Cleaning House

Like longtime friends,

these habitual sins,

again and again,

make their home within.

Closer than family,

they know us innately,

fond of their company,

we invite them to stay.

 

We know that we shouldn’t,

we said that we wouldn’t,

we may act like we couldn’t,

yet we’ve made them co-tenants.

They people our thoughts,

doing away with all oughts,

we gave, and they got

to scheme and to plot.

 

How long will they stay?

At least they should pay,

here day after day,

but what can I say?

We’re housemates you know,

‘round the fires warm glow,

these sins and I show,

that we’re friends here below.

 

All greasy and comfortable,

neck deep in our meals,

gluttons ‘round the table,

we like how we feel.

In the basement with despair,

sucking out all the air,

while I play solitaire,

through dirty windows we stare.

 

In the pool, on the patios,

my lusts dance and carouse.

Images from daydreams,

let out giggles and screams.

Feeling popular and famous,

these crowds intravenous,

with raised glasses they cheer me,

in my mind it’s a party.

 

Overhead and around me,

pride’s my structural framing.

With self-love as my floor,

vanity’s my front door.

Mine is a tower on a hill,

flashy and glittery-gilt.

Specters of fame and of stars,

fill this house made of cards.

 

My guests are all clamorous,

freeloaders and odorous.

They are having a ball,

while I trip and I fall.

And of vice these are many,

each one costing me plenty.

Though their promises generous,

my debt’s growing more onerous.

 

I’ll kick them to the curb,

where they’ll no longer perturb.

But oh how entirely absurd,

that I find I’m immured.

The need here is great,

I should not hesitate.

My house is unsound,

but I find myself bound.

 

Looking for an ally,

to crash this mad party,

a Spiritual Strongman

to put this intrusion to an end.

He’ll send them off packing,

with a thorough tongue-lashing,

give my house a clean sweep,

then I’ll have a sound sleep.

 

Once my house is set right,

from its devilish plight,

and my mind is set free,

from this demonic jamboree;

I’ll give my house a remodel,

with thoughts godly and noble,

and through self-discipline and prayer,

this fixer-upper I will repair.

 

~FS

Not A Rhetorical Problem

How can we possibly hear

the quiet and still voice of God

and understand the promise of eternity

amidst the shrill cacophony of death?

 

My senses are tumbled and my mind reels

at the constant, steady drip drip drip

of the loves I have lost lost lost.

 

While the hope of eternal reunion is an image

seen darkly at best through a clouded glass,

I see clearly the path and trajectory of this life,

slipping away, and all I hold dear dying before my eyes.

 

Prayer binds the wounds and soothes the pain

for a time, but then the misery of death marches on.

 

I’m a child with little true understanding

and I cannot pretend to understand,

nor can I play games to distract me

from what I see or from what I feel;

snacks and funny movies don’t help me forget.

 

What recourse do I have here

if I am honest with myself?

Just time, and the passage of time?

 

There may very well be a future hope

and a life eternal, I do believe it.

But flesh and emotion are howling now.

Perseverance and patience

through the suffering, I can feel it.

 

Within the ashes of my loss

there remains an ember of love

a small heat with potential to reignite.

 

I need God’s breath to blow across me again

to bring resurrection and renewed conflagration,

to bring a fire of love that enkindles my limbs,

and enlightens my life while I live.

 

~FS

The Signpost*

Just past midway

upon the journey

my soul slackened its pace,

to find a moment’s rest,

and found a hidden place.

 

Beneath the trees

among the grasses

there stood a sign which read–

 

“Be well, and sortle in this place

but not to slumber relaxicated.

To those prone to urbumpkining

dethrope, unbeam and enpeacelate.”

 

Perhaps this trek had been too dear

my mind muddled from the strain.

The meaning of these words

was hidden from my brain.

 

I drew closer to the sign

to bring focus to my mind.

As the words they carried on–

 

“Despair not, Insprevelent!

Philathea aleatin,

bemosphorel intayalen.

All life is made a Sacrament!”

 

Alas I had a footing

to discern this cryptic writing.

Just enough of native tongue

encouraged me to carry on–

 

“These words writ for discovery

present symbolic mystery,

what cannot be known mentally

can be unearthed noetically.”

 

Then I had a glimpsing

and a notion of its meaning.

A still and silent whispering

and a prayer within me stirring.

 

I mused as I continued on–

‘Perhaps I’m not midway at all

but have barely just begun.’

 

*Glossary:

 

Sortle: a gentle rest for the soul; but one that includes a watchfulness and readiness for spiritual battle.

 

Relaxicated: taking rest to an unhealthy extreme, leading to a sort of intoxication, sloth or laziness.

 

Urbumpkining: derision or prejudice aimed at others; found often among those living in cities towards people of the countryside, although not limited to these groups; acting in an arrogantly derisive way.

 

Dethrope: an act of humble abdication; to dethrone one’s pride while simultaneously disrobing one’s self-esteem and vanity.

 

Unbeam: to focus on one’s own vices for the purpose of becoming virtuous; to ‘remove the beam from one’s own eye and not to focus on the speck in another’s eye’.

 

Enpeacelate: to actively and intentionally seek a state of inner stillness; to set aside that which creates discord.

 

Insprevelent: to find inspiration in the created world and see God’s revelation through the everyday things of life; sometimes used as an expression, or exclamation of encouragement.

 

Noetically: done through the nous or the intellect, but not reason; instead from the heart or the depths of the soul.

 

~FS

The Poplars

Three poplars rising to the sky

reaching upward impossibly high

towering over this earth and me

they tell a tale of eternity.

 

Like Jacob’s ladders side by side

these poplars joining earth to sky

or if they’re seen the other way ‘round

like heavenly arms reaching to the ground.

 

Their crenelated tops swaying in the breeze

sunlight dances upon their leaves

each leaf an angel, each branch a rung

ascending, descending angels in the sun.

 

Swelling, contracting their branches are spun

inhaling, exhaling like an enormous lung

their breathing speaks of hidden lives

beneath, behind this veiled world of mine.

 

Beneath the earth their roots entwined

all three sharing one life we find

appearing as distinct entities

these poplars instead, are just one tree.

 

A symbol of the Trinity

God made for us this poplar tree

the form and symbol very clear

yet subtler made in sun and air.

 

Around and through these trees the rays

of sun and wind about them plays

the Son, the Spirit and the Father

on full display through states of matter.

 

~FS

A Dog’s Prayer

Pride has locked me in a cage, where I sit;

indulging my selfish desires willingly

and becoming bloated by them.

 

My eyes won’t gaze beyond these confines;

while everything they see

appears as a reflection only of me.

 

Free me from this squalor that I’ve loved;

don’t let me be the dog

that returns to his vomit.

 

But let me be the little dog;

who gathers crumbs beneath Your table

and feeds upon Your flesh.

 

Train my eyes to see only you, O Lord.

My ears to hear only your voice, O Master.

 

This pride has left me in the cold;

a heart where dwells my vanity

in sweet and sickly emptiness.

 

Please don’t leave me here throughout this night;

but let me sleep upon Your bed

and feel the warmth that is Your love.

 

Call me from this dog’s house;

into the Master’s chamber

and let me gaze into Your eyes.

 

Place me on your leash and lead me;

tether me to Your mercy

and don’t let me stray.

 

I will wait at the door until You return;

Come to me and let me be

at your side forever.

 

~FS

Footsteps In The Snow

Five men walking through the snow,

walking neither fast nor slow,

no man talking as they go,

five men walking in a row.

 

Dressed in black from head to toe,

like ravens black against the snow,

beneath their cloaks with heads bowed low,

fighting through the wind’s cruel blow.

 

Ahead a tree of gnarled boughs,

an arching, twisting, silent gallows,

the sun’s stark rays casts its shadows,

like Christ’s arms stretched across their brows.

 

Each man arrives at his own tempo,

each casting off his earthly sorrow,

with hope enkindled for tomorrow,

these men together with face aglow.

 

Why do they travel through the snow,

and suffer through the wind’s cruel blow,

to stand beneath this silent gallows,

and offer up their earthly sorrows?

 

To find true freedom from sin’s law,

through Christ the healer of every flaw,

in praise of God with fear and awe,

to sing forever, Hallelujah!

 

~FS

Imprinting

When I was born

I looked up into her eyes

and I dwelt in love.

 

She held me

in her arms and close

to her breast.

 

Her skin was cool,

my thoughts were warm;

at peace and in comfort.

 

Soothed by the maternal

hum and thrum

of her heart.

 

Through water the Lord

led me in

from my wandering.

 

He led me

into my heart,

where peace blossoms.

 

I see His beauty

and understand;

I am cradled in mercy.

 

My thoughts are stilled;

I can hear, and feel, and know,

the birthplace of Love.

 

~FS

A Call To Arms

Lord God disturb the peace

that my complacency enjoys.

 

Bring war and unrest

to my world-weariness.

 

Mercilessly stab the heart

of my selfish complaints.

 

Bring death to the nest

where anger sleeps within me.

 

Cut off the head of my pride

and cast me to my knees.

 

Do all of this I pray

that I may find freedom,

and see clearly,

Your Kingdom.

 

~FS

Keith (A Man of Silent Sacrifice)

At just nineteen he took possession of a mighty B-17,

The Army Air Corp’s durable workhorse

Continental Europe’s liberating air force

The bomber known as The Flying Fortress,

He signed his name on the dotted line, to pilot this war-machine.

 

No longer a boy in Forty-three, he took to the skies in battle,

On December 5 to Paris and back

Then Kiel, Ludwigshafen and Osnabruck

Ringing in the New Year over Cognac,

Five missions into a long campaign, he’s a man not easily rattled.

 

A man of silent sacrifice

Of the special ones who fly

Young men who defend us

War eagles of the sky.

 

A modest spiral notebook logs the record of his tour,

In columns, names and dates and years

No embellishments or fanfare

Thirty missions in European air,

A marathon of horror that most men could not endure.

 

The logbook doesn’t tell the tale of the courage, fear and loss,

Friends like brothers gone too soon

Flak and Messerschmitts at noon

In dense fog the barrage balloons,

Nor does it mention his receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross.

 

A man of silent sacrifice

Of the special ones who fly

Humble warriors who protect us

Liberators of the skies.

 

His was the lead position, throughout life as in the war,

Husband, father, grandpapa

Honor, duty, fidelity

Service was his earthly call,

Giving all on every mission, and leaving nothing more.

 

Upon his final flight from earth, the stars bright in the sky,

The moon casting the fields aglow

Cultivated row upon row

Stars above and stripes below,

Our nation’s banner, as God’s creation, enfolds him in its glory.

 

A man of silent sacrifice

Of the special ones who die

Our fathers who watch over us

The sentinels of the sky.

 

~FS