25 October 2016

How We Learn

She stood in front of her class listening to evil and withholding judgement.  Even students she disagreed with had a right to education, so she guided them toward tools for building clearer and more effective arguments.  When they pressured her to speak on the issues, she made sure to argue both sides.  Good debaters know their opponent’s argument as well as their own. Besides, it was never more than a tenth of the class who challenged her like this—skinheads and racists, communists and religious fanatics, the pro-war and pro-life, homophobes and misogynists.  She sat to read their persuasive essays and to evaluate their speeches, trying to comment objectively.  Some believed what they said, and others were testing out opinions to discover their own thoughts.  It’s best that they hear each other, she thought, that they learn honest debate, that they see fallacious reasoning and evaluate devices used to trick them into agreement.  She saved her feelings for the journal pages she vomited in nightly in order to sleep. She prayed then to be forgiven for not speaking truth to these growing powers, and she prayed for them all.

You are the Sower.
If love and respect you show,
then love’s seeds will grow.


For my prompt Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Neutrality / Objectivity that will open Wednesday at 6 AM Central.  (I was never as neutral as this "she.")

 My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast

Of Translation and Blueprints and Love

'Contained' Crazy Quilt LACMA M.88.86.2
"Contained" Crazy Quilt

Blueprints are visual, words are aural
you say, explaining that the Bible says
In the beginning was the blueprint, not
In the beginning was the word.  You say
eternal patterning contains the all
of us, and I flash on Simplicity
patterns that guided making dresses once
before blueprint projections described set 
design and guided building them in time. 

I recall watching my brother construct
his model cars and planes from plastic parts,
decals and sticky glue I could not touch
while he followed instructions carefully.
But I took words—more finite on this earth—
and stretched their borders without restriction,
quilted the scraps between pattern pieces
and built fantasy cars from skeletons
of prescribed and punched out plastic car parts.

               Can you co-create spiritually
(with words and spaces in between) when tied
to blueprints?  Yes.  I know.  We want icons
with pointers to direct us toward love.
We want a solid base to cure evil
and point us toward love, and God gives this
through prophets and incarnations and words.
We're free to hear them, to follow (or not),
or to construct their temples as we're taught.

Inspired by The Blueprint, a daily meditation
from Monday, October 24, 2016 by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM 
at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

 My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast

22 October 2016

Finding Authentic Prayer

Monet - Waterloobrücke - Sonne hinter Dunstschleier.jpg
Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet

Prayer doesn’t come easily.  It hangs
like Sun behind a cloud of fog.  Sun glows
to lift and break the fog as usual,
but its reliable formulae cease
to work. Fog thickens.  Sun desperately
turns up its flames and calls on Wind to blow—
but clouds of fog thicken into pea soup.

Prayer doesn’t come easily. Open
sesame(s) and abracadabra(s) that
worked yesterday bounce back for more fire—
yet fanning harder also fails, so Sun
lets go of wind and heat.  Weary, Sun rests,
re-energizing with closed eyes.  It’s dark
and silent when fog breaks and light meets Light.

 My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast

19 October 2016

Cultivating Our Garden

Image result for conversations in art

We are people, humans of earth—
a new core to the whole ripe apple—
a multi-racial inter-
faith body of many
and we see us everywhere
we look—the ones and twos we have
sat with in conversation on
race and ethnicity.  Why fear?

We’re friends. We came to unity
through telling stories urgently—
as if our lives depended on
asking questions and relishing
each person’s dignity and each
individual journey home—
a landscape of conversation—
the most beautiful earth of all.

For my prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Conversation

Here's a future vision that comes from participating in NewCORE~a new Conversation On Race and Ethnicity.  The language in italics is from the description of its purpose.  We gather once a month for a long breakfast to listen to a speaker tell their story and draw them out further until we are nourished in every way.  It's the most hopeful group I know.  We are not great at keeping up a website or being on Facebook, but we connect by email and then we show up.

I think this is Part One of an epic poem detailing real conversations.  I wonder if I will ever write it!

My blog poems are rough drafts.

Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast

18 October 2016

Listening to the Music of the Nght

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship
~Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man”

Oh Jesus!  Here I am up late again
aware of your call “Follow Me,” trying
with clumps for feet and wobbling knees and head
that’s leaning back to pause my forward step.

Oh Jesus!  I hear loud the part that gives
before the triumph of last surrender—
the chapter after promises at birth
and early years with rabbis in temple.

I hear that when you left the pavement,you found
narrower roads with companions at hand
and plowed them like the fertile fields they were,
took them on board your ship that cut the waves.

Friend Jesus, That small ship was theirs and you
both welcome guest and safe pilot through storms
with cloak enough to shelter multitudes
and faith and friends enough to feed them all.

Oh Jesus!  Your music has me dancin’
when I would rather sleep, and singin’ though
my voice is not a performer’s treasure
In truth, I’d rather sit right here until found.

Dear Jesus, Forgive my hesitation--
I thought it was Dracula who defied 
sleep's call and howled at night to defeat death.
To find you near instead, I'll give up fear.

And dear Jesus, I will calmly prepare
the journey, leave my home, and yield other
destinations.  Wait, please.  In the jingle
jangle morning I’ll come following you.*

*from "Mr. Tambourine Man

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast

17 October 2016

The Burning Bush We Choose Not to See

File:Book of Exodus Chapter 4-5 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media).jpg
Commons: Bible Illustrations 

Is this bush burning for me, too? This one
insisting I accept the life of love
that claims my spirit?  No second guessing,
no supposition that it's mere ego
self-congratulating, or . . . . Listen: 

How many calls can you prepare at once? 
Me with only two feet to follow one
path of bread crumbs.  (If only Moses’s
hard-burning bush was a short pre-arranged
pathway and not a long, blind leap of faith!)

I say trail-blazing and ministry serve
for love, dear God, but you respond with more
fire until I finally see that this 
bush, too, love-filled and  brilliant, 
burns for me.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast