More like Mary


Pregnant     by Burke Sperling

I dreamt the other night
– You were pregnant.

This is the second time now…
The odd thing though is
I was deeply stirred.
     Aroused by the curve
Of your belly,
The swell of your breasts,
Your glow.

You are like Zeus or Hera
Bearing a child out of yourself…
But no –
     More like Mary; you have
Had deity shine upon you –
Blessing has
Been conceived

I’m in awe as I daily
Watch this seed
Grow and take shape
     Within you.

Sometimes frustrating,
You see only the burden
     You fear the unknown,
          You feel the unworthiness
               You are lost in what will be…

Other times the excitement of
     New birth
          New life, and
               New dreams
     As you radiate hope.

Drawn to you,
I am awakened by your vitality
Your muliebrity.

     You are woman,
          You are a new Eve.

Written by Burke Sperling: father, friend, teacher, mentor, poet and more than meets the eye.

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These “howling shrieks” are to be contemplated as we consider the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25).

Here is Recluseangel‘s artful “scream” against the abuse:


Howling shrieks rouse the midnight hour

“Her wounds” awaken to the tune of a different serenade…
Effortlessly down the stairs she glides,

“Her wounds” cry a melancholic strain

The music plays …

She gladly makes new wounds of resilience

They spew from their mouths liquid ruby

The music plays…

As the night grows on he drinks her poison

Never did she look so inviting

“All along my ghost has cradled you to sleep ”

“I’ll calm your raging sea and balm your wounds”

“The wait was long but now I shall love, dues have been paid” …

With tired eyes she looks at him and lulls their gaping mouths

“Let the music play”she says

His ghost cradles her back to sleep

Her wounds go on another night to awaken to the tune of a different serenade…

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The Art of Vengeance

Shalom, Makoto Fujimara

“Art goes to where words cannot reach.”
James Romaine

This reminded me something Odysseas Elytis said so long ago (note: “Wanting to be Heard“):

The lack of synchronicity between nature and man caused the lack of synchronicity between body and soul.  When the nightingale isn’t heard, the Molotov cocktail is.

What do Molotov cocktails say? I was reminded of something in “Do we get what we deserve” when Charlie Hebdo was attacked in January 2015.

I don’t think people groups [we might consider] our enemy “deserve” disrespectful satire, any more than I think Hebdo’s satirical provocations deserved this terrorist response. But for the intolerant, terror is the only utensil in their toolkit that reaches places argument cannot; surely terrorism is a hammer continually looking for a nail.

I wondered about how “for the intolerant, terror is the only utensil in their toolkit that reaches places argument cannot.”  Depending how you look at it, is this the same as: “art goes to where words cannot reach”?

The Art of Self-Destruction

In Romaine’s interview with artist Erica Downer, she comments on her sculptured works of art:

My work often has wires or other sharp things that protrude like weapons that keep the viewer at a certain distance… I think that speaks to how we are self-destructive… I am working on some pieces that resemble maces or clubs. But the way the pieces are constructed, they hurt the user as much as the they hurt the person being clubbed. Furthermore, using these clubs will destroy them as well because, while they are sharp, they are also delicate. They are much like us in that way.

From “Objects of Grace: Conversations on Creativity and Faith,” by James Romaine.

“Art goes to where words cannot reach.”

Artist Albert Pedulla observed the way art has a way of penetrating our culture that arguments d0 not; he says,

I think what is interesting about mystery, about the spiritual, is that it penetrates your rational defences. It disarms us.

Art as Prayer

Japanese artist, Makoto Fujimara was the director of the “International Arts Movement” out of New York when he was working on a project called “Art as Prayer.” Having been near the Twin Towers on the day of 9-11, he comments,

What we saw were two “art forms.” The terrorists’ “art” of vengeance contrasted with the heroes of 9-11 whose “art” was their sacrifice… These are two clear opposing ways of creating.

What Art are you creating?

May your creations enjoy the impulse of the Creator:

Who creates and recreates with artistic flare and beauty.

Who restores and replenishes with care and kindness.

Who protects with a fierce love and a mighty motive.

May your art be prayer, and may your prayer be something beautiful for God.

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On Sacrifice

“Over the Top”,

On Sacrifice, by Kelly Davidson

My father was a fighter pilot stationed in Germany during the Cold War. His much older brother, Ken, spent all of WWII as a sailor, clinging to the frozen railing of a Corvette in a convoy of ships in the North Atlantic. Their father, my grandfather, was a gunner with the 10th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery in WWI. All were just teenagers when they enlisted. This was a time in history when nations still considered Christian, were not afraid to call evil: evil. It is not surprising that my grandfather’s Bible is replete with prayers for the Army, Navy, Victory and Peace.

My father recounts his father’s experience in the trenches at Vimy Ridge this way:

Dad along with others in his gun crew, would load and fire their cannon against the enemy trenches and positions almost continually all the while dealing with the constant shelling and mud and rats and all the horrors of that time.

Dad had a very close friend in his crew and the two of them had been together since they enlisted as very young men back in Saskatchewan. On this particular day, April 9, 1917, they were part of the major assault by the Canadian Corps on the German forces dug in on Vimy Ridge and were firing almost continually at the enemy positions prior to the actual attack.

His next memory was waking up on his back in the mud and feeling this terrible weight on his chest and the terrible pain.

After a few moments he realized that someone was lying on top of him and he struggled to roll the body off only to find that it was his best friend, and he was dead. Father was badly wounded with shrapnel in his chest and would later be evacuated, first to a field hospital on the coast of France and then later to a hospital in England.

In the hours and days spent lying in a hospital bed he said he could not escape the realization that had it not been for his friend standing next to him, he probably would have been killed also. This painful truth is something he carried with him for the rest of his life.

In John 15:13-14 we learn from Christ: “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” My grandfather, lying critically wounded in the trench in France, weary and troubled in ways we cannot imagine, must have, in that dark place, turned his eyes upon Jesus to look full in His wonderful face. In the context of life and death and eternity, the things of this earth indeed grow strangely dim.

All these gallant men in my family are and were people of faith. They served their country to fight tyranny and the oppressor. They had a high calling, so high in fact, that they were willing to lay down their lives as Christ did for us.

Here in Canada, thanks to the men and women who fought and continue to take a stand against tyranny, we enjoy freedom from occupation, yet still we long for freedom from the oppressor, not just for our lives but for everyone in this broken world.

Thus we pray that God would make us a people zealous for peace and hasten that day when nation shall neither lift up sword against nation nor within nations nor learn war anymore.

In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay. Hebrews 10:37

This fractured world covets your prayers. I will offer up this prayer from my grandfather’s Bible:

Grandfather Patrick Davidson’s well worn Bible

Heavenly Father, ruler of the universe in whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation, we give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy, and for those who laid down their lives to defend them.

Give us the victory over those who would destroy our souls. Teach us your ways so that we might walk in your paths and be more than conquerers through Christ who saves us.

Even though we live in a world of tribulations, we are not fearful and afraid. Thy Son, our Saviour, said, “I have overcome the world; my peace I give unto you.”

Give us this peace we pray. In Jesus holy name, Amen.

 Kelly Davidson is a teacher, lover of literature, disciple of Jesus Christ, life-long learner, and long time friend.

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How we begin to remember

Paul Simon in Africa, 1987.

Under African Skies

by Paul Simon

Joseph’s face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked his days
Under African Skies

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing ‘round my nursery door
I said, “Take this child, Lord
From Tucson, Arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won’t bother you no more”

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Joseph’s face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked the length of his days
Under African Skies

© 1986 Words and Music by Paul Simon

There is such joyful melancholy in these lyrics; the tone, the melody, the lyrics combine to make us want to know this Joseph whose path was marked by the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, and who walk the length of his days under African skies.

We want to know the story of how we begin to remember the powerful pulsing of love through our veins – being caught up in the roots of rhythm and the roots of rhythm remain.

I have a friend who relies on rhythm; sometimes when we worship or pray, he’ll put on jazz in the background to supply some down beat as we up-pray to the God of remembrance and rhythm and pathways under African skies.

For an interesting analysis of this song, go to “Every Single Paul Simon Song.”

To view a live performance, see “Live from Africa, 1987.”

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More Beautiful for Being Broken: The Flask

More beautiful for being broken: the flask

The alabaster flask was more beautiful for being broken
releasing a pervading fragrance to anoint you –
the only thing you wore on the cross;
Well after you were scourged and naked,
there lingered that scent of love
lavished by a broken woman
from a broken vessel.

Is this true of me – beautiful for being broken?
Releasing a fragrance to bless –
the only thing I wear as I carry you on the cross;
Well after I am wounded and naked
there lingers that scent of love
lavished by brokenness on brokenness.

Let me embrace Your frailty;
You who broke bread to let me taste You
To help me remember You
To reveal to me the cost of love;
You would not merely view from a distance
But broke in to let me out.

More beautiful for being broken:
“She has done something beautiful for me. 
 She did what she could.
 She poured perfume on my body
 So wherever the good news goes,
 what she has done will be told.” #

# Mark 14:6-9
Image from “”; note “The Broken Jar“.

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More Beautiful for Being Broken: Scrubbing my Soul

Scrubbing My Soul, by Amy Israelson

I sit,
wondering if I can ever beat
Beat this anger that is bubbling up inside of me.
It feels wild, volatile, untamed;
Like a whip, eager to lash out – 
to sting like I’ve been stung!
The kindness of yesterday melts away like a spring snowfall, revealing the dirt and grime underneath.
It is ugly.
I feel ugly.
Years of dirt and decay lie exposed.

Hate: rotten, stinking, potent.
How can this be inside of ME?
I look away.

Yet the storm brews.
I stir; wondering how to calm the soul within.
     “Be still.”
          But how?
               “Be still.”

The Psalmist says:
     “I have stilled and quieted my soul,
      like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
A weaned child? Resting. Nestling. Beloved.

How about
     “a clenched fist”;
          “a wild storm”;
               “a garbage heap”
                     is my soul within me?

I search for an image, placing my hand on my heart.
     “Lord, what is the state of my soul?”

It is in the crook of a darkened room,
scrubbing a filthy wall on my hands and knees:

“A sooty cavern.”
And there I am:
     In the corner,
          Hunched over.
               Face scrunched.
                    Eyes narrowed.
                         Sweat dripping.
Trying to scrub it clean!

I have made progress.
A small patch of wall,
about the size of a handheld mirror,
is white – ish.

Jesus comes into my cavernous room.
With light about him.
Emanating from him.
Walking into the room,
with radiance around him.

The walls (I notice),
become bright, themselves full of light: gleaming back at me.
Jesus stops and waits.
I am full of awe and spin around on my knees –  to face this Light-man. Jesus.
My heart leaps inside my chest.
He IS light. He BRINGS light!

“Jesus,” (I laugh!)
“it is THAT easy for you, isn’t it?!”
My God who turns my darkness into light!
He smiles – He radiates with joy and brilliance.

“Will you drop the rag you hold?”
He asks compassionately.

Yet I stiffen.
     Resistance rears up.
          Pride roars.
               I grip the cloth.
                   I want control!

What should I do?
Jesus has invited me to cease.

I keep my face towards the Light-man,
not wanting to return to a life of scrubbing.
I sit and watch him:
Jesus at ease in my mess.
His shoulders unburdened and his posture open;
He is completely at home with soot-covered me.

I return to this image for weeks,
striving – willing my resistance to fade.

Finally, something in me breaks.
“Who am I kidding?!”

I drop the rag and move toward him
I finally let myself go, and fall into his arms.
He laughs, embracing me.

“Now THAT wasn’t so hard, was it?!” 

“Be still” is the voice of the Light-man.

In this quiet moment,
The walls melt away –  
giving way to a free, open space –
fresh air and sunshine swirl around me,
fields unfold in the distance.

Overwhelmed by a sense of joyous adventure,
I dance.
Like a little girl, I twirl freely – arms wide open.

How is my soul within me now?
It is….
     A dancing child.
          A bubbling brook.
               A wide-open field.
                   A forgiven daughter.

Amy Israelson is an educator and life-long learner in the curriculum of the Spiritual Life. She is, as we come to recognize this in ourselves, more beautiful for being broken.

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