Monday, June 30, 2014

Sofia

It is a land out of plane,
out of square and off plumb,
where no two cobbles agree,
and tiles and bricks come out as nonconformists,
where the streets fear to lose themselves in parallels
and the painted-postered buildings offer no relief from the cacophony of sight,
in the city of Sofia,
variations on a theme of chaos.

On a Service in the Hagia Sophia

Water-clear chant pours from the loft,
echoed on column, nave, and icons,
golden harmony on gilt leaf;
voices raised in praise,
fingers lifted in blessing.
Candles slowly burn,
liturgy tumbles mellifluous from the priest,
chords, inversions peal from the choir
for centuries and millennia,
for glory and for beauty.

Song to Roofing Materials in Sofia

I fly over a city
of pasts quilted together in roofing,
keeping the rain out with the several histories of Sofia.
The red tile,
itself a son of native soil born,
bowed, beaten, unbroken beneath the weight
of memory and millennia, fading in the sun.
The metal sheets,
a desperate roof for a desperate time,
now rusted or gone like the glory of the partisans.
The Soviet cement,
gray glue bonding the ruins of the fruits of empire,
long outliving the beauty it never had,
shaped in a past age, still shaping its people.
The gleaming glass,
Western hopes transparent,
through them we still see rain.
But last,
the golden domes,
radiantly holy in the setting sun,
set atop that city twice freed but never lost,
this newfound
and ancient
Bulgaria.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Song to Christ

We are upheld in the hand of this
wonderful wise God,
most mysterious His ways,
how seed sunk in soil sprouts,
how high heaven heaves and atoms too,
the planets and the protons heed His law,
yet He leaves us not sunk lost in law of our own nature
but sends Seed to sprout to life from death,
Christ, conqueror and Creator,
first fruit of resurrection,
Lamb slain, spat upon and mocked,
who rose and stands at the hand of God
and calls, clear as the trumpet ever shall be,
Come!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sin and Grace

    Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
        or who has been his counselor?”
    “Or who has given a gift to him
        that he might be repaid?”
    For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
-Romans 11:33-36

There is a dark
like a leech
like a mouth
devouring and enslaving
without satiety
without regret or remorse
and this is sin.
It lodged long ago in the heart of Lucifer
until he would rather die than
submit to the all-glorious God
(though he'd rather all else die first).
It ate the heart of Adam and Eve -
what knowledge was worth that price? -
yet they would have it
(has God really said?).

Yet we are not Eastern,
yin is not matched by yang,
and sin is not matched by God.
Oh no,
it is overthrown entire,
the mouth not satisfied or filled,
but the belly slit,
and the devourer devoured.

This God did (oh mystery)
in the death of Christ.
The grave choked on its prey,
and vomited him back
(he took life up again,
having laid it down a while),
and has not ceased to disgorge souls
called by the gospel truth
and summoned by the Spirit.

The grace is more,
much more,
that words fail to encompass,
but it is greater than sin.
God is greater,
Christ is greater,
and He in us is greater than him who is in the world.

There will be pain and sorrow,
sin is not freely forgiven -
but the debt is paid by another.
Confess and come to Christ.
He will not despise.

    On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
        a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
        of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
    And he will swallow up on this mountain
        the covering that is cast over all peoples,
        the veil that is spread over all nations.
        He will swallow up death forever;
    and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
        and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
        for the LORD has spoken.
    It will be said on that day,
        “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
        This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
        let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
- Isaiah 25:6-9