Love Takes Home the Prize (a little poetry slam attempt)

jacob's well
Jacob’s Well in Texas

Hello, dear readers. I pray everyone is safe in the aftermath of the recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires.

Oy vey, this world.  What is the DEAL with it?

As I fight my own battle with depression, I’m learning that fighting it is exhausting, like trying to climb out of a deep well where the walls are slick and there are no footholds. I’m learning to be still, let Jesus shimmy down the well to where I am, hold and comfort me, and then lift me to safety. I know He will because He always does. As surely as death or taxes.

I have recently become addicted to watching poetry slams on YouTube. I love the wordcrafting and tempo, the emotion and power that go into the slamming. I would love to write poetry for a gathering of slam fans, but I don’t really have the guts to do it in front of actual people, so I’ll just do so from my little corner of the world here at The Beggar’s Bakery, where I don’t have to stutter or worry about what to do with my face or hands in front of people.

Here is my slam of the day.  It’s my first in this style of writing. Chalk it up to a mid-life crisis.  It almost has to be read aloud, and gives little credence to punctuation and grammar and all that jazz.

It may be pure awful. Something I look back on publishing and cringe.  Trying new things is hard. But hey – that’s always a risk when starting anything new. Right?

 

By: Jana Greene

There is no love apart from God

That being who embodies us

And shines like glass inside of us

Reflecting who He is.

Not given straight-up, tidy, neat

This thing we make about ourselves

This thing that wracks and wrecks ourselves

Spills over, out, and through.

We look at life through half-blind eyes

Despairing at the poverty

Body, mind soul  poverty

that chokes and breaks our hearts.

How can you say that God is Love?

I’ve heard asked in angry tones

Broken, acrid, angry tones

Where is He in the hurt?

Has Love gone void in this dark place

Where pain crushes the human race

This fickle, tender human race

And leaves it there to die?

But I say ‘no’; do not give in

To throwing in the towel, my friend,

The towel so soaked with blood and tears

Wring it and be free.

Chin up, all creation!

Rise up, all you nations!

And then crouch down with fellow men

And make yourselves Jesus to them,

For he is inhabiting you.

It’s not by spell of your own power

But by His Spirit enmeshed in you

The Friend he left to dwell in you

Manifesting Love for you.

Like liquid gold, let it flow

Out from the vessel and into the mold

The empty, barren, starving mold

In your brother’s heart.

We see here through half-blind eyes

Through the glass darkly in side of us

But even in spite of the dark in us,

Love takes home the prize.

 

 

I Hope You Know

I hope

By: Jana Greene

I hope you know it wasn’t you,
When all of it is said and through,
When damage from the floods recede,
I hope that you can still believe.

I hope you know I really tried
To reconcile the pain inside
And find a way to overcome
Before my pieces came un-done.

I was walking wounded then,
I didn’t have the tools to mend….
I tried to stick close to your side.
I failed, but Jesus knows I tried.

My instinct is to protect you, love.
I lost the strength to rise above
So I did the only thing I knew,
To protect my spirit, too.
And in time, I withdrew.

I hope you know it wasn’t you.

Afraid to open doors to ghosts
And raise the specters I fear most,
I faded off into the clear.
(I can only survive from over here.)

I’m still un-done in places, you see,
Where life has gotten the best of me,
But I love you all the same.
I hope you bear no fault or shame.

You mean the world to me still now.
I don’t know when or where or how
To make things better, so I pray
God smile upon your life today.

God show mercy on this soul
Whom I love and lost in whole,
When the pieces threaten to unbind,
Give peace to this anguished mind.

When memories keep on pushing through…
I hope you know it wasn’t you.

 

More than a Survivor

I interrupt this blog series about the 12 Steps to post this message that God gave me during church last Sunday. He kind of won’t get off my back writing it, like maybe someone else out there needs to hear the message. So, here we go.

Step Eight seems like a good place to take a rest anyway.

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“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness

of slavery on you.” – Galations 5:1 (The Message)

MORE THAN A SURVIVOR

I don’t want to be a survivor anymore,

Staggering through future’s door

Waiting for there to be more

Than just getting through.

A survivor’s a great thing to be,

It’s just not enough for me

To have made it through the dark melee

And be on the other side

Of the abuse I suffered as a child,

The alcoholism that reviled

Against me as I reconciled

The present with the past.

I waved the white flag banner high

And shook my fists at a broken sky

It is finished, and yet nigh

I’m still shaking wounded fists.

It is for freedom we’ve been set free

Not just scraping by you see,

Or living in fragility,

No slavery harness holds.

No more do I accept as fact

That giving up is giving back,

That white is white and black is black,

Redemption is complete in me.

I’m empowered by the force

That set the earth upon it’s course,

I’ll live no more with bleak remorse

But as one favored by the Lord.

A survivor’s a great thing to be,

It’s for freedom I’ve been set free

Abundant and exceedingly

No more a slave to past.

I’m picking my mat up off the floor

And walking with surety through future’s door,

Head held high and in bondage no more!

More than a survivor.

– Jana Greene

MORE

more

Father, Son and Holy Ghost
We’re the ones you love the most.
It’s only in You that we boast,
But Abba, we want more.

Over all and under none,
Not by our might, but what you’ve done
The battle has been fought and won,
But we want more of You.

When we worship and adore
In our pews (and on the floor)
Until our hearts can take no more,
We want more of You.

Your presence like a gentle breeze
Is a prompt, a holy tease
Of what will bring us to our knees,
More and more of You.

You made the earth, the moon, the stars,
And still make time to heal our scars
Freeing the prisoner from iron bars
But Abba, we want more.

Radical Savior, we seek your face
An avalanche of holy Grace
To overflow, fill every space
With more and more of You.

Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End,
Counsel, Provider, Redeemer and Friend
Calling out torn hearts to mend.
Give us more of You.

Drench us in your Spirit sweet
From the top of our heads to the soles of our feet,
Only then are we complete.
More and More of You.

 

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?” – Luke 11:13 (MSG)

Breathe Joy into Me – a poem, a prayer, and a plea

POEM

God,
I’ve been feeling so discouraged,
Two steps forward, one step back,
Feeling like my soul is tired,
Over extended, under attack.

Oh to have my joy back!
I know it is mine for the asking.
To gain it I must first surrender to you
The pain that my sadness is masking.
The tiredness, the sickness,
The constant striving,
On my own human power
It keeps me from thriving.
Oh, God, please be infused in me.
They way Holy Spirit desires to be.

I want to have my joy back –
That birthright you left in the empty tomb.
I want the peace – the good shalom –
You left me in that Upper Room.
The weary dark replaced instead with
Your open, welcoming arms,
The chronic illness bested by
Your protection from all harm.

Oh God, please inhabit me, my
Source of peace so close to me
That Holy Spirit breathes in me,
Breathe joy into me.

Remind me that two steps forward –
In spite of the one step back –
Still means that I am traveling
On the forward-moving track.

Oh to have my joy back!
I know it is mine for the asking.
Oh, God, please be infused in me.
The way Holy Spirit desires to be.

And all the days of my life I will be,

Yours.

Pathway to a Richer Life

By: Jana Greene

God,

Your plans are perfect, holy, good.

Mine lead me in the wrong direction.

My plans don’t work out as they should,

Flawed and full of imperfection.

Your mercy, it endures forever.

Mine toward others? Not always so.

Depending on my mood and temper,

My mercy will often come and go.

Yours is the path to righteousness,

Of light and honor, love and grace.

Mine is the path of least resistance

My flesh seeks a faster pace.

Show me where to venture next

(My sense of direction? It’s off by a mile!)

And I will follow your inflection

Instead of the pulling of my own guile.

Not because I’m so deserving –

A member of this human race,

But because your love does no deserting,

You run towards those who seek your face.

God,

Your plans are perfect, holy, good.

Mine are often cause for strife.

Teach me to follow your will and way,

And mine will be a richer life.

 

Your Words and the Strength to Bleed Them – a poem

“CUTTY SARK” painting by Paul M. Kruemcke (my beloved grandfather “Papa”)

circa 1966

By:  Jana Greene

“And I’m bleeding, and I’m bleeding, and I’m bleeding
Right before the Lord
All the words are gonna bleed from me
And I will think no more
” –  The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army

Words

like the ocean when you are standing at the end of the world

right about to fall off the edge.

Just when you think you’ve run out of sea

the world becomes round and look! 

Endless more!

More to say.

More to think.

More to write.

Units of communication,

Words,

transfused into us by our Creator.

On the waters of written language

The world takes passage in order to think.

Thought-provoking words inspire

ignite and set into motion

Kingdoms, governments and laws.

I write in order to unthink.

Unable (unwilling)  to tourniquet the thoughts

with substance or busy-ness or logic,

the flow commences with a single prayer,

“Lord, give me the words.

And lend me Your strength to bleed them.”

Words, woven together

one pitifully weak and thin thread at a time.

One narrow thread of thought,

 meaningless by itself,

white with a memory of bliss until it bleeds from the loom pink,

and then red with heartache.

Keep weaving until the thread changes to the blues of struggle

and the yellows of rejoicing,

and a million shades in between.

My history

thread by thread

word by word

becomes a sail.

Patched when torn

woven with those glorious words

for which God gives us with generous abundance.

Which God reminds us to use carefully.

To choose carefully.

To bleed wisely and weave gloriously.

Under the wind of His grace…

To sail upon.