Shepherd’s Lament

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

My sheepness

sometimes speaks

in my attempts

at good Samaritan-like deeds

and warms my heart

with knowing

I have passed on grace

and am perhaps

a vessel used by God.

My goatliness

is something else.

Omissions can be numbered every day.

Perhaps I see

the whiny and the wimpy

and overlook the need.

Perhaps I turn away annoyed

at one who

seems to want

to bleed me dry.

Perhaps I give

my version of tough love

to those who

need a listening ear.

And yet my goat

consumes my life.

My goat in independence fierce

has no desire

for goatherd to direct its path

or take its milk.

My willful goat

prefers reliance on

resources of its own.

I know not how to give up goathood

and be a sheep of God’s own fold.

I sense division in my soul

and know not means

or cause to form reunion.

Oh God, come separate!

Unite!

Take best of both

and make me whole.

Shepherd’s Lament

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

My sheepness

sometimes speaks

in my attempts

at good Samaritan-like deeds

and warms my heart

with knowing

I have passed on grace

and am perhaps

a vessel used by God.

My goatliness

is something else.

Omissions can be numbered every day.

Perhaps I see

the whiny and the wimpy

and overlook the need.

Perhaps I turn away annoyed

at one who

seems to want

to bleed me dry.

Perhaps I give

my version of tough love

to those who

need a listening ear.

And yet my goat

consumes my life.

My goat in independence fierce

has no desire

for goatherd to direct its path

or take its milk.

My willful goat

prefers reliance on

resources of its own.

I know not how to give up goathood

and be a sheep of God’s own fold.

I sense division in my soul

and know not means

or cause to form reunion.

Oh God, come separate!

Unite!

Take best of both

and make me whole.

Soul Seed

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

How can the seed deep buried

in soul soil

come to be

experienced by him

whose personhood

the husk through which the proof displays?

Must plowmen come

to gash encrusted earth

and dislodge rocks?

Must fertilizer be applied

to supplement the meager means

within the seed to germinate?

Must cultivators come

to loosen ground

to stimulate a movement toward fruition?

Must harvesters come

to gouge the ground

and finding ripened tuber

pull it out?

Is flooding

as in rice production

needed

to swell the secret source?

If we knew how

to help someone

discover

selfhood’s glory

what joyful task we’d undertake.

As it is

we risk ourselves

in prayer.

All The Saints

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

We sing

to all the saints

who from their labors rest

to honor those

who with us form

this priesthood of believers

and pondering their steadfastness

in sorrow and adversity

wonder how our reckoning

might fare

we whose labor

sometimes seems in vain

and other times too little

and often lacking energy

succumb to guilt

inherent in the standard

for what we think life calls from us

they who rest

would free us

from our sense of shame

would for us the load make light

and road make straight

and bid us lean into

the open arms that beckon us

simply to be.

Playground

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

My mind streets wind

no measured architectural plan

designed to make my town

orderly and neat.

Musings like a messy house unkempt

with windows smudged

and chimney soot

and unswept steps

displayed for all to see

.

Public buildings unattended

stucco crumbling

floors unpolished

ceiling fixtures dangling loose

Blighted wasted space

with little probability

of restoration

to a former blueprint state

Suddenly the child runs past

with playthings tightly held

his lively chatter to himself

beckoning my spirit out of entropy

to shed the shackles of despond

Following his voice

through streets of clutter

I find his destination

Ah!

the playground!       

come frolic

with the children

barefoot

uninhibited

who gravitate

to crystal pond

where wetting feet and hands

baptize each others’ heads

pronouncing laughter benediction.

Yes!

come look and listen

for God is here.

Why Have You Sent Us?

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Why have you sent us

to this foreign land?

clothed these fragile organs

            in this too thin flesh

so we wake daily

wondering if they will

keep our life?

given us great fear

of hidden things

and places we have not yet seen?

put strong minds in us

that seek control

only to unsettle our rigidity?

Are we the tourists stranded

in a Canaan desert

with camels not for hire

and oases only a mirage?

What sort of strife-torn

place like this

could make its residents content?

Or was this all planned out

so we would cry at last

“Bring me home!”?

New Light

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

In derision

critics named Monet

and others for

their daring to be

different

painting alfresco

reveling in natural light

Impressionists

and now the name

resplendent

with renown

is never

a pejorative.

And should we too

who gladly took the holy name

and breathe the air

defy the skeptics

daring to display

for all the world to see

the artist’s stamp

revealed as golden light

shining through

our eyes’ new panes of glass?

Predestination

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

How could it be that

all are called

and but a few are chosen?

Are you some sort of

agent for the prosecution

culling through the ones

who

responding to

their jury summons

endure perforce

the machinations

of a tyrant terrorizer

demanding answers

to most private questions

publicly inquired?

How could you call us

children of your soul

and act as if we

are defendants

when jury duty summons

is all that we received?

Is part of you so power proud

that only judgment segregations

satisfy?

Is there not room

for all of us

within the kingdom gates?

If not

I think

I choose to be

unchosen.

Bristling

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

I bristle at commands

life limitations

smothering my won and cherished

liberty.

I ignore laws

or strut around

proclaiming

obeisance to the spirit

over letter.

I wonder at myself who thinks me

quite above the law

yet wants strict punishment

for other disobedients.

Dare I play God

when even he

makes rules

that even he

obeys?

Ecclesia

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Passing on the street

peering down from windows

pausing at a corner

familiar faces without names

a crowd of witnesses

thronging daily

testifying public

to each other

with scarcely uttered speech

community invisible

webbed from filament

routines casually incised

within the human habits

unconsciously repeated

while a smile appears

as mind plays hopscotch

with random minute thoughts

and though a stranger

conspicuously marked

by practiced eye

the vision of ecclesia

never resonates

behind the blinking lids.

The Holiness of Life

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The holiness of life

demands attendance

to a water purifying

for the outer

and a dietary purging

for the inner

cleansing

to make straight

the way through

wilderness and wasteland

on swift burning feet

while tears

seem helpless to relieve

the agony of white hot heat

eventually which sears

the soiled soul covering

revealing sacro-sanctuary.

A Cup Of Water

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

A cup of water is

mirage to one who

desert sweltering

wonders if his thirst

will lead to death

or will be quenched

by what he knows

will mean his life.

And we who run

our faucets heedlessly

to water needlessly

a prestige lawn

do we consider how

daily it must be

to thirst for what

the rains give down

in purest form

to all the earth?

to quite imagine

how we might provide

for him who suffers

body drought?

and further

how provide

the wellspring

to quench the thirst

of dry parched souls?

Ceremony

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

In white smocked dress

with entre deux and reembroidered

lace on cuffs and hem

and heirloom petticoat beneath

made of great-great-granddame’s

wedding gown

and fresh new bonnet

fashioned in the latest neo-classic

hand sewn French couture design

by the young mother

having bought the sewing lessons

just for the occasion

without a thought to

knowing that the ritual required

the bare head of the child.

As streamers fell away

and cap removed

by him whose hand dipped in the font

epiphany tears blurred vision

in the mother’s eyes.

The infant passed from one to one

and blinking under water

dripping in its eyes

will have no recollection of this day

but secretly she vowed that

if cataract comes crashing

she will tell the story

of the special sprinkling

that was precursor

of a later time

when womb waters break

to midwife life anew.

When Were We Blessed?

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

When were we blessed?

we ask the ones who

now and then remind us

to be blessing as we

walk among the multitudes

who need a sacred gift.

When were we blessed?

we ask again in order

to be certain of the time and day

to mark it down to be

remembered in a book.

When were we blessed?

we ask because we are not sure

that we can say with certainty

a blessing has become

so intertwined with who we are

that holy we experience ourselves.

When were we blessed?

we ask with ripening hope

that blessing fresh and warm

might be bestowed in

tokened reminiscence

of a once forgotten one.

When were you blessed?

asks the One to whom all blessing

owes its origin.

I blessed you in

the blessing of the world

as good.

I blessed you in

the ancient ones

who multiplied the

sperm seed placed in them.

I blessed you as

I gave the essence

of myself that you might be.

Now kneel and be reformed

in warm wet clay

and feel my hot breath

on and in you

then go to lay

my hand

on those who feel unblessed.

Be my blessing.

Dancing into Light

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Dancing into light

she could not understand

why others silent stood

in shadows at the fringe.

Asking some to join her

they shook their heads’ reply

and she

contented not

presented query one on one.

They had no life they said

No life fulfilled enough to

spill into a rhythm moved to music

No life to know a joy that

could not be contained

within their flesh and frame

No life to fling wide portals

of their personality

and shun that shame

that inhibitions shape

No life that knows such

verve and drive

that energy must burst forth

in explosion

if not channeled

in some festive rite

No life to feel a spirit

they themselves

could not create

if ever there could be

Almost no life

to even wish

for what had not

by them allowed

the possibility

of shopping for some

dancing shoes.

King

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Riding as a king

triumphal in my victory

o’er all I call

the enemies who thwart

my willful nature’s best intention

triumphal such that

others see my good resolve

and cheer me on

to greater goals of goodness

my mind has undertaken.

I hear the cheer—“Hurray for you!”

as friends and kinfolk recognize

assistance they have given

and cheering for themselves as well

participate in “Job well done!”

And we all name ourselves

good and faithful servants.

The greening branches move

as green confetti showers down

and all experience

the kingdom of righteous tasks complete.

Little do we sense

that we must be

betrayed by some Iscariot

the one most close

the one whose presence

seems to be the primal motivation

spurring us to holy tasks

that one within we know as friend

is friend indeed and

of him say ‘the blessed one

who comes from God’

for who can bless us more

who orchestrates

the death of good

to empty and then sanctify?

Seeking

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

I seek wheat within myself

among the heaping piles of chaff

I seek righteousness

amidst my bounding wantonness

I seek self-trust

beneath my inability to be

true to anyone including Thee

I seek goodness in my heart

even in the selfish evidence I’ve found

I seek ability to praise

displace my envy and my pride

I seek justice

in place of all the power

I hold so dear and can’t release

I seek solace

from the grinding guilt

that wears away all images

of wholeness in my soul.

Where have I heard

that seekers find?

Or is the seeking

as some say of journey

all there is

and I need entertain no more

an image of discovery

of something wonderful

at end of search?

My heart tells me “no!”

Buddha Teachings

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The Buddha teaches

wisdom to be found

in nothingness–a space

within that moves

into the world beyond the cave

and back again to feed itself

from inner calm

so that detachment from

the trappings traipsing round us

denies imprisonment to things

and liberates the soul

to glide and swim

through multiple experiences

without the need to own

or justify the lack

of action or production

but unencumbered flies

through space and time

constant consorts

abundancing its life.

Would that monotheists all

might free the soul

from dogma

and the need to do.

Invitation

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Gathered at the riverside

  we question

    mandatory participation

      in penance preparation

         as a voice tells us to turn

and face the dry and lifeless land.

With no ranting

  on the wrath of God

    we hear reiteration

      of continued invitation

        and silently assent

to a journey to the new unknown.

Then we turn slow

  to see the water surface

    undulating ever slightly

      and sense a beckoning

        by unseen finger

to respond.

Water wading moves

  from shallows to the deeps

      and though we have

        no swimming skills

the transport to the womb occurs

  as if we had stood still.

Desert Places

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

There are those who choose

to visit desert places

who revel in the solitude as

seeking for some unpredicted beauty

find blossoms there

and color

and enchantment in the arid wastes.

But we avoid the barren lands

needing

so we think

oases of variety

and fecund warmth of kindred souls.

We have seen the wilderness

and heard the mournful howl of brazen beasts

whose names unspoken

strike a paralyzing fear.

And we have been alone

in deserts desolate of all

except the gritty sand

that wears our feet

and lodges long within our mouths

that stings our tears

that burns our skin

and sings the solemn unpitched note

that seeks to deafen us.

We know a wilderness

where nothing blooms

where sorrow’s sobs can sprinkle nought to life.

Is there a hand to give us hope?

Is there a voice to tell us this will pass?

Truth

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Is there truth so palpable that

once known

effects a freedom heretofore

unknown

unknowable

and further

unimagined?

So what

and where

and why

is truth?

Is there an entity

as powerful

as Holy Writ describes?

What motivates

gigantic games of searching

all possiblities

for ambrosia for the mind?

Great minds and small

have followed

rocky

tangled

paths of question

often coming round

to the beginning place

with question asking multiplied

and still no closer closure comes.

Might our preoccupation

with this noun

if substantive it is

be labeled imbecile attempts

at rank omnipotence

because we

after all

seek ranking with the gods?

Is this a foreordained

conundrum

maddening maze

of constant fruitless questing?

Or is there somewhere

a reality that

we were born to know?

To know in such a way

that moving us

to joy abundant

truth becomes a verb?

Memory

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

A strange phenomenon

memory

that without which life

would not be worth

the trouble to sustain

say some.

Puzzling

how together

some can witness

an event

retaining bits and pieces

perceptions and reflections

so different in recall.

The remembering almost makes

an individual

as multi-faceted as all

whose lives with that one intersected

and each left wondering

how recollection

so differing came to be.

Perhaps the psyche soul

unique to each

magnetically attracts

the details mandatory

for spirit evolution

beatifying each and all.

Character

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Dim foreshadowings afford us

early glimpses of what later

might be called good character

the strength of which was hewn

from hard fine granite

chipped away in slow

painstaken labor

certainly

not self- designed

nor requested

nor desired.

No

this surgeon artist scalpel

reconfiguring as prisoner

one who would if breaking

chains invisible were possible

bolt and leave a fiery trail

as hastily escaping such ordeal.

How daring the Designer

who mined the blocks

then saw unique form buried there

waiting to be born

and as the Master Sculptor

took full advantage of

his expertise without

apprentices employed

but in his own worn practiced hands

the ancient tools

began their sacred work.

Stigmata

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

I listen with my ear

my mind

my heart.

I strain to hear

I know not what

but something from beyond

the dailyness of dull routine

where unpredictability

no audience desires

The catechesis memorized

as well as hymns and creeds

parade despite my plaintive plea.

I meditate on verb and phrase

and hope for some

resounding redolent reconfirmation

of oral apparition rare

enough to scar my brain

or stigmatize my hands and feet

to prove whatever words

some holy voice might tell me.

Perhaps if I but see or hear

or have imprinted as tattoo

a sacredness no need to prove

I would not need the sermonette

“be doers…”

 for the doing

would already be.

Who Heard God Say?

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Who heard God say

“let us make man”?

Can we be sure

that “in our image”

was not addendum

for enjoyment of

imagination of an ego

eager for some status

in the face of fearful

existential angst?

Who learned of angels

and the guarantee that

we can almost match

them in God’s hierarchy?

Is this a fable poised

like all such stories

to smudge  

the universal question marks

and make us rank ourselves

more highly than we ought?

Or set a standard of perfection

dangling always right above our reach?

There must be some fast truth

imbedded in the tale told throughout

the rounds of galaxies

and baby weaning days.

There must be more than make-believe

to stir the heart’s awakening

to a melody mysteriously

making sure we don’t

forget the humming tune

and lyrics long repeating

“fearfully…wonderfully.”