Celebrating Sunrise

Through weeks of gray days,
clouds followed snow followed clouds.
Until today. 
In pre-dawn darkness, 
my phone’s weather app promised
an hour of sunlight at dawn,
and I seized it 
with both hands and both feet,
with my walking stick and camera,
and a joyful soul. 

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Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise and sunset, indistinguishable 
unless you know what direction you face. 
East or west, forward or back, living or 
giving up, giving in, saying goodbye. 

Does this gold signal a new day dawning?
An invitation to work, a promise, 
possibilities, hopes, dreams, a future, 

if we seize the day and work together.

Or does dusk follow, fading into dark? 
Sunset shadows, shutting in, shutting down, 
time to go, moving into that long night.  
I am not ready—I say it is dawn. 

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Truth and Poetry

Conundrum is the word of the day says

Merriam Webster Thesaurus online.

Not helpful, say I, wanting only a

sibilant synonym for tree—but not 

spruce or sapling, neither the actual

tree or trees silhouetted in dawn’s light, 

inspiring a poem. What is truth?

And what is poetry? And can the two

coexist? A conundrum for today. 

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Morning Walk, January 7

Walking toward sunrise, subzero, barely.  

Snow crunching underfoot the only sound
in a white landscape, beneath a white moon 
floating and full above bare, black branches. 

Morning sun chases the moon from the sky, 
sets snow sparkling, silhouettes oaks and elms,
awakens birdsong, brightens into day. 

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Ending 2022

Winter sun sets on 2022, 
a year of giving up and giving in,
of taking a precautionary cane 
on snowy winter walks—but walking still,
a daily battle with the world’s despair.

Against the drumbeat of the nightly news, 
a pastor-politician voices dreams: 
“Democracy is the political 
enactment of a spiritual idea: 
the sacred worth of all human beings.”

Two days’ thaw—and in the back yard, beneath
soft snow, mounded like mulch, I see next year’s
tulips, radishes and arugula,
see planting, voting, never giving up: 
hope drips from eaves to light a winter day. 

Soon must the winter of our discontent, 
this cold dark night of war and frozen hearts,
give way to sunrise of the dawning year,
and spring of dreams and bold imagining. 

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Fourth Sunday of Advent: Be Not Afraid

Photo by Alex Harden, licensed under Creative Commons.

Be not afraid, the angel tells Joseph.

We have much to fear. 

Hatred sucks at the very bones of our nation, the original sin of racism a still-growing cancer. White Christians, whether evangelical, mainline Protestant, or Catholic, are more likely than other groups to believe the lies of white supremacy and racial superiority

Around the world, wars drive people from their homes and countries. 

In Ukraine, Russian bombs destroy schools and hospitals, target power plants and leave people in the dark and cold of a winter as fierce as our own. Sunday’s forecast for Kiev has temperatures from 16 to 27 degrees, with snow and northwest winds at 15 to 25 miles per hour. 

Glaciers melt, forests burn, and money talks louder than faith. Preachers and presidents pander to power. 

A young woman is unmarried and bearing a child. She is filled with grace and courage and strength. Believe in her and in miracles. 

A child is coming. Hope in the child. 

Be not afraid, the angel says. 

Prophets still speak in our day and we can hear them. Reverend William Barber II, founder of the Moral Mondays movement, writes:

“In a movement based upon moral dissent, defeat does not cause us to doubt our purpose or question the ends toward which we strive. We do not belong to those who shrink back, for we know the tragic truth of history. When oppressed people shrink back, they will always be forgotten and destroyed. Faith-rooted moral dissent requires that we always look forward toward the vision of what we know we were made to be. But defeat can and must invite us to question our means. While realism cannot determine the goals of our faith, it must shape our strategy in movements of moral dissent.” 

Our children are organizing, and we can follow them. Greta Thunberg is just one of the strong voices for change. Speaking at the Youth4Climate summit in Milan, Italy, on September 28, 2021, she said:  

“We can no longer let the people in power decide what is politically possible. We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is. Hope is not passive. Hope is not blah, blah, blah. Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action. And hope always comes from the people.” 

Listen to today’s prophets. Hope in the children. Believe in the possibility of change. 

Be not afraid. 

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Third Sunday of Advent: Hope and Promises

Advent candles, Third Sunday
Advent candles, Third Sunday, photo by Melly95, used under Creative Commons license

Today’s scripture readings describe a time of contradictions and miracles. A time of lifting up those who have been put down. A time of hope, echoing through the prophets and psalms and Gospels.  

We need hope right now: facing a bitterly divided political landscape, hospital hallways crowded with waiting patients as the triple virus threat fills all beds, and fields still dry and parched under the thin covering of early winter snow. In a country divided by fear and prejudice and lies, in a world still wracked by war and hunger, I struggle to find hope. I struggle to believe in the power of love and the promise of new life. 

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom,” says Isaiah. Rain will come, in abundance. The land itself will rejoice.

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Second Sunday of Advent: Whose Christianity?

Grandma Mary Elizabeth McCoy Turck

John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

I read this and translate: “Do not think you can say to yourselves, “We are good Christians, good Americans.” 

Claiming the name of Christian is not enough. We are judged by the fruit that we bear.

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Advent … Staying Awake … Part 2

Capitol Christmas Tree from 2009, tree with multicolored lights in front of lighted Capitol dome at night

I was struck this morning by a few paragraphs in historian Heather Cox Richardson’s daily “Letters from an American” blog. She wrote about several topics, including the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree:

“Speaker Pelosi was lighting the Capitol Christmas tree with fourth-grader Catcuce Micco Tiger, who is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and has ancestry from the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

“Tiger won the role of youth tree lighter with an essay sharing the Cherokee origin story for evergreen trees. “After creating all plants and animals,” Pelosi explained, “our Creator asked them to fast, pray, and stay awake for seven nights. But at the end, only a few were awake. The trees that stayed awake were rewarded with the ability to keep their leaves yearlong and with special healing powers. It is a story of faith and gratitude—of hope enduring through the dark night.”

“’And,’ Pelosi added, ‘it is hope that we celebrate each holiday season—that through the cold and dark winter, spring will someday come.'”

As I read this Cherokee story and the admonition to celebrate and hold on to hope, I heard echoes of Sunday’s Gospel admonition to “Stay awake!”

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First Sunday of Advent: Stay Awake!

Free public domain CC0 photo.

Stay awake! The phrase echoes through scripture readings for the First Sunday of Advent. 

  • Keep awake for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 
  • Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep.
  • The night is far gone, the day is near.

Stay awake! And in that biblical phrase, I hear “Stay woke!” 

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