Rise Up, Sweet Soul

Rise up sweet soul with wings of the dawn;
the sorrow has ended, the shadows have flown.
Take Heaven in your hands and never let go—
The Spirit is calling you home.

A clear horizon awaits your eyes;
Deep blue forever before you lies.
That great eternal rest for the soul has been won—
Lie down with the setting sun.

The life you lived will carry us on.
Your faith and compassion will be our song.
We’ll be together again when life becomes light—
In a land where there’s no more night.

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Labor Day

Some mornings on my way to work
I see him waiting, anxious to cross
when traffic has slowed.

At times, I catch him heading back
with a loaf of bread or quart of milk,
leaning and limping.

We hurry on. Mustn’t be late, we say.

I’ve never seen anyone with him.
I’m late for work.

He is old.

Some days are hot. Some, rainy or cold.
Seasons change. His clothes do not.
Plaid, untucked, short-sleeve shirt,
work pants like my Grandpa wore –
too large for his legs.

In my rear view, he shuffles back,
bags in hand.
Cars come faster. I wonder…

What will happen
with the hobbling hands of time?
Will work-bound drivers
slow to stopping like they used to
for processions of the dead?

Here’s a more pressing question.

Would I slow to a stop
if I passed that way today?

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At the Corner Coffee

Somewhere in a sprawling city
children deal their lives away.
Kings and statesmen show no pity,
turn their heads another way.

Meanwhile, at the corner coffee,
Mr. Joe sits pensively,
full of years and books and stories,
one foot in eternity.

What if they could get together,
troubled kids and elders meet?
Seasoned grain and splintered saplings.
Lives beginning. Lives complete.

Sit awhile and sip some coffee.
Look each other soul to soul.
Share their struggles and their triumphs
(friendship is a noble goal).

Maybe youth would learn to listen,
linger in good company;
lonely old folks gain companions,
building a community.

Doors close at the corner coffee.
Hearts hide from an unnamed foe.
Old lives make their journey homeward.
New lives have nowhere to go.


I Sing Because…

I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free.

I sing because, in the final hour, I know Love carries me.

I sing because many souls before, though drifting into death,

found the praise and prayer and faith to sing with their last remaining breath.

I sing because He bent to me where I’d fallen by the road,

and with great compassion, dressed my wounds, and He bore my heavy load.

I sing because He looked at me with a light that love had made

and a voice truer that truth itself, saying, “Do not be afraid.”

I sing because, in the final count, no mistake can match the weight

of the mercy holding up this world, making foolishness of fate.

I sing because of the Singer that remains inside of me

when it seems the bird of hope has flown to the reaches of the sea.

I sing because of the Artist’s wells of watercolor tears

gaining deeper hues through the sufferings that mark our living years.

I sing because of the ones who can no longer find their voice,

who’ve been muted through some circumstance, or perhaps an errant choice.

I sing because of the table set with a place reserved for me,

and a feast befitting kings and queens, which is absolutely free.

I sing because you’re singing, too, with a voice that sounds like mine,

in a choir with parts for everyone, and a score by Love’s design.

I sing because the rhythm dancing ever in the skies

is the sound of hearts that beat as one, and a song that never dies.


I Will Lift My Lamp

When you look at me now –
Me, as close as your own breath –
what do you see?

They say there’s no recognition,
no spark left in those brain cells
that know a mouth, eyes and cheeks
make up a face; much less, mine.

But what do you say?
After all, you’re the only one
who knows what you know.

Your eyes, hot spirit springs
that have always healed me
go cold and still as lakes
just nigh of freezing.

How could they not tell me
a day would come when
I’d be unable to see my reflection
in your waters? To feel your warmth.

But where is your soul
in all this forgetting?
Where is mine? Where is…

A place where hearts are one,
where good names are remembered,
a space beyond sparkless brain cells
and unspeaking eyes.

Can we find it if we draw near enough?
I will ask God to show us the way.
Come close. Let’s be silent and still.
I will lift my lamp for us to see.

What Can I Do?

I woke today and rose to meet
a world of disconnection.
So many stare but cannot see
themselves in their reflection:
A child, now old, that was not held,
still longs for validation.
A youth whose life unfolds without
adults’ participation.
A victim of some middle-aged
retreat into addictions.
An elder left alone to deal
with frailty’s ill afflictions.
What can I do, how can I show
the light of love to others?
How can the story of my life
inspire my sisters, brothers?
In truth and authenticity
I’ll tell them of my struggles,
of grace found in surrendering,
of trust made strong through troubles.
I’ll look inside myself to find
the child not shown affection,
the elder struggling all alone,
the youth with no direction;
the man or woman too ashamed
to leave the road to nowhere,
with sight too dimmed to recognize
the ladder up to somewhere.
And most importantly I’ll spend
time looking in the mirror,
to find the one God sees in me,
to make that image clearer
so many disconnected souls
can raise their hands together,
and lift the candles lit by Love,
drawn in the spirit’s tether.