To Shout from the Stomach





Let this day’s air praise the Lord—
Rinsed with gold, endless, walking the fields,
Blue and bearing the clouds like censers,
Holding the sun like a single note
Running through all things, a basso profundo
Rousing the birds to an endless chorus.

In joy. For it is he who underlies
The rock from its liquid foundation,
The sharp contraries of the giddy atom,
The unimaginable curve of space,
Time pulling like a patient string,
And gravity, fiercest of natural loves.

At his laughter, splendor riddles the night,
Galaxies swarm from a secret hive,
Mountains split and crawl for aeons
To huddle again, and planets melt
In the last tantrum of a dying star.

Sit straight, let the air ride down your backbone,
Let your lungs unfold like a field of roses,
Your eyes hang the sun and moon between them,
Your hands weigh the sky in even balance,
Your tongue, swiftest of members, release a word
Spoken at conception to the sanctum of genes,
And each breath rise sinuous with praise.

Now, shout from the stomach, hoarse with music,
Give gladness and joy back to the Lord,
Who, sly as a milkweed, takes root in your heart.
~from Robert Siegel’s poetry in Flourish Magazine 2010







Judging from the long lines at grocery store check-out aisles, this is the week of the stomach and feasting.  Feeling over-full after a sumptuous meal on Thursday does nothing to satisfy the ravenous hunger we feel all the rest of the year.

It is, in fact, the heart that must be filled continuously, not the stomach three times a day.  Our stomach may shout and growl, but it is the heart that yearns and mourns for Love lost, Love regained, Love pondered and treasured up.

May He take root in our hearts this week and always as our stomach is silenced by the feast only He can serve.







Between Midnight and Dawn: Thirsting for God


As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
~from Psalm 42


Empty and filled,
like the curling half-light of morning,
in which everything is still possible and so why not.

Filled and empty,
like the curling half-light of evening,
in which everything now is finished and so why not.

A root seeks water.
Tenderness only breaks open the earth.
This morning, out the window,
the deer stood like a blessing, then vanished.
~Jane Hirschfield from “Standing Deer”


Most days, at some point, I start feeling thirsty.

Not for water, which, living in the northwest,  I’m fortunate to have close by at almost any moment.

Not for alcohol, which puts me to sleep and makes me too fuzzy to function after a couple of swallows.

Not for milk which was all I ever drank growing up on a farm with three Guernsey cows that produced more than a family of five could possibly consume in a day.

No, I’m ashamed to admit I thirst for a Starbucks mocha.  With whip.

No, I didn’t give it up for Lent.  I acknowledge it is not truly thirst I am feeling but only a desire. I’m not panting and dehydrated.  This is a want rather than a need.  I will not die without my mocha.

Like any psychological (or physical) addiction, it just feels as if I might.

Instead I should thirst daily for God with the same visceral fervor and singlemindedness.   If I could dive into His word daily and savor it like I do my mocha, I would be much less fluffy in stature, and much more solid in faith.

This psalm reminds me of my constant thirstiness and how no mocha, no glass of water, indeed nothing of this earth will truly slake it.  I must wait to meet the Lord to know what it feels like to no longer thirst and no longer want, and then all needs, indeed all desires, are fulfilled.

“You have made us for Yourself, and we cannot find rest until we find it in You.”  
~St. Augustine





During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn