pauper from his street,
a woman who’s got everything except someone to care,
to see the frightened child beneath her makeup and her hair,

a warrior in his Kevlar and boots with bloody dirt,
a burned-out guilty giver doling down to his last shirt,
a baby’s childless mother still in mourning by a grave,
a soul split half asunder by a love too scarce to save,

a stodgy, uptown banker as dry as any drink,
who hides behind his starched – shirt face while visiting a shrink,
a stately, blue – haired lady barely propping up her pride
while gaining keen awareness of her emptiness inside;

a little boy whose chances are looking very dim
for finding any father who can model love for him,
a hardened alcoholic only sober for today,
who’s now among the powerless, and learning how to pray.

The black, the white, the yellow, the youthful and the old,
the poor ones and the poorer, the timid and the bold,
a pillar of the people who has lived a faithful life,
a mentor and a martyr and a mother and a wife,

the ones with inner demons or with an angel’s wings,
the gay, the straight, the neither, the broken bird who sings,
the brothers in their cages and the sisters in their chains,
the half – alive who know it by the pattern of their pains.

All these the chapel welcomes; there’s fellowship within,
and spaces at the table: freely given; not to win,
where no one judges worthiness to enter in this place,
where no one is forgotten in this circle dance of grace.

If searching for the chapel, don’t look for bricks or stone,
don’t wait for walls of clapboard, or a church house with a dome,
and don’t expect to find it entering some street address
into the modern navigation tool called GPS.

The chapel in this story is standing in the heart
of you and me and everyone, and we must take our part
to open all the bolted doors, to lead the others in,
to love clear through the loneliness, to turn right from the sin.

In sitting down together and sharing in the tears,
in listening to the stories told, and bearing with the fears,
we come to know that love received by any wounded soul
moves back toward the givers with the power to make us whole.

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Sabbath to the Soul

When life falls frantically awry
and distance dims the goal,
when weary minds, too tired to try,
surrender their control,
when steep’s the mountain path to trod,
and voiceless to cajole,
then from the verdant valley, God
speaks Sabbath to the soul.

When deep and dark the days depart
and darker nights steal on,
when death’s abductions from the heart
undo what love has done,
there is a land where saints now trod,
and living waters roll;
there, from the verdant valley, God
speaks Sabbath to the soul.

So turn each tear-dimmed eye to dawn
now rising in the East,
all wandering in search of home,
from greatest to the least,
plant pilgrim feet upon the sod
of Heaven’s hard-won goal,
as from the verdant valley, God
speaks Sabbath to the soul.

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