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Thoughts in Verse

I tend to think in verse.  Some call it poetry.  Some may have a higher standard for using the word “poetry.”  I make no claims.   

Rhyme and Meter – S. Miller 2/19/15

Rhyme and meter do not a poem make;
but I like to rhyme just for rhyming’s sake;
and if the meter puts the words in a natural stride
it resonates in me with something deep inside.

Maybe it’s just lyrics I like to write,
with meter that’s loose and rhymes that are tight.
You may call it a poem or call it a song,
Call it what you like; you’re probably wrong.

I start writing with something to say,
but words and forms can get in the way;
So I just let my fingers get past my mind.
I’m sometimes surprised by what they may find.

Directions – Stephen Miller, April 7, 2013

I took a wrong turn.
Made a big mistake.
Wrong choice.
Headed straight to hell.
If I had gone the right way,
lived by the rules,
accepted the script,
if I had only chosen well,
I could have been successful,
lived a good and comfortable life,
had tranquility and abundance,
if I had only chosen well.

But I took a wrong turn,
and I’m thankful.
I made a big mistake,
and I celebrate.
I made the wrong choice,
and I’m so glad.
I headed straight to hell,
and it has worked out well.

Forged by the fires of my own making,
carved out by the pain of my consequences,
learning compassion from my guilt,
washed in grace beyond grace,
I am whole.

I am whole and wholly torn apart.
Still wracked by regrets,
still unable to receive all that is given,
still in process, 
I am whole and wholly torn apart.
And I am grateful for my messed up life.

     I like    S Miller 2/28/15

I like sunsets and midnight stars
and early mornings just before dawn.
I like midday in the mountains
and dusk in the bosque
and sitting down to BBC news at 5:30 pm.
I like day and night and earth and sky.
I like that my dust and ashes are incarnate.

I like standing in the darkness
to be aligned with the rising moon.
I like when everything flows
and peace rises with that massive moon.
I like when the moon and my body
transcend ego and history and shit.
Then I can let go – and I am whole.

God is a Nickname           S Miller 2/29/15

If I could reach beyond the universe
and see within each star,
If I could understand the mystery
even of who you are,
If I could totally receive the nurture
Mother Nature wants to give
If I could know the deepest dimensions
of what it means to live,
I might begin to tell you about God.

God is a nickname
for the mystery no one can name;
God is a nickname
for more than we can claim;
God is a nickname
for what underlies energy and matter;
God is a nickname
for a lot of theological chatter;

If I could catch a deeper dimension
and enter the universe next door,
If I could get beyond my culture
and relate to every ancient lore,
If I could be part of a forest
and be at one with all the trees
If I could find deepest intimacy
with every wind and every breeze,
I might begin to tell you about God.

God is a nickname
for depths reflected in words.
God is a nickname
reflected in the singing of birds.
God is a nickname
for what some feel as the Force.
God is a nickname
for what keeps history on course.

Yes, a Reality beyond us calls us and holds us,
yet the Relationship is not captured by a name.
Many names and many concepts point in a direction;
follow that direction.  Where we end up is the same.

God is a nickname
for eternity filling all time;
God is a nickname
for some things base and some sublime.
God is a nickname
for whatever transcends space.
God is a nickname
for spacelessness filling this place.

If the arc of history moves toward justice,
and as you can see, it does,
Then Love is what will gradually be
regardless of what was.
‘Cause Living Love is intentional
and active every day,
I see Great Love all around me
in much more than I can say
So I can’t really tell you about God.

God is a nickname
for the Love that calls us out;
God is a nickname
for what life is all about;
God is a nickname
for the heart of the collective unconscious;
God is a nickname
for all that unites all of us.

Insensitivity   3/5/15

I look at the beauty of the mountain and think awe
but don’t feel it as deeply as I know it.
I hear the wonder of a song and appreciate it,
but no chill goes through my veins.
I recognize the wonder of love,
but I really take it for granted
and know many people don’t like me.
I see the buds of new flowers and think that’s nice,
but it’s nothing special.
I know there are none so blind as those who refuse to see,
but it doesn’t awaken my senses.

This!     5/13
inspired by an April 25, 2013 Krista Tippett interview with Marie Howe on “The Poetry of Ordinary Time,” and an April 30, 2013 Common Dreams article by Frances Moore Lappé on “After Boston, Eyes-Wide Open Hope?”
This is.
This moment,
this place,
this breath,
this sensation.
This is.

Peet’s Pew    7/13

The man next to Carrie on the pew at Peet’s Coffee
had a Bible – well worn – and a theological dictionary.
He and Carrie didn’t speak.
Of course they wouldn’t have
even when that pew was in a church
and towns hosted churches.

   A Human Doing    6/13

A human being is speaking on the radio.
I hear a voice articulate words in a language.
Behind the microphone a the complexity of meanings.
An ego projects confidence.  What’s underneath?
Words are the script.  What’s the speaker thinking?
I hear a voice. Is a stomach also growling?
The words on the radio mask the human doing.

Depth Charge     6/13

Milk is good.  I like it.
Buttermilk’s better.  It gets my attention.
Grape juice is good.  Grape jelly is fine.
But I’d sure rather have dark dry red wine.

A major easy key sounds nice.
Minor keys are better.  They get my attention.
Resolved melodies go well.
But dissonance is where I dwell.

A gentle stroll can be pleasant.
A hard workout is better.  It gets my attention.
A walk in the park can be fun.
But my body craves a hard run.

A simple story can have meaning.  It’s okay.
Heavy complex drama is more likely to get my attention.
Happy endings definitely have a role.
But joy in the midst of pathos feeds my soul.

A comforting faith is good. It gets us through hard times.
Challenging questions are better.  They get my attention.
Building on a tradition can keep one growing.
But I choose the bottomless pit of unknowing.

 The Mosaic of Life    8/09
(at the “Joining in the Praise of the Universe” event)

The hillside sloping to the stream
hosts trees, bushes, grass,
and litter.  The mosaic presents itself.life photo

Dried grasses are pressed to the ground
awaiting a new season to stand erect;
nestled among beer cans and cigarette butts
the writing on a package reads, “Wild Erection Maker.”

Life’s longing for itself reaches for connections.
The grass awaiting renewal, the beer relieving defenses,
the sex merchandise inviting intimacy –
all distorted by hard realities –
continue to demand to stand erect, and to connect.

The litter is closest to the roadside.
We may stand in awe
or we may rush by, throwing our lives out the window;
Moving down the hillside
verdant shores slope to the stream
which flows to the river, to the gulf, to the ocean, to life.

God Hides
Is God hiding?
Gone from the sky?
Not walking in the Garden?
Escaped from our images?

The Hebrew God survived
partially by commandment:
“Make no graven images.”

The gods of the ancient world
were typically gold or silver.
They could be stolen or melted.
But the Hebrew God escaped.

If our image of God
limits God to heaven,
or to a man upstairs –
an old man in the sky –
to masculine form,
or to any specific image,
the image may melt or be stolen.

“Graven” means (by Webster)
“carved or shaped with a chisel”
or “impressed or fixed
(as a thought) deeply.”

But a God as elusive as wind,
as changing as time
yet constant as air,
lives on
even as our images melt.

Praying to the River    12/10
The indigenous woman
on “Living on Earth”
prayed to the river.
I wondered which drops
heard her prayer.

Then I realized
we all pray to the River –
Whether to the Banks
or the Water
or the Flow to the Sea.

Everything changes.
A new year is dawning,
and it won’t be like the last.
A new world is forming
leaving behind the past.
The planet is spinning,
and days spin by fast.

Some may say they pray to the rock –
that solid rock on which to stand –
a God who is never changing.
Yet even the rock erodes with time
and may crumble into dust and ashes.
I’d rather pray to the flowing river.

The banks of the river may crumble.
The river may change it’s course.
The waters may rise and fall with seasons.
Flood stage and drought may be trouble.
But the river is alive.
The rock is not (at least in this metaphor).

The River carries me on to the sea –
a sea beyond where I’ve been.
Along the way there’s much to see,
and we won’t pass this way again.

So I pray to the River though I fear the sea.
None of the waters could ever be tame.
From rapids to tides to the clouds and the rain
The waters of all are ever the same.

No Time    9/08

I have no time for poems and songs
And yet they ache within me.
“To do” productivities weigh me down
And bury the muse that would be.

I long for a time and maybe a space
For my muse to find resurrection,
So I write things down in meter and rhyme
To be ignored till they find rejection.

Dark Ages to Enlightenment       6/26/15

The journey from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment
pulls consciousness relentlessly.
Thus it may take centuries for any of us
lest we be blinded by the light.
Once enlightened, however, facts seem much clearer
as the light of science and technology illuminate.

Problem:  In the Dark Ages we saw the stars better
and absorbed meanings within Mystery.
In Enlightenment, stars are objects lightyears away
to be explored by telescopes and documented.
In Enlightenment, Mystery presents a challenge
as an obstacle to be overcome or solved.

Maybe life is best when light and dark take turns
and we can stand in awe and still understand.
Maybe day and night are needed for wholeness
and we can study and learn and still dream.
Maybe illumination takes place in total darkness
and we can still be blinded by the light.

Maybe both sound and silence are required
to make both speech and music.
Maybe both intuition and reason provide truth
to reveal the complexity of reality.
Maybe both cognition and emotion are valid
to empower our senses in both darkness and light.

The journey from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment
happened in a blink of an eye in historical context.
Centuries come and go, and humanity trudges on,
most of us unaware of beauty in light and darkness.
Awareness: May the next era be the Awareness Age
in which humans begin to notice.

Time and Eternity    7/26/15

Father Time and the Eternal Mother
got together one eternal moment.
Father gave her the time of her life,
and he would have stayed forever;
Mother let him be lost in timelessness,
and she wanted him all the time.
I am the result of that eternal moment.

I set my timer while I meditate
to keep me from checking my watch.
I schedule time for timelessness
and then worry about the time.
I take a walk with no deadline,
then worry I won’t be back in time.
I long for that eternal moment.

Is Time the creation of my longing for order?
Is Eternity some hypothetical concept?
Is Time the enemy of my to-do list?
Is Eternity the fantasy of my mortality?
Is Time the friend of my memory?
Is Eternity the hope of transcendence?
Can I live in both Time and Eternity?

Eternity seems to be longing to enter my time
softly breathing the invitation.
Time seems to long to settle into my eternity
militantly resisting its own desire.
Father Time and Eternal Mother
split up without compromise.
I am the result of that broken relationship.

The Eternal Mother needn’t wait;
she simply savors the universe.
Father Time marches on;
he futilely follows an unknown destiny.
Eternal Mother and Father Time
live in the tension of star-crossed lovers.
I try to balance relating to both.

Tranquility    8/9/15

A walk in the woods,
stopping to smell the flowers
and listen to the birds –
A tranquil morning in a beautiful forest,
all nature singing in harmony,
an awe-inspiring vista stretches out,
and the universe holds me in her arms!
I need those moments of reverie.
But overall,
No thanks!
As a regular diet it seems tranquilized to me –
Give me reality:
I want to wrestle with the angel –
my anxiety and the meaning of my life,
The complexities of our political realities,
The stress of unrealized possibilities.
I want to enter deeply
into the Incomprehensible –
The Mystery I can never understand –
The Mystery I trust understands me –
The Power at work among us
that transforms lives
and pushes history toward justice.
I want to wrestle with the angel
so I must wrestle with my demons.
Give me reality
so I may yet have glimpses of peace
rather than settle for tranquility.

I’ll still take a walk in the woods,
and I enjoy being surprised by flowers.
The singing of birds inspires and delights,
and moments of tranquility refresh,
but only in the context of Reality.
Much great music is in minor keys.
Let not pleasantries mask heavy arguments.
Resolve conflict rather than avoid it.
Give me reality –
Then I can live in great thanksgiving!

Worshipping the Mystery
    on World Communion Sunday    10/4/15
I have decided
that the mass should be in Latin.
If we’re going to recite words we don’t believe
it should be in a language we don’t understand.
Then the words won’t get in the way of the Mystery.  

I’d like to send my right brain to the Episcopal church on Sunday
and send my left brain to the Unitarians.  
But somehow, at the Episcopal service my left brain interrupts
and at the Unitarian service my right brain is thirsty.  

Values from my Disciples heritage stand fast.
“No Creed but Christ” leaves room for freedom.
Equality, love, and justice with mercy guide my politics.
Simple unregulated liturgy inspires creativity.
too much born of the Enlightenment,
too much conflict avoided,
too much 19th Century liturgy,
being all things to all people leading to no identity
leave my roots seeking new nourishment.
The changing of eras (or is it errors?) calls out to me;
the crumbling of Western Civilization creates vacuums;
new media, new science, and new consciousness attract me.

So I wander in the wilderness
looking for the promised land.
I hunger and thirst,
but I’m not sure it’s for righteousness
(unless that means being right with the universe).
I get glimpses of the Mystery
in experiences, meditation, music, readings, conversations,
even, though seldom and marginally, in church.

Will I be a Moses who gets a vision of the promised land
but who is not allowed to enter?
Or will I be denied even the vision?  

All the world is in communion today.
Isn’t it always?
Is it only those who gather at a named table?
It is only those who accept an articulated creed?
Is it also for all creatures great and small
though in a language they don’t understand?

A Mountain Road        3/23/16
On a mountain road
my friends were looking for an eagle –
or at least for some dear or an ermine.
I decided to look for some trees –
and a forest, and a sky.
I decided to see various life forms
I didn’t have to identify or quantify.
I decided to see our earth
and maybe our universe.
I was not disappointed.  

No disrespect
for the human need to name,
nor awe at the unusual,
nor the sense of order in categorizing,
I can get into any of it.
But once in a while
isn’t it wonderful
to simply bathe in beauty,
to soak up the essence of all,
to be one without words.

Sometimes I pray      12/13/15

Sometimes I pray to an old man in the sky,
    and sometimes to a woman,
    and sometimes to something androgynous,
    yet still very anthropomorphic even if vague.

Sometimes I pray to an energy field all around me,
    and sometimes to the energy in outer space,
    and sometimes to something deep within me,
    yet still very imaginatively vague.

Sometimes I pray to an “empty” place in the cosmos
    and sometimes to imagined dark matter,
    and sometimes to what seems nothing at all,
    yet still very numinously real.

My mind is so frustrating.
    It demands images and even words.
    Yet isn’t prayer
        more like standing before a mighty surf,
        or gazing in awe at a sunset,
        or looking in the eyes of a curious child?
    Isn’t prayer like making love with the universe?

The Mystic’s Struggle         4/18/16

My prayers fly into the veil
    and disappear into the floor.
The veil, it turns out, is permeable enough
    to absorb my prayers.
My spiritual energy flows up to the walls
    and stalls there.
The walls that seem so strong
    yield to the flow.
My being longs for a thin place
    between my consciousness and the collective unconscious,
    between earth and heaven,
    between body and soul.
The thin places dissolve
    as I connect with others,
    as I see earth and heaven as one,
    as my embodied soul becomes centered
My longing for deepest intimacy with the eternal
    is blocked by my own mortal skin,
    and it awaits the culmination of history.
Yet deepest intimacy with the eternal is mine
    by the grace that transcends my ego,
    and emerges as a spark of the eternal moment.