Psalm 7: Stressed!

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 7 in which the psalmist’s weakness is laid before the Lord’s strength. The very first verse sets the tone:


A plaintive song of David, which he sang to the LORD…
LORD my God, in you I trusted;
save me; rescue me from all who pursue me

Psalm 7:1-2



At times in our lives most of us feel “pursued” by some inimical force … financial worries, relationship concerns, family upsets, health challenges, work problems, the deficits of aging …. and on and on.
Life is challenging to say the least!


David felt that kind of stress too and asked the Lord to do something about it:

Do me justice, O LORD, because I am just,
    and because of the innocence that is mine.
Let the malice of the wicked come to an end,
    but sustain the just,
    O searcher of heart and soul, O just God.

Psalm 7: 9-10

David seems to be claiming God’s favor because of his own innocence and justice. Actually, though, reading the entire psalm, we get a wider picture. 

David realizes that his soul’s equanimity must be grounded in a just and reverent life. Given that, he will be able to meet life’s stresses with peace and trust in God.

A shield before me is God,
    who saves the upright of heart;
A just judge is God,
    Who is not angry with us.

Psalm 7: 11-12

We can learn a lot from David’s plaintive song.😉


Poetry: No, my life is not this precipitous hour -Rainer Maria Rilke

No, my life is not this precipitous hour
through which you see me passing at a run.
I stand before my background like a tree.
Of all my many mouths I am but one,
and that which soonest chooses to be dumb.
I am the rest between two notes
which, struck together, sound discordantly,
because death’s note would claim a higher key.
But in the dark pause, trembling, the notes meet,
harmonious.
………………… And the song continues sweet.

Music: The Lord is My Strength and My Shield – Hosanna Music

Psalm 103: #BeLike

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

March 6, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103, an effusive canticle on God’s unbounded Mercy.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
    and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits.
He pardons all your iniquities,
    he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
    he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

Psalm 103:1-4

A sufficient prayer today would be to thank God for our experiences of this overflowing mercy. But our Gospel tells us there is more to it. There is a response required of us.


If you’re into social media like Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed the popular meme “BeLike”.  (A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that becomes a fad and spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture, often carrying a symbolic meaning.) Here is an example of the  #BeLike meme posted by the NJ State Police.


If our psalmist and evangelist were writing a meme for today’s readings, it might look like this:


That’s the message.
I’m spending my prayer time with just that today.


Poetry: The Prodigal’s Mother Speaks to God by Allison Frank

When he returned a second time,
the straps of his sandals broken,
his robe stained with wine,

it was not as easy to forgive.

By then his father
was long gone himself,
leaving me with my other son, the sullen one
whose anger is the instrument he tunes
from good morning on.

I know.

There’s no room for a man
in the womb.

But when I saw my youngest coming from far off,
so small he seemed, a kid
unsteady on its legs.

She-goat
what will you do? I thought,
remembering when he learned to walk.

Shape shifter! It’s like looking through water—
the heat bends, it blurs everything: brush, precipice.

A shambles between us.

Music: Father, I Have Sinned – Eugene O’Reilly

Psalm 50: Clean It Up!

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

March 2, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 50 which Wikipedia describes as “a prophetic imagining of God’s judgement on the Israelites”.


It’s a rainy day here, after a foggy yesterday. A cheery psalm this morning would have been nice…. but, well it’s Lent.

Why do you recite my statutes,
    and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
    and cast my words behind you?

Psalm 50: 16-17

The psalm is a divine rebuke. It shouts, “Wake up! You’re missing the point!”

Psalm 50 calls us to examine the failures in love that we might bury under routine. It demands that we look under the surface of our daily practice for the depths of grace and transformation that we might be overlooking.


We can get pretty comfortable with our beliefs, our judgements, our attitudes, our habits. Left unexamined, these can deteriorate into prejudices and indifferences, into bigotry and self-righteousness, into betrayals of mercy.

Today’s Gospel gives us a perfect description of what happens to us when we fail to discern the “hardening of our spiritual arteries”. We get Pharisaical! Here’s what Jesus says about pharisees:

… they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’

Matthew 23:4-7

Let’s learn humble, contrite self-examination by sincerely praying Psalm 50:

Those who offer praise as a sacrifice glorify me;
    and to those who go the right way 
    I will show the salvation of God.

Psalm 50: 23

Our first reading from Isaiah sums it up:

Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
    cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
    hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Isaiah 1:16-17

Poetry: God must give us a renewed mind (from Vale Millies) by Hadewijch. She was mystic of the 13th century
English version by Mother Columba Hart, Original Language Dutch

God must give us a renewed mind
     For nobler and freer love,
To make us so new in our life
     That Love may bless us
And renew, with new taste,
     Those to whom she can give new fulness;
Love is the new and powerful recompense
     Of those whose life renews itself for Love alone.
— Ay, vale, vale, millies — (farewell, farewell, a million times)
     That renewing of new Love
— Si dixero, non satis est — (If I can speak, it is not enough)
     Which renewal will newly experience.


Music: Psalm 50

Psalm 51: In Accord with Your Merciful Love

Friday after Ash Wednesday

February 19, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 51, that magnificent penitential psalm which is one of only seven among the 150. The psalm, set between two readings that do with fasting, suggests that what we should “fast” from is sin.

Some interpreters attribute the psalm to David, deeply repentant after his treacherous acts toward Uriah and Bathsheba. Others say that this was a subsequent assignation because the psalm so fit the incident.


Whatever the case, Psalm 51 gives of us a picture of someone profoundly aware of failure in faithfulness to God – not just a sin against another human being, but against God.

For I acknowledge my offense,
    and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight.”

Psalm 51:5-6

Still, coupled with this aching repentance
is the absolute conviction
of God’s superseding Mercy.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
    in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
    and of my sin cleanse me.

Psalm 51: 3-4

The psalmist has a large, lyrical notion in mind:
that God should take the scattered, chaotic, failed self that he is,
and out of it form a new, restored self.
The movement from failed self to restored self
is a gift asked of God in confidence.

Walter Brueggemann: From Whom No Secrets Are Hid


Praying with this psalm, the symbol of an arrow came to mind. You might have noticed the symbol recently on Valentines Day, used to describe the power of love to engage the heart.



But if the arrow is broken, how will it be made whole again?

Lord, you will open my lips;
and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

Psalm 51:17-19

On this Lenten journey,
may we bring contrite hearts
– our “broken arrows” – 
to God,
asking to recognize our failures in love
and to repent sincerely of them.


Poetry: Possible Answers to Prayer by Scott Cairns

Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant,
relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value—nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.
Your repentance—all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.
Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.
Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you—         
these must burn away before you’ll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.

Music: Broken Arrow – Let God turn your whole world around in this song by Rod Stewart

Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain
There he goes moving across the water
There he goes turning my whole world around

Do you feel what I feel
Can we make it so that's part of the deal
I gotta hold you in these arms of steel
Lay your heart on the line this time

I want to breathe when you breathe
When you whisper like that hot summer breeze
Count the beads of sweat that cover me
Didn't you show me a sign this time

Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain
There he goes moving across the water
There he goes turning my whole world around, around

Do you feel what I feel
Do you feel what I feel
Ah can you see what I see
Can you cut behind the mystery
I will meet you by the witness tree
Leave the whole world behind

I want to come when you call
I'll get to you if I have to crawl
They can't hold me with these iron walls
We got mountains to climb, to climb

Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain
There he goes moving across the water
There he goes turning my whole world around
Turning my whole world around
Turning my whole world around

Psalm 51: Even now…

February 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we begin the Holy Season of Lent, we pray with Psalm 51. It is an elegiac summons the Lord offers to those who hunger for restoration, for those on hope’s last shore.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
    proclaim a fast,
    call an assembly;
Gather the people,
    notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
    gather the children
    and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
    and the bride her chamber.


Perhaps there is something that dramatic in your life that you will want to bring to God’s Mercy. But for many of us, Lent is a time to stop ignoring the little things in our lives that cripple our full redemption.

Those:

  • unforgiven hurts 
  • unresolved angers
  • petty jealousies
  • unloving criticisms
  • unkindnesses
  • petty cynicisms.

It is a time to face up to our failures to
pray, listen, hope, encourage,
witness, truth-tell, bless.

It is a time to:

  • become poor in spirit
  • mourn our suffering world
  • be meek before the power God’s Word
  • deepen in hunger and thirst for righteousness
  • be merciful
  • be pure of heart
  • be peacemaking
  • befriend persecuted

Lent reminds us that it’s not good enough to be good enough. Lent is about the “whole heart” thing. Is there anything keeping us from it?

Even now, says the LORD,
    return to me with your whole heart,
    with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
    and return to the LORD, your God.



Psalm 51 gives us a time-tested formula for a transformative Lent:

  • acknowledge sinfulness
  • ask forgiveness
  • act on God’s Grace
  • give thanks for God’s mercy

It’s a cycle we should repeat daily, but during Lent it’s time to take it up a notch.


Poetry: Marked by Ashes – Walter Brueggemann

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
     halfway back to committees and memos,
     halfway back to calls and appointments,
     halfway on to next Sunday,
     halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
     half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
   but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
     we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
       of failed hope and broken promises,
       of forgotten children and frightened women,
     we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
     we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
   some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
   anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
   you Easter parade of newness.
   Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
     Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
     Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
   Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
     mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.


Music: Tears at Bedtime – Grundman

Psalm 80: Advent Turns Us Toward God

The First Sunday of Advent
November 29,2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 80, an urgent call to a God from whom the psalmist has turned away.

How do we get to the point that we are turned away from God? And how do we correct that? Well, that’s what Advent is all about, and our psalm today gives us some hints about a remedy.


First: Disconnection 

Sometimes with God, as with any relationship, we simply get disconnected. It’s as if the the phone lines go down and we don’t bother to fix them.

We pray less – well, you know, because we’re busy, right?

We lose the “holy intention” in our lives to always be with God and for God, even in our choices and actions.

Advent helps us remember that such “holy intention” can only be charged by our connection to God. Advent turns us to call that Power into our lives.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.


Second: Confusion 

Other times, we are confused about our soul’s intimate relationship with God. We haven’t forgotten it. Actually, we work very hard to be what we think God wants. We, like a satisfied Pharisee, think our “holiness” is the fruit of our own efforts. But our life in God withers, like a once beautiful plant that languishes, overwatered and scorched. For all our efforts, our souls feel empty.

Advent helps us realize that it is God who enlivens the vine and gives the blossom, not us. Advent turns us to a humble, hopeful waiting for grace as God desires to give it.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.


Third: Withdrawal 

Our psalm recognizes that, at times, we withdraw from God. Perhaps we tire of working at our spiritual life. Or we weary when our works of mercy go unappreciated. Or we fail to find God’s Presence in a prayer that seems unanswered.

Advent helps us see that God is never the one who withdraws from the work of love. We do.

Advent turns us to new life by the simple calling of the Name that never fails to answer.

May your help be with the creature of your right hand,
with the beloved whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

As we begin this Advent journey
that can so deepen us in grace and love,
let us humbly place in God’s hands
anything in our lives that needs “turning”.

Lord, make us turn to you;
let us see your face and we shall be saved.


Poetry: Tagore – THE INFINITY OF YOUR LOVE

Stand before my eyes, 
and let Your glance touch my songs into a flame.

Stand among Your stars, 
and let me find kindled in their lights my own fire of worship.

The earth is waiting at the world’s wayside.
Stand upon the green mantle she has flung upon Your path, 
and let me in her grass and meadow flowers spread my own salutation.

Stand in my lonely evening where my heart watches alone; 
fill her cup of solitude, 
and let me turn my heart toward the infinity of Your love.

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me

Psalm 25: God’s Will?

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 27, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, set perfectly in the midst of a few readings that speak to us about, among other things , “the Father’s Will”.

I think there is no greater spiritual mystery than the meaning of  “God’s Will”, (and not wanting to show up Thomas Aquinas, I’ll resist explaining it here. 😂🧐)

But we’ve all heard attempts at explaining it, haven’t we, especially as it relates to suffering— as in:

  • everything that happens is God’s Will, so we must accept it
  • God wills our suffering to test us
  • if God wills that we suffer, He will give us the strength to endure it

I just don’t think so … not the God I love and Who loves me.

But these attempts to explain suffering are understandable because we want to rationalize the things we fear. Most of us, I think, struggle with the problem of evil and suffering in the world. We want to know what to do when, as Rabbi Kushner wrote, “… Bad Things Happen to Good People”.


Our first reading from Ezekiel shows us that even the ancient peoples met this struggle. The prophet seems to suggest that if you’re bad, you’ll suffer. If you repent, you won’t. Well, we all know that’s not quite the reality! But nice try, Ezekiel.

Our psalm gently leads to another way of facing suffering as the psalmist prays for wisdom, compassion and divine guidance. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus himself prayed like this as he confronted his impending suffering.


In our second reading, Paul places before us the example of Jesus who, in the face of suffering, was transformed by love:

Praying with these readings, each one of us must come to our own peace with the mystery of suffering. What we can be sure of is this: God’s Will is always for our wholeness and joy as so simply taught to us when we were little children:

God made me to know, love, and serve God, 
and to be happy with God in this world and forever.

Our Gospel tells us that such happiness comes through faith and loving service, through responding to “the Father’s Will”.  May we have the insight, the love and the courage!


Poetry: Of Being by Denise Levertov 

I know this happiness
is provisional:

       the looming presences—
       great suffering, great fear—

       withdraw only
       into peripheral vision:

but ineluctable this shimmering
of wind in the blue leaves:

this flood of stillness
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance,
this need to kneel:

       this mystery:

Music: To You, O Lord (Psalm 25) Graham Kendrick

Psalm 145: Always Mercy

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 20, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 145 which, with our Sunday readings, ties together the themes of call and commitment.

In our first reading, Isaiah proclaims a repentant urgency to that call:

Seek the LORD 
while he may be found,
call him 
while he is still near.


In our second reading, Paul confirms his own ultimate commitment to that call and urges his followers to imitate him:

Christ will be magnified in my body,
whether by life or by death….

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel.


But our Gospel reveals that not everyone responds immediately to God’s voice in their lives. Some of us come late to the call of grace. Nevertheless, our generous God seeks us, time and again, and embraces us fully no matter how close to the evening.

The early hires chafe against this system, imagining themselves somehow deprived by the Master’s abundance. Perhaps we heard attitudes like theirs expressed in self-sufficient phrases like:

  • but I’ve worked hard for everything I have
  • you need to earn your way in life
  • it’s not a free ride
  • if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

Walter Brueggemann writes that the Psalms refute such an attitude:

The counter-world of the Psalms
contradicts our closely held world of self-sufficiency
by mediating to us a world confident in God’s preferential option
for those who call on him in their ultimate dependence.


Psalm 145 lifts us beyond our selfish imaginations. It expresses the grateful praise of one who, swaddled in God’s lavish blessing, recognizes that Divine Justice looks like Mercy not calculation.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.


Poem: by Rumi

By the mercy of God,
Paradise has eight doors.
One of those is the door of repentance, child. 
All the others are sometimes open, 
sometimes shut, 
but the door of repentance is never closed. 
Come seize the opportunity: 
the door is open; 
carry your baggage there at once.

Music: I Will Praise Your Name – Marty Haugen, David Haas

Psalm 51: Begin Again

Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

August 20, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 51 in which God promises refreshment to our parched and hardened hearts.


Let’s talk about “parched”. Early in the pandemic, a dear friend gifted us with a vigorous basil plant. A practical culinary addition to our meager garden, it really was so much more. It became a symbol of hope over these pandemic days that can be cloudy in more than meteorological terms!

I have taken good care of the plant. But last week! I got distracted by something., something so important I have forgotten what it was! In my distraction, my little basil became parched.


Our souls become parched too, often because we let ourselves become distracted from their care. Like beautiful plants, our spirits have to be tended daily, nurtured with prayer, silence, gratitude and charity.

Psalm 51 reminds me that God is patient with our “distractions”. God will refresh and renew even the most neglected garden.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.


Our first reading from Ezekiel offers a further encouragement that anything gnarled or hardened in our hearts can be resurrected by God’s Mercy.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts


Poetry: Houseplants in Winter by Eamon Grennan

Their survival seems an open question:
I make a mess of watering, prune
without discretion, grieve over the leaf
whose borders burn and curl. Their
fresh petals a perpetual surprise – 
minute coral hearts, magnesium stars. 

I've lined them up on the table
I work and eat at, facing the small window
that faces almost south, placing myself
under the pale sway of their silence.
They play their deaths and resurrections out
in our cramped common quarters.

I gave the rose-geranium too much water:
its roots grew bog-black, sodden, and
nothing could keep its sweetness
in our lives. The jade, for all its
early promise and parakeet-green shoots,
won't root: it bows its leathery heads. 

The rest seem busy getting by. Removed
to the margins of our noisy mealtimes
when my children visit, they grow used
to the smell of bread frying in goosefat
for breakfast, small talk, the after-
dinner pungency of a peeled tangerine.

The speechless life they lead is Greek
to me: when live flowers rise
out of dead heads, I reckon it's as much,
for the moment, as I need to know.
The light that falls on them
strikes me too, till I feel as rooted

as I'll ever be in this home
from home. Look at us, they seem to say,
flourishing under straitened circumstances:
you see we make do with your handfuls
of earth, your cups of water, these daily
visitations of winter light that cast our
impeccable shadows on your razed page.

Music: Psalm 51 – Shuv Creative
from their website: This worship video sung in Biblical Hebrew directly from the Scriptures is a powerful tool to open the heart for repentance.

Psalm 78: It’s Harsh

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 13, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 78, one of the twelve “Psalms of Asaph”. These psalms have a common theme of God’s judgement relative to Israel’s faithlessness to the Law.

Psalm 78 is the second longest psalm, the whole of which reads a lot like a history lesson. It recounts God’s enduring faithfulness even in the face of Israel’s fickleness.

They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High,
and kept not his decrees.
They turned back and were faithless like their fathers;
they recoiled like a treacherous bow.


The psalm fits well with today’s readings. Poor Ezekiel is commanded by God to act out the impending Assyrian devastation of the kingdom. He has to pack up, dig through a wall, hide his face, and escape into the night — just as Israel will have to do when the conquerors besiege them. All this, because God is passing judgement on Israel’s infidelities and God wants them to recognize it.

They angered him with their high places
and with their idols roused his jealousy.
God heard and was enraged
and utterly rejected Israel.


Psalm 78 remembers this history and retells it for the instruction of the generations. It is a reminiscence not unlike one that we all practice, I think.

Sometimes, especially in prayer or retreat, don’t we look back over our lives to rediscover how God was with us even in difficulty and darkness? Even in our poorest choices and most stupid sins? Aren’t we gratefully surprised that God’s Mercy was the ultimate fruit of such trials? When we face new challenges, don’t we remind ourselves of these things for the sake of our future courage and hope?

That’s what Psalm 78 is doing. Israel messed up, suffered judgement, and was made new in Mercy. The psalmist wants future generations never to forget.


Each of us, both as individuals and within our communities, experience such cycles of sin and redemption. Each turn should make us stronger, grateful, more faithful. Our witness to God’s abiding mercy should be shared for the sake of the generations… our personal Psalm 78 – written not in words, but in the fidelity of our lives.

Psalm 78 is not pretty or easy. Life isn’t always that way either. In our Gospel, Jesus assures us that God is a generous Creator who wants to redeem us in Mercy. But we have to do our part too, or we could wind up like the unfaithful servant – defeated by our own selfish choices.


Poetry: Mercy by David Baker

Small flames afloat in blue duskfall, beneath trees
anonymous and hooded, the solemn trees—by ones
and twos and threes we go down to the water's level edge
with our candles cupped and melted into little pie-tins
to set our newest loss free. Everyone is here.

Everyone is wholly quiet in the river's hush and appropriate dark.
The tenuous fires slip from our palms and seem to settle
in the stilling water, but then float, ever so slowly,
in a loose string like a necklace's pearls spilled,
down the river barely as wide as a dusty road.

No one is singing, and no one leaves—we stand back
beneath the grieving trees on both banks, bowed but watching,
as our tiny boats pass like a long history of moons
reflected, or like notes in an elder's hymn, or like us,
death after death, around the far, awakening bend.

Music:  Mercy – Amanda Cook