Tag Archives: poem

Animals in the era of the Gutenberg Bible

Inspired by old Bibles: printed with ink and sometimes gold foil on linen or vellum paper, bound in leather, and sometimes nibbled on the shelves

Gutenberg_Bible,_New_York_Public_Library,_USA._Pic_03

Gutenberg Bible 02 by JMWK via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6mPsxs

The mice know
taste and see that the Lord is good.
The bookworms
find refuge, God is their hiding place.
The sheep
has written the law on its heart.
The cow
lets the word pierce between bone and marrow
Saying,
“Let my body be a living sacrifice
consuming and being consumed by
the Word.”
And the word is holely,
not solely locked behind glass
in a library but grass.
Yes pieces of it were in the
‘adamah
once the worms that ate it decayed
and they fed the green pastures
where the shepherd let his sheep lay down.
And the sheep laid down its life
and was bound with cords
on the altar
to free the people
from ignorance.
The word was living and active,
the word became flesh
and it was created from gold dust
it was earthy
and uncontainable
as precious as delicious.


Stained Glass (spoken word video)

To all us glass objects… what if our brokenness makes the light beautiful? An inspirational poem about grace. (Click here to watch video)https://youtu.be/19tsHh2IGHI

 


Matilda: The Truest Fiction (Spoken Word + Video)

Matilda cover4Watch the video on YouTube or read the poem below.
*trigger warning: child abuse*

What if I told you
That Roald Dahl didn’t write Matilda –
Matilda did.

She could read nearly as soon as she could talk,
So no one was surprised when she grew up to become an author.

Believe with me for a moment that
she tried several times to write an autobiography
but it was too painful to share.

So instead she created Roald Dahl,
wrote his autobiographies “Boy” and “Going Solo”
which of course were realistic fiction.

Next she tried to reach out to her younger self,
With stories of villains vanquished by children.
Stories with lots of funny bits, like children’s books ought to have.

But when a boy came over for tea
from what she would later call Crunchem Hall Primary School,
She realized children needed to hear her story.
She decided to write fictionalized reality.

The headteacher who tested students on their times tables
And insisted on perfect cleanliness
would be called Miss Trunchbull.

Yes, people would be caricatures with labels for names
like Miss Honey the teacher and Mr. Wormwood the car salesman crook.
The kid readers would never wonder who was bad or good
Because Miss Trunchbull would never put on charity fairs or give scholarships
and the parents would be nasty and dumb.

The horror of the headteacher’s office
Would not be rumors of what he did to little boys there
It would be something concrete,
a cement cupboard lined with objects that pricked you.

And since teachers couldn’t stop the menace,
Matilda’s burning anger would become a magic power
She would save the kids and send Miss Trunchbull away for good.

Of course, in real life there was no magic.

Just because Matilda could read books on the top shelf
Didn’t mean she could reach them.
Even as the cleverest student in the class
Her brainpower produced no miracles or even cunning plots
Only test scores that made Crunchem Hall look good
And a tendency to distrust her feelings.
And no matter how her eyes burned with anger
She couldn’t lift a finger,
much less levitate a piece of chalk to write threats from a ghost.

But write…
maybe she could write
words powerful enough to right wrongs.

Miss Trunchbull got away with outrageous evil
Precisely because parents found it unbelievable
Truth is stranger than fiction, Matilda learned,
So call it a story if you want people to listen
Peddle lighthearted darkness.

Yes, she could write a comedy
where everything was obvious
and the vulnerable were protected by mysterious forces beyond their control
she could write it for the children
perhaps not an autobiography, strictly speaking,
but it’s what she would have wanted to hear.

She hoped
that some precocious child who escaped to the library
would find her book on the shelf
would laugh at Matilda’s pranks
would know that justice wins in the end.

What if Matilda could save some kids yet?
Invite them to believe something so strange it might be true
That life is a comedy
That children’s books always have a happy ending.

… or in that case, what if Matilda wouldn’t have to save them?
Characters are not responsible for meting out poetic justice.
The author of the children’s stories would give them happy endings.
Mysterious forces protect the vulnerable
And I hear God’s in the business of saving.

What if I told you
the story isn’t over yet
but I know it will end well.
Believe with me for a moment.

What if I told you
The truest fiction I know how
Would you believe me?


Shalom 02: The Homecoming

Peace is “salama” in Swahili, much like the Hebrew shalom. The Homecoming is a poem about finding wholeness (view pdf).

Photo credit Steve Rasmussen

Photo credit Steve Rasmussen


Holy Week Women (Spoken Word Video)

Cover Hannah RasmussenIn preparation for Easter, I’m asking: how the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection relate to mine?

Through spoken word, I tell how God gave women big roles in the first Passover, Good Friday and Easter – but we don’t always hear the whole story.

Click these links to watch the video or read the words.

This is part of my group guide for young adults curious about gender and the Bible, which Christians for Biblical Equality is publishing this year. Let me know if you’re interested to learn more.


Labyrinth: A Patchwork Psalm for the Road

Birthday card (from Amani ya Juu in Kenya)

Birthday card (from Amani ya Juu in Kenya)

Exactly 22 years after

crowning at my dawn birth

and nearly a month after

cap and tassel crowns me an adult

 

I stand at the crossroads and look.

 

Behind me are

the jobs I turned down and the ones that turned me down,

the housing offers I passed up

because my gut wouldn’t settle.

 

Ahead of me is

where the sidewalk ends

and before the street begins.

 

I used to walk

hoping the length of my strides

would project strength I didn’t have on the inside.

 

This time I humble my pride,

silence myself to seek the ancient paths.

 

A ring tone

an editor

tells me my writing will be published.

a coauthor

quotes Antonio Machado

“Caminante, no hay camino,

se hace camino al andar.”

 

In Walden’s solitary naturescape

feet padding to the pond

wore a groove through the grass.

 

A ring tone

a stranger

calls me

to work on the Africa Study Bible team.

the job

calls me

to move to Nairobi.

 

I wanted to settle

two more years at least in Minnesota

but my gut

freed me of job or house ties.

 

There is no reason I couldn’t.

 

A ring tone

my pastor

calls me

to read Isaiah 42:16:

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not seen

Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.”

 

For my birthday my parents give me

a card from Kenya –

flipflops and a proverb:

“The path is made by walking.”

 

I will be collecting proverbs

connecting them with scripture’s wisdom.

 

I have already started.

 

New things shown

God

calls me

“This is the way, walk in it.”

 

I have already started.

 

Sing into the unknown

I

call out:

 

“If you will be with me

   On this journey I am taking

If you will give me food to eat

   And clothes to wear

So that I return safely

   To my father’s household.

Then you, Lord, will be my God

   And I will follow you.

 

“Like in blindfolded partner dodgeball,

Your voice will tell me “This is the Way.

Through a shadowed valley,

    Your word is my streetlamp.

I wait for your direction

I listen to your commands.

If I do what you want

   You will make certain each step I take is sure.

You hold my hand

   So if I stumble, I still won’t fall.

Knowing you will never forsake me,

    I walk with grace and confidence.

 

“You go before me,

   You hem me in behind.

I trust in you,

Because you are the path-maker.

I step inside your footprints

You have already pressed the snow smooth.

 

“Your ways are higher than mine,

You see the labyrinth’s end from a bird’s eye view.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

   Too lofty for me to attain.

 

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;

    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

 

I have already started.