Breaking

This poem emerged as I thought about news stories and headlines I encountered last week (April 3-9, 2016).  Many other things also happened, but those referenced in the poem capture some of my ambivalence and worry about how we imagine and talk about life today. The poem also celebrates the ways people “walk on” through and in spite and in the face of life-denying headlines. Note: Doris Day’s dog is named “Squirrely.”

They gave up the ghost this week.
No more walking dead

for now

except the comatose American economy or is it “finally waking up”?
My neighbor with the zombie car battery
who can’t get her to her minimum wage, 25 hours a week job
four miles away
doesn’t think so.

And Apple? showing its age “maturing”

while Doris Day
“turns 92, shows adorable pic with her puppy”
Squirrely

Meanwhile
Alabama governor’s future “looks bleaker”
Cruz and Sanders celebrate in Wisconsin
Mississippi protects “sincerely held religious beliefs”
Pay Pal decides not to login to North Carolina
Tennessee designates the “Holy Bible
as the official state book.”

Newsfeeds are push-back-from-the table full
while “Conflict in Eastern Ukraine leaves 1.5. million people hungry.”
Perhaps Tennessee will feed them now?
“If you offer your food to the hungry. . .”

Breaking news
Breaking into homes
Breaking onto shores
Breaking out
Just breaking
hearts
spirits
dreams
lives

But mere clicks away from Flipboard and the front page
a mama puts a Hello Kitty band aid on a skinned knee
a large hand holds a small hand as first steps are taken
a young man breaks bread with a grieving grandma
Bailey learns to ride a bike
and Chris says no to the bathroom bully.

Season finale: walking dead
It’s time, don’t you think?
to walk
away from the headlines
for a little while anyway
one foot in front of the other
alive. Finally.

Nature Photo Challenge

A friend invited me to participate this week in the #NaturePhotoChallenge. For seven days, I posted nature photos on Facebook. This was a fun challenge. Here is my week’s worth of nature photos (I posted two squirrel pictures on the same day):

Winter Drama II
Mapping Winter
Winter Sunlight 2
Winter Sunlight
Winter Journeys
Winter Journeys
Winter Untitled
Winter Dreams
Winter Hope
Winter Hopes
Ice Faces
Winter Ice Faces
Squirrel 2
Winter Squirrel
Squirrel
Winter Squirrel II

Cedars in Snowy Places

Winter is coming. But even in winter-dead forests, cedars are green forever. Not boisterous or extravagant. Steady. Green in every season.

Advent Reflections for Winter Solstice

Winter
Solstice.
Gyroscopic dance choreographed by Earth’s axial tilt.
Sun stand still
Longest night,
shortest day
Yule
Midwinter
The land is vulnerable now,
sometimes covered by snowflakes
that have let go of something
somewhere
up there
and pirouetted down
down,
down
from the heavens
to enchant rooftops
and leaning-over farm fences
and autumn-tarnished grass.
And while tulip bulbs repose
in unseen silence
beneath the austere earth,
cedars in snowy places
fragrance the cold air
with emerald stillness
and praise the December moonlight.

Winter is coming. Soon, cold will blow up on our doorsteps and clamor to get in through our windows. Winter is coming. But even in winter-dead forests, cedars are green forever. Even when all other creation colors hibernate. Cedars remain. Not boisterous or extravagant. Steady. Green in every season.

On this longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, I am grateful for cedars in life’s winter place. Cedars perfume the air with God’s evergreen promises during a Christmas season when so many hearts are broken and so much about our world causes spirits to ache. Thanks be to God for people who are “home” to us in every season, for places that cultivate our best selves, and for Gospel promises with deep roots that even in wintry times know how to live on.

**Note: Winter Solstice happens in the Northern Hemisphere in late December (11:48 p.m. ET, 10:48 p.m. CT, 9:48 p.m. MT and 8:48 p.m. PT on December 21 and on December 22 in other places in the Northern Hemisphere).

Photograph, “Cedars in Snowy Places,” by Sheila G. Hunter, all rights reserved.

Maundy Thursday: Reflections

Mabry Mill Upside Down
“Mabry Mill Upside Down,” by S.G. Hunter

Bread.
Sourdough.
Pumpernickel.
Rye.
Old standbys—wheat and white.
Bread.
The stuff of life.
We break it, eat it, think almost nothing of it.
Golden-crusted loaves seasoned by the smell of the earth
Passed from me to you to the stranger.
We cannot live without it—
The bread or the sharing.
Grace.

Green grapes
“Green Grapes,” by S.G. Hunter

Wine.
Poetry bottled and decanted.
Kiss of sweet grace on thirsty lips.
Wine.
Remembrance seasoned by the taste of the earth.
Spilled out between us,
For us,
You and me and the stranger.
We cannot live without it—
The sip of mystery or the sharing.
Grace.

Passerby
“Passerby” by S.G. Hunter

Water.
Trickling.
Surging.
Moaning.
Water.
We bathe in it, fear it, plunge its murky depths.
Washing over weary feet,
Soaking chafed hands.
We cannot live without it—
The brooding Spirit,
Sea-lapped promises on sun-singed shores.
Grace.

Bread. Wine. Water.
The earth.
Broken.
Poured out.
Stirred up
In us.
Remembering that does not forget
Hungry, wilderness people
In neighborhoods, towns, cities.
Bread. Wine. Water.
Our hands
Baking, pouring, washing.
Gifts of God for the people of God.
Grace.