the holiest place

Last night, back at the farm for the rest of the Shalom Mission Communities camp meeting, we enjoyed a musicians and poets gathering. Heather offered this poem-prayer, based on Psalm 123. It was inspired by circumstances one summer that had sent her bicycling from church to church, asking for a temporary place to stay.

I lift my eyes to you Lord for a moment—
Then the light turns red and I brake.
The sun stares down hotly at this grimy-sweat stranger,
Glances sharp off the comfortable windows of cars
At the bike swimming desperately through traffic.
The girl waiting frantically for her God.
If you look closer, Lord, you might see my eyes have changed.
They're slave's eyes now; they watch your raised hand and know
You owe me nothing. Not the pay from my work, not shelter tonight,
Not protection; (the locked door we need, we who are prey). —Mercy.

So for mercy I come to these clean doors of glass,
to beg at this sanctuary of ease.
Inside, the cool air greets my face like a blessing. My stumbling story spills
Out among the organ's booming praise. My listener (busy frightened eyes)
Escapes the panhandler at last. I will see no other grace
From those who've always had what you owe no-one. The stares
Soak in like sweat stains. I am an insult here.

Rose, who I met through the Jesus Radicals discussion forum, also shared a poem that I really liked (and it offers a meaningful contrast to Heather's experience that summer):
I rush out of the house finely dressed in my sunny day best
And run straight up the trail to the holiest place in the meadow
Sheer grace all around me
I look up at the heavens so gospel true blue
Oh it's here that I come when I'm wanting to pray
When there's something needs saying to you

In my wildflower church I kneel down with my knees in the dirt
Full exposed to the heavens, no props no pretentions
Just this feeling I get and these thank yous to set on the altar

Yes this is the place where I gather my blessings
And make my confessions of passions inspired
By meadowsong choirs and moments transcendent and true

Oh give me this day a full measure of beauty
Of sun in my heart and joy in my duties
And let all who I meet share a taste of this sweet
Nectar communion with thee

Her 6-year-old daughter, Sophie, also went up to the microphone to sing a song, introducing it by saying, "This is really a kid's song, but I'll sing it anyway..."