Poetry

Poet in Residence: Peggy Eastman

All poems listed in this page, copyright © by Peggy Eastman

Lenten Prayer
An End to Fear
An End to Otherness
Ashes to Ashes
Called and Empowered
Claiming the Light
Confirmation Promises
Days of Autumn Gold
Everyday Holiness
God’s Washday
Good News for God’s children
Holy Binding
Just You and Me, Lord
Keeping Summer in Our Hearts
Little Fox Paws
Lord of the Empty Tomb
Lord of Washed Feet
New Green
Old Soul Rhythms
Palm Sunday Spectacle
Prayer for Acceptance of Change
Prayer for Redemptive Love
Restoring Sabbath
Safe Harbor
Saved by Perfect Love
Seeking Home Port
St. Patrick Voice of the Irish
Summertime Respite
Thanksgiving for Earthly Blessings
The Power of Forgiveness
The Waters Are Rising
Three In One
Tiller of Souls
To Hold This Leaf
Wayward But Willing
Welcome to God
Where Shall We Turn
Yearning for Easter Cleansing


Lenten Prayer

Lord, help us to live lightly on the land.
It is not ours, we know; it is only on generous
loan from You. Help us to treasure the
sacredness of all creation, guiding our feet
so they caress the earth, rather than tromping
heavily, for under our footfalls is living,
breathing soil. Help us to care for all Your
creatures of fur, feathers, fins and scales,
remembering always that this is their home, too.
Lord, help us to live lightly on the land.
Help us to use Your resources sparingly,
mindful always that others need pure water
to drink, grain for bread to eat and smog-free
air to breathe. Help us to honor daily simplicity,
discarding with gladness all those gratuitous
encumbrances that distract us from You.
Help us to recognize and shun every single
seductive artifice and artificiality.
Lord, help us to live lightly on the land.
Please keep our hands from grabbing
what should be shared, not hoarded.
Help us to know when having enough
is enough, so we may ever distinguish
coveting from needing. Most of all,
keep us reverent, Lord; sustain in us
a sense of awe that we can live in so
glorious a dwelling place until
we come at last to dwell in You.
Lord, help us to live lightly on the land.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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An End to Fear

This poem was inspired by Fr. Ed Kelaher’s
recent sermon on a passage from Isaiah (43:1-7)
and the message of conquering fear
because we’re under God’s protection.

Lord, we are beset by perils
in this life east of Eden;
You know it is a hard task to
live here without fear; it is primal.
Are there not shooters at the schools?
Are there not floodwaters at the doors?
Are there not bombers at the towers?
Are there not mudslides in the canyons?
Are there not fires in the forests?
We tremble in the darkness; do not
hooded thieves go about by night?
We find ourselves living clenched.
Our limbs fail us when we want to flee;
our hearts quiver and lose their courage.
You, Lord, know our fears; You know
we only fear when we are unarmed.
Arm us now, we pray, with the shield
of Your protective love. What harms
can prevail if Your shield goes before us?
Lord, please strengthen our limbs
so we can stand straight and firm.
Help us to live unclenched, and fill
our hearts so full of faith in You
that there is no room left for fear.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2013

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An End to Otherness

You are a child of God; so am I.
Has not St. Paul, formerly that
flashing-eyed firebrand persecutor Saul,
told us plainly how we are to live?
As “neither Jew nor Greek,
slave nor free, male nor female.”
If indeed we are all one in Christ Jesus,
why do some among us constantly
stress our otherness? Were we not
all created in God’s image, whether
black or white or some shade in between,
whether blond, auburn or dark-haired,
whether green, blue or brown-eyed,
whether clothed in loincloth, silk or sealskin?
Lord, please help us to celebrate our unity,
not harp fruitlessly on our otherness.
What divides can destroy; history teaches
that lesson over and over. Borders and
boundaries block and bind. How boldly You
cast rules of otherness aside, welcoming
sinners to Your table and touching the
sick, deformed and demon-possessed
with compassionate, healing hands. None
were contaminated in Your sight; none
were beyond healing; none were beyond
redemption. Lord, please teach us to tear down
all the barriers of otherness we erect: ones we see
and the unseen ones that guard our hearts.
Then, secure in Your love for us all,
we can truly live as one family in You.

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Ashes to Ashes

Burdened by our mortality,
we Your unworthy creatures
kneel before You, Lord, offering up
our unruly hearts. Far from constant
are they in love of You, much as
we would wish them to be. But we
have nothing else to offer.
Ashes to ashes.
Mark us, Lord, and let this ashen cross
be a sign of all You would burn out
of us, all that mars, sullies and stains.
What is ash but fire’s grave?
How our transgressions have grieved You
we know too well; consign them to
the grave, Lord, we pray.
Ashes to ashes.
Like frail reeds that sway with
every wayward wind, we have not
stood firmly before You; we beg Your
gracious clemency. We have not been
good and faithful servants; we have
neglected Your vineyard and its vines
are sickly and deformed. Help us hold
to Your will and ever do what
will be pleasing in Your sight.
Ashes to ashes.
Let all who see these ashes bear witness
to our deep desire for pardon long after
the ashen mark has left our faces. Let us
remember how we knelt in penitence
before You, longing to begin the inward
labor of prayer and denial of self
that would draw us closer to You.
Let us remember how we shouldered
the burden of our mortality anew,
seeking courage to live as people
wholly secure in Your succor.
Ashes to ashes, grave to new life.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2013

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Called and Empowered

Lord, can it really be that I am part of Your divine plan?
I am no stalwart Moses, leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. No power-rod have I, that serpent changeling held firmly in Moses’ grasp.
And yet…
Did not Moses himself protest and demur? Did he not draw back and insist, “I am not eloquent?” But the Lord equipped reluctant Moses, and Moses, thus strengthened, bent his will

to God’s.
When Your call comes, it also empowers.
Lord, I am no flame-tongued Jeremiah, burning the ears of Your chosen people with righteous
recriminations.
And yet …
Did not Jeremiah himself tremble and shrink before Your charge? Did he not cry, “Ah, Lord God! Behold I cannot speak: for I am a child”?
But the Lord strengthened Jeremiah and put his own words in the prophet’s mouth, and Jeremiah delivered the judgment of God in a strong, clear voice.
When Your call comes, it also empowers.
Lord, can it really be that I am part of Your divine plan?
Yes, for You knew me when I was in my mother’s
womb, and You marked me for Your own.
Lord, You empowered Moses and Jeremiah,
and I know that You will also empower me
to carry out Your call, wherever it may take me.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Claiming the Light

Lord, You have chosen us for Your very own.
You, whose birth announcement was the
brightest star that ever shone, always desire
that radiance for us, Your beloved children.
Please, Lord, help us to claim the light.
Light is life, we know from Deuteronomy;
therefore we choose light. We are a light
to the world, we know from Your apostle
Matthew; therefore we long to shine our light
into the darkest crevices of this hurting world.
We desire only to be lit candles of Your love.
Please, Lord, help us to claim the light.
Though we long for the light, You know well
that sometimes we do not feel like Your beloved;
shadows lengthen under our feet and the darkness
of a perilous world threatens to entrap us. Even so,
Lord, envelop us with the gift of Your radiance
so it may keep our candle-flames brightly lit
and chase the encroaching darkness away.
Help us to emulate the wondering shepherds
who drew near Your manger-crib, faces lit
with joy at the quiet miracle of Your birth.
Please, Lord, help us to claim the light.
Into our world send others who seek the light,
we pray, and bless us with time in holy places
where we can sense the presence of the sacred.
Please, Lord, help us to claim the light in this
blessed season of light, so that we may know
the joy of being Your beloved all our lives.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Confirmation Promises

With hearts prepared and minds resolved,
we come before You, Lord, to pledge our
lives to You. There is one body and one Spirit,
and our hope rests in binding ourselves to You.
Today we make our lifelong promises in Your name.
In all humility we ask to be received into the
communion of all the faithful, that long unsundered
chain of believers stretching back century upon century.
To those who preceded us we pay homage,
praising them for their example of devotion.
Today we make our lifelong promises in Your name.
Lord, we come before You with prepared hearts
and resolved minds, but You know well how we
are prone to stray from Your appointed path.
Are we not sometimes like hapless sheep
who wander from their shepherd?
It is through Your grace alone that we
will keep the promises we make today.
Strengthen us, we humbly pray, and send
Your Holy Spirit to sustain us when our hearts
are fearful, our minds lack fortitude
and our footsteps falter.
Today we make our lifelong promises in Your name.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Days of Autumn Gold

This is the soft season, protracted,
the time of half-denuded pin oak branches
reaching toward a washed blue sky
with feathered yellow leaves clingy and quivering,
as if they know they soon must fall.
But now sky caresses leaves; leaves caress sky.
These golden leaves can cling yet awhile.
Thank You, Lord, for days of autumn gold.
Early autumn sun is strong still on bare skin
in a sheltered spot where we rest on heated earth,
shedding jackets and rolling up khakis. Grass blades
warm the spaces between our toes; for we have flung
off socks and shoes. What magic there is in watching
antic sunbeams playing hopscotch on golden
leaves we are now discovering. Early autumn sun
is strong still on our faces, bare arms and toes.
Thank You, Lord, for days of autumn gold.
Sheep-like, a herd of small white puffs
drifts across the sky, a harbinger of sharper weather
yet to come. But we know this is no snow sky;
these sprightly little puffs are no kin to swollen
December clouds laden with sleety cargo that chills
with a thousand tiny stings. Early autumn sun
is strong still on earth that has yet to feel first frost.
Thank You, Lord, for days of autumn gold.
There will be time for pumpkin carving and
cider sipping and gathering windfall apples. No need
yet to think of where we stowed the snow shovel
and where we shoved the boots and what we did
with stocking caps, scarves and woolen mittens. Like
frolicking children, we long to make this season last.
Thank You, Lord, for days of autumn gold.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Everyday Holiness

Where does holiness dwell?
Is it kept behind the communion rail?
Is it locked in the Bible, or in a
book on lives of the saints? Is it
confined to hymns or sermons?
Holiness cannot be thus contained;
we see it every day.
A teenaged boy with dreadlocks
takes the arm of an elderly woman
with unsteady steps to help her
cross a jammed intersection. In a
convenience store, the young clerk
smiles and says, “Take your time,”
while a street dweller fumbles for
coins with smudged and careworn hands.
In a suburban hospital a newborn cries and
then snuggles against his mother’s skin; in that
same hospital on another floor a nurse
gently cleanses the fragile skin of a man
with cancer, pneumonia and tubes.
On a beach with rolling breakers,
a chocolate Labrador puppy chases
a ball thrown by a chortling toddler.
In a forest the tops of long-needled pines
sway in gusts from a southwesterly direction
as they try to reach wind-surfing clouds.
On a country clothesline in noonday sunshine,
clean white sheets play flapping tag as they dry.
In a city soup kitchen, an oversized kettle of lentil,
hambone, onion and carrot soup simmers for hours,
its aroma issuing an open invitation to
all those who hunger in body and soul.
Where does holiness dwell? We see its face
everyday, and what we see is love.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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God’s Washday

Newly washed, a pristine morning greets us,
hung out to dry before our widened eyes.
See how the sun bursts through that shining bush;
see how the light defines that rambling branch;
clustered seedpods, reddened berries glitter.
Note well a twining tendril trembling from its soak;
observe how every petal, blade and needle gleams,
emerging from shifting shadows to glint and glisten
as if to celebrate a newly acquired gloss.
Watch a clear drop clinging to that one serrated leaf;
undecided, the drop elongates and sways before it…falls.
Look up, way up, to view some lingering fluff:
remnants of soapsuds scooting across a cerulean sky.
Lord God, wash us too, we beg;
make every day Your washday,
and rinse us clean.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Good News for God’s children

Lord God, You have called us to be Your beloved children.
You have taught us that in Your gentle, constant embrace we are
never unloved. Is that always true? Never, ever unloved?
God responds: Never, ever. You are always My beloved.
But Lord, sometimes we don’t love ourselves. We fall
far short of what we long to be in Your service. You gave
us the law and we broke it. The best among us have fallen into sin.
God responds: When you sin, My grace abounds all the more.
But, Lord, why did You give us the law if we can’t keep it?
We feel inadequate, failures in need of spiritual scouring.
God responds: Don’t you know, beloved, that I gave you
the law to show you how much you need the Gospel?
But, Lord, we are wholly unworthy of Your gift of salvation;
we do not deserve Jesus’ sacrifice. Doesn’t that matter?
God responds: It doesn’t matter, beloved; what matters is
that I will always, always cherish you and claim you as Mine.
We really want to please You, and we try to earn Your love,
Lord; we need to try harder, work more, be better Christians.
God responds: Don’t you know, beloved, that you cannot
earn My love? I give it to you as a free gift. Just claim it.
But Lord, we want to do better, and so often we fail.
What we try to do fizzles or backfires. A broken relationship
cannot be mended; our tools of communication rust out. Our
earnest prayers for healing are of no avail and our loved
one worsens. A job conflict escalates toward a simmering
crisis that is bound to erupt. Why does it all seem so out of control?
God responds: You cannot control what happens, beloved;
please turn that control over to Me and trust Me.
But Lord, sometimes we do the unforgivable. We did not
mean to, but it happened. We commit arrow-sharp, cutting words
or actions. The damage has been done. There is no retrieval,
no repair. How can You love us when we do something so sinful?
God responds: I will always, always, forgive and love you.
Nothing you could ever do is beyond My forgiveness.
Not even Calvary.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2016

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Holy Binding

Diminutive gowns and suits of white,
tissued safely in storage by generational hands.
Gowns and suits of white cared for by mothers
whose infants wore them, grew, and whose own
babies wore them. The newborns do not know
this, but some of these tiny waving hands may
one day tissue-store their baptismal garb away
for those who follow. We who gather know it.
We who gather here to witness this solemn binding
know something else: we play no passive part today.
Will these white-clad newborns really renounce all that
threatens to separate them from the love of Christ?
They will, with our help.
Will they really put their whole trust in His grace?
They will, with our help.
Just as these infants are bound to Christ, so we
are bound to them in Him. They will know snares,
they will know trials. Paths to temptation will
open before them. We would prevent these ills
and evils if we could, but we cannot return to
the sanctuary of that first garden; nor can they.
We pray for you, small sons and daughters of Eve,
that as you grow you may learn to love and serve
others in the power of the sustaining Spirit.
Let this holy oil seal you in our community
of believers. Oil of royal priesthood,
oil of royal servanthood. Let this holy water
mark you as Christ’s own forever. Water of life,
water of resurrection. We welcome you,
little children of God; may He ever
guide you with His fatherly care.
Will we who this day witness your
holy binding always help you to
seek and serve Christ in all peoples?
We will, with God’s help.
Will we who this day stand as one body
always help you to strive for justice and peace?
We will, with God’s help.
Most of all, little white-clad ones, with God’s help
we will always hold out our hands to you in love.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Just You and Me, Lord

After all the parties (too many people talking
too loudly about things we can’t remember);
after all the meetings (too many flow charts, Powerpoints, waving hands and cooling cups of coffee);
after all the tax forms, unpaid bills and 10-page
forms with boxes to fill in;

it’s just You and me, Lord.

After all the dances and the jazz and the
razzmatazz; after the bright baubles for fingers,
arms and ears;
after the new cars with that just-hatched assembly line scent;
after the butterscotch ice cream and the pecan pie
and the Godiva chocolates and the aged Scotch;

it’s just You and me, Lord.

After the New Year’s Eve dinners and midnight kisses;
after the lit skies ending Fourth of July barbecues;
after the much hyped television series and
Hollywood’s noir dramas and big-screen fireworks;

it’s just You and me, Lord.

After all the weddings and the baptisms and the birthdays and the funerals and the anniversaries
and the long goodbyes;
after all the dark nights of searching;
after all the unwanted hospital stays and the
melamine trays and the bottles of pills;

it’s just You and me, Lord.

While I am earth-bound, stay with me
and be my everything, I pray;
for if I have You, I need nothing else.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Keeping Summer in Our Hearts

How reluctantly we say farewell to summer,
clinging wistfully to that last hour
of that last day. We will regret not visiting
the deep rock pool washed by waves
at high tide; at low tide, its water is so still
and crystalline sea urchins and jewel-toned
snails can be seen at the very bottom.
Remove the snails and their vibrant orange
and yellow hues fade in air and lose their
sea shine. This is their home. They remain here;
we do not. This is a world of rocky shores
and jetties and wide sandy stretches and shells
and starfish and sandals and sailboats with
white wind-filled wings. This is a world
of sometime summer people; we alight
like butterflies seeking nectar for our
joy-starved souls. When our fleeting time here
is over, we will pack up our swimsuits,
shorts and sandals, turn in the rental key
and flit away to other lives, other duties,
other clothes and shoes for city sidewalks.
Lord, the contrast is too abrupt;
the curtain comes down too quickly.
We long for our summer place when
we leave it. Not everyone can afford to take
a vacation; we are suitably, truly grateful.
And yet…how loathe we are to let it go,
like children called in too soon for homework.
Lord, can You help us keep summer in our hearts?
When we are clad in suits and sweaters and boxed in
by winter offices and winter obligations,
won’t You help us retrieve the enchantment
of our summer place, if only for a few stolen
moments? We ask this not for ourselves alone,
but out of our love for You. For we are beginning
to perceive what You have always known:
when our souls are refreshed, we are
far stronger servants in Your service.

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Little Fox Paws

How gracefully this little red fox lopes across
my backyard. How regally she stretches
her supple body up and places her front paws
on the edge of my birdbath. How delicately she
dips her pointed ears and takes a drink. So quietly
does she lap that no sound reaches my bedroom
window, where I watch her enthralled. Can this
morning godly glimpse really be meant for me?
Lord, You know I did not put this birdbath here
for foxes. They’re a rarity in a neighborhood
more used to domestic dogs and cats. This fox
is no one’s pet; she belongs only to herself.
This fox will never be leashed, never be brushed
by human hand. Yes, this birdbath was meant for
sprightly winged visitors who alight, dip their beaks,
fluff their feathers and take flight, not for the
likes of foxes. And yet, Lord, how can I deny
one of Your thirsty creatures a drink, whether
feathered or furred? In that burst of creation we know
as Genesis, did You not command the earth to
put forth “living souls according to their kinds,
domestic animal and wild beast of the earth
according to its kind?” Did You not give us
charge of every living creature that is moving
on the face of the earth? Did You not give us
the example of Your saint, Francis of Assisi,
who loved all Your creatures extravagantly?
Who am I to decree that birds should have
water from my hand while foxes should not?
Lord, I will replenish the water in this birdbath
so the little fox can come to drink her fill
another day. I thank You for the quiet gift
of this graced morning moment with her.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2016

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Lord of the Empty Tomb

On our own flagging merits, Lord, we
could never stand. None of our makeshift
props could hold us upright. Only the promise
of Your empty tomb allows us to stand before
God. When the great stone was rolled away,
dawn light-shafts stole in to reveal the crumpled
burial clothes tossed aside when You no longer
needed them. Where you had lain in Your linen
shroud, two white-garbed angels lingered, as if
in wondrous witness. The tight shroud could not
hold You; the sealed tomb could not contain You.
We now place You, Lord of the empty tomb,
between our God and our sins. On this new
Easter day, we straighten our spines, lift up
our eyes and stand tall, in the certain hope
that Your resurrection promise will bring us
light and life abundant. We need no other
props but You, no other grace but Yours.
For You are Lord of the empty tomb.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Lord of Washed Feet

Lord Jesus, with what gentle hands
You washed Your disciples’ weary feet,
letting the caked grime of all those
wayfaring miles run off in gray-brown rivulets.
With what tenderness You dried those
callused feet, feet that had faithfully
followed You from lake shore to village
to hillside in battered sandals. Once again Peter,
Your rock, was slow to comprehend. Still he
could not accept your servanthood, and so shrank
back, aghast at the thought of this perceived role
reversal. He would not have You wash his soiled feet.
Once again, You set him on Your Christ-path:
“If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.”
Ah, what a hard lesson awaited Peter, Your rock,
as You hung on Your cross of shame,
as You hung on Your cross of glory.
Help us, Lord, to accept Your servant kingship,
as You did for Peter. Be with us, Lord, as we
wash each other’s feet. Lord Jesus, help us always
to be loving servants, one to another.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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New Green

Delicate as a fledgling’s feathers are
the new green leaves of this new spring.
Only partially unfurled, these new
leaves of green dot the sky with all
the controlled abandon of a pointillist’s
brush. Tiny star-like maple leaves share
this newly washed pale blue space with
little green tulip-poplar umbrellas.
Sprouting on long stems that were but
dry, brittle sticks in January (looking like
nothing so much as the legs of wading birds),
the hydrangeas’ new green leaflets are
preparing for showy puff-blooms of
azure and deepest pink. Thorny rose stalks
welcome diminutive green harbingers of
their petaled crimson prizes yet to come.
All, all this new green responds to a
stronger sun and a breeze that has traded
its chill for a caress. Let us pause awhile
on this wooden bench and savor the new
green of this new season. Its invitation is
meant to be irresistible; its arrival is heralded
by harmonious trills and whistles and
the clicks of little claws on tree bark.
For we are not the only ones welcoming
this new green: all of the natural world
is waking up, stretching, unfurling, warbling,
clucking, scampering, swimming, slithering,
buzzing, flying, mating, nesting and once more
celebrating the renewed miracle of being alive.
Thank You, Lord, for once again giving us
the gift of Your new green.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2013

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Old Soul Rhythms

(Written in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day on January 16th)

It’s the old soul rhythms that throb most times,
from those departed this life in strife.
They send up sighs like spirituals
that set the upper branches of the sycamores
to swaying like mourners at a funeral.
The sighs surge and swell like tidal seas,
rushing up shushing shores, and sometimes
we can catch their meaning…in a phrase or three…
Lord, let my people go…Set my people free…
Lord, let my people go.
It’s the old-soul rhythms that throb most times,
rising up from this grave-laden land or that, from
Savannah to Sahara, wherever the elders remember
the slap of the back of a hand
the thwack of the butt of a rifle
the cut of the point of a sword
women’s black-shawled backs
bending over long-limbed bodies
lying akimbo in boot-trampled dust.
It’s the old soul rhythms that throb most times,
keening, moaning, weeping, sighing.
Lord of mercy, You always hear the cries
of the oppressed, You hear and weep, too,
sending warm, gentle rain down
to wash broken bodies with Your tears.
Help us, we pray, to end the divisions
and clashes that still separate us from each other.
How we long to be one people, Your people.
Please, Lord, teach us how to lay down our swords
and live in peace, lion with lamb, warrior with
monk. It is only with Your loving guidance that
we will end the lethal discord of our times.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2017

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Palm Sunday Spectacle

How brittle they were underfoot, those
palm branches. How hollow they sounded,
those hosannas, how bogus those voices crying
“Blessed is our king of the line of David,
who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Assuredly it was a triumphal entry of sorts,
riding into Jerusalem amidst reaching hands,
waving fronds and cheering voices.
Except that the triumph was not to be
the one the crowd so boisterously desired.
A clue should have been the rider’s steed.
Would King David have ridden on the back
of a donkey? Tossing his glossy mane,
David’s mount would have arched his neck,
reared and pawed the ground with agile hooves
used to pivoting and sidestepping enemies.
Surely the temple cleansing was another clue.
Hardly designed to keep the peace or win
the popular vote, the shock of it sent coins
clinking and scattering, overturned stools
thudding and clattering, caused doves to startle
with whooshing wings and saw money changers
scrambling on hands and knees, shouting curses.
How quickly those hosannas turned to jeers
and shouts of “Crucify him!”when Pilate later
asked the multitude its wishes. This imposter
must be purged, so discordant was He with
their expectations for King David’s heir.
Trampled under their stamping feet,
drowned in their cries for blood was
that ancient, prescient Isaiah prophecy:
the Messiah was to be a man of sorrows,
a suffering servant, an afflicted savior.
After the spectacle of palms, the crowd scattered.
In the streets of Jerusalem a few discarded palms
scuttled before the wind like many-legged creatures,
and in their dry murmuring was a kind of refrain:
“Son of God, Son of God, Son of God.”
Only the street sweeper heard it, but he understood.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2013

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Prayer for Acceptance of Change

Lord, we know well that all life is
in flux. Will not this green springy
lawn we tread on today soon wither
and turn to sparse, anemic blades?
Will not the bright sunflowers
whose petal-haloed heads seek the sky
soon droop like stricken sentinels
on shriveled stalks? We know
these lessons, and yet we resist.
What of the faces we see no more,
those once we saw almost weekly
in the same church pew? We miss them;
we would wish them back. We know
this is impossible, and yet we resist.
How we linger over what is gone;
how we long for the comfortable
and familiar, settling into them
as we would into an old stuffed
chair that remembers our contours.
How we resist the new and unknown,
fearing them as we would the turn
of a corner on a zigzag street in a
foreign city scented with wood smoke
and cinnamon. Lord, You were ever
on the move; you knew how not to linger.
Help us learn how not to cling to
what cannot be regained or restored
in this life. Help us be open to new faces,
new voices and the new people sitting in
that particular pew where once sat those
we see no more. For all of it, every blade
of grass, every petal from every sunflower,
every face we ever loved, is joined in You.
Why ever should we fear change when
our one true constant is You?
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2011

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Prayer for Redemptive Love

How often we have stumbled You know,
Lord; we long ago lost count.
It grieves us to ponder our personal
litanies of missed opportunities and
graceless acts of selfishness.
Lord, please blot out our failings
with Your redemptive love.
Our hearts have not been wholly Yours;
they have been mere halfway offerings.
We have not done all we could to
clothe the naked, feed the hungry
and house the homeless. We have
fallen short in charitable giving
and too often let the collection plate
pass by without doing our part.
We have acquired more and given
away less. We are ashamed to have
unused clothes hanging in our closets
and unworn pairs of shoes we no longer
slip onto our feet. Could not these clothes
and shoes be used by those in want?
Lord, please blot out our failings
with Your redemptive love.
Sadly we turn aside from our full larders;
we know it is wrong to have so much
stored when so many have so little
and know the gnaw of constant hunger.
We feel the prick of conscience; our sleep
is troubled. We cannot be at ease while
so many of Your flock struggle simply
to survive. We earnestly desire to be better
and do better; we humbly pray for Your help.
Lord, please blot out our failings
with Your redemptive love and mold us
into the people You would have us be.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2013

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Restoring Sabbath

Lord, whatever happened to Your Sabbath?
Is not this the day You appointed
a day of rest? So much work had You
accomplished in just six days: creating
the firmament and the day and night sky:
labor to last for all eternity. Out of the
formless void You fashioned a whole
world, from tiniest ant to largest leviathan.
Then You finished by forming us in
Your image. After that intense six-day
burst of divine energy You ceased,
and rested on the seventh day.
What is so important, Lord, that we
cannot keep Your Sabbath?
What foolish mortals we must be
to think our work more urgent
than Yours. If even You rested on
the seventh day, why should we do less?
Really, Lord, how momentous is making
a trip to the supermarket compared
to gathering the vast waters into seas?
How consequential is mowing the grass
compared to calling into being all the
shrubs and herbs and flowering trees?
What is so important, Lord, that we
cannot keep Your Sabbath?
Where is it decreed that football
and soccer tournaments must
take place on Sunday? Where is it
written that we must clean out the
garage and wash the dog on Sunday?
If even You felt the need for rest,
what hubris leads us to believe
we can do without? Please, Lord,
help us to put the rest back in Sabbath.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Safe Harbor

Sometime during the long night of sleep
fog descended on the harbor and wrapped it
in softest gray, as if to bestow an earthly shroud.
Replacing the familiar are blurred outlines:
Where are the rooflines? Where the piers?
Where does land end and water begin?
Like displaced ghost timbers, masts reach up
into an uncertain sky as if to pierce this
shroud of gray that surely throws even seabirds
on the wing off course. We, moored inside
our shore cottage, can only wonder at this
shrouded world and offer gratitude for this,
our cottage at the edge. For might we not
be still on board our small craft, trying to
find our way home in this wrapped world?
Insecure are we in our navigation, and as
prone to floundering as flapping sails.
Unseen now are known landmarks: the
three pines on the point and the bulbous
water tower disappear into this settled shroud,
so finely woven no threads can be seen.
Hidden are our guiding, bobbing buoys.
Vast and deep is the ocean, Lord, and our
little vessel a lone surface voyager subject to
heeling, rocking, bucking and sudden spills.
But, safely moored inside, Lord, we can hear
Your voice in the call of the foghorn: low, deep,
prolonged, intermittent, persistent. Out of this
shrouded world, Your voice calls, guides, directs
and protects. What need have we of other landmarks
if we have You, Lord? What need have we of the
pines on the point, the water tower and the buoys?
Were we still unmoored on the deep, we know
You would safely guide us home in this enveloping
fog shroud. For in You, God of mercy,
do we put our trust.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2015

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Saved by Perfect Love

A hard path was your constant portion, Lord:
a wandering ministry with no home to call
Your own; foot-bruising days of continuous
walking, always walking; jostling crowds
and importunate petitioners pulling at Your hem;
pompous appointed authorities scheming
to entrap You; exhaustion at eventide.
All this and more You bore for us, Lord.
Profoundly disturbing were the failings
of the chosen twelve who let You down:
heavy with sleep were their eyelids when
You needed them most; continual was their
misunderstanding of Your teachings.
Before the morning crow of the cock
The man You chose to head Your church
denied You three times; another sold Your
life for thirty dirty pieces of silver.
Did Your heart come near to breaking?
All this and more You bore for us, Lord.
Agonizing was Your long walk to the
place of the skull. Not once but three times
You stumbled and fell. Unspeakable was
Your time of trial nailed with iron through
flesh to the hard wood of Your cross.
Crowned with gouging thorns were You,
stripped of your clothes and subjected to
the raucous casting of lots for Your cloak
(could they not have waited for You to die?).
All this and more You bore for us, Lord.
The dark days that came in three dragged on;
would this never be finished? At last it was over.
In a sudden sunburst of glory You ascended
to Your heavenly Father ennobled and exalted,
there to be our loving savior and advocate,
master, teacher, pastor, redeemer and friend.
All this and more You have done for us, Lord;
how can such perfect love possibly be?
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2013

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Seeking Home Port

So silently it glides, lit only by a light
atop its towering mast. Captained by one
who knows his way in this opacity
of sea and sky, the well-guided vessel
will, by and by, slide into its bulk-headed
berth in home port. Empty and sized
just right, the berth has been waiting
to receive its inhabitant and those aboard.
Hospitable always, home port is haven,
refuge, sanctuary. So we, venturing on
in murky depths, long to be captained
back to our home port. See now,
we have quite lost our way. A rolling
fog-shroud hides known landmarks
even during the glowering day.
What light is there to guide us?
What commander to see us home?
How can we know where the jagged
rock-faces rise, where hidden shoals lurk
and where the rotting spars of a
storm-smashed ship float like sea serpents,
half-submerged in deceitful disarray?
We are surely bound to founder. Let us
depart our uncaptained vessel in haste
and alight on a new, accommodating shore,
there to seek a guiding star-light on land.
For we, like shepherds and magi,
are called to follow the true, well-lighted path.
Come, let us search out this steady star-light
that will shine our way into our true home port,
and the Commander who will carefully,
faithfully, tenderly guide us there.

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St. Patrick Voice of the Irish

By all rights, I should have had no love at all
for this heathen country. Its green-carpeted
hills, wind-thrashed headlands and stunted
huts never spoke to me of my homeland.
Was I not a son of Christian Britain?
Was I not seized by grizzled Irish raiders
with roughened hands and sold as a slave?
Did they not make me, their unwilling captive,
tend bleating sheep for six years? Though the
psalmist David was a shepherd, I liked it not.
For six years, all I wanted was my own country.
When I escaped and found a ship to take me home
to civilized Britain, I rejoiced. And yet…
I heard the voice of the Irish calling me back.
It was a sea-pull on my heart, strong as a tide,
and it dominated my dreams. It was God’s call.
In simplicity, solitude and spiritual community
I learned to live with monks, training as a missionary.
I even set my hand to the illumination of sacred texts.
I had to convince the Church my call was real,
speaking from that sea-pull on my heart, saying
where I, an unworthy sinner, was most needed.
I heard the voice of the Irish calling me back.
Eventually my superiors believed my call and
sent me back to Ireland to tend souls, not sheep.
On every path, critics dogged me, like those
lean, mean-faced snapping Irish hounds. Druids
didn’t want me there; they were my Pharisees.
But converts flocked to me to learn about Christ.
It wasn’t I they wanted; they wanted the Messiah.
I heard the voice of the Irish calling me back.
What will they say of me in ages to come? I am
no scholar and no mystic, despite those tidal voices
I heard in my dreams. I am just one who, seeing a job
to do for the Lord, asked for His grace to do it.

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Summertime Respite

This sometime summertime cottage becomes
something else when it hosts our stolen Mondays:
compliant, complicit and slightly surreptitious,
as if we are wayward children playing hooky
instead of an employed married couple taking
time off. Vagabond duffel-bag vacationers,
we furtively luxuriate in Monday time,
appropriated just for us. Lord, we have no wish
to escape; we only desire the rest You promised
us when we rest in You. Sometimes we hear
the cottage’s pine floors creak, protesting
the weight of our shoes and possibly imminent
departure. Staying over shushes them and us
(shhhhhhhhhhh). The sway-backed twin beds
under the slanted wall beckon, white coverlets
turned back, white sheets cooled by a wafted
window breeze. Let us sleep now.
Monday mornings, the cottage sighs,
gathering us back into its comfortable self,
sheltering our bare Monday feet (no commute)
and our lightened Monday souls (no job today).
We breathe in air of salt and pine, breathe out
a prayer of gratitude for this Monday gift.
Shoeless, we pad into a whitewashed kitchen,
where the yellow teapot will soon enough
whistle its Monday welcome. We’ll breakfast
on the deck, where two beach chairs recline
invitingly, proffering dewy favors for not
being jackknifed the night before. Listen
to the surf; when do you think the tide will
be high? Soon enough, we’ll walk to the beach,
or… maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll linger here.
Lord, this stolen time is Your summertime gift,
a paused time of respite, repose and reprieve.
Soon enough, too soon, this rented summertime cottage
will be boarded up for the season. But not just yet…
Please, Lord, we long for more of Your stolen Mondays.
Copyright © By Peggy Eastman, 2016

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Thanksgiving for Earthly Blessings

Temporal and fleeting are our lives in this world;
we know it well, Lord.
We know we are on a journey to You, where we
will find our only real home.
And yet…You have given us comforts precious and plentiful for this journey.
We thank You for these earthly blessings.
You have placed us in homes with families;
we thank You for their much-loved faces and voices. We thank You for the times we sit together
around our dining room table holding warm,
familiar hands while saying grace.
We thank You for lovingly cooked turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans spooned out
generously on grandmother’s plates.
We thank You for cranberry sauce, tangy on the tongue, and puffy biscuits fragrant from the oven.
We thank you for these earthly blessings.
We thank You for our church, where we belong to a larger family, a family linked by love of You.
Surely these bonds are strong, as are the blood ties
that bind us to our own kin.
We thank You for the skillful hands that arrange
glorious autumnal altar flowers just so,
and for our gifted music minister and the choir whose blended voices bid us gather together in Your name.
We thank You for our priests, Your appointed servants, who so selflessly and generously offer us
the sacred spiritual food that sustains our souls.
We thank you for these earthly blessings,
gifts precious and plentiful for the journey.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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The Power of Forgiveness

(Inspired by the reconciliation ministry of
Pastor Deo Gashagaza in Rwanda)
Two hands stretch out;
they reach across years of pain.
They touch fingertips, tentatively.
There is a choice here; the pain is
the great divide. It has been nurtured;
it has taken on power of its own.
This power can continue to grow, or…
I forgive you; please forgive me.
Two hands stretch out; they clasp.
There is warmth here; there is hope here.
There are possibilities here.
The two hands are stronger than one hand.
I forgive you; please forgive me.
The two clasped hands reach past the pain,
past the remembrance of what caused
the pain, past the need to remember the pain.
This is not forgetting; this is forgiving.
There is a difference.
The two clasped hands form a bond;
the bond is a beginning.
I forgive you; please forgive me.
This is not yet love, but it could be.
This is a kind of acceptance.
This is a kind of hope.
Two hands stretch out; they clasp.
Their power is stronger than
the power of pain, however long
that pain was nurtured and tended.
Two hands stretch out; when they clasp
they form a bond. The bond is a beginning;
now the path to love can begin.
I forgive you; please forgive me.

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The Waters Are Rising

The waters are rising.
Hurricanes with monstrous intent flood our rivers and estuaries;
walls of water crash onto our coasts and collapse our homes.
Battering winds topple trees we trusted were firmly rooted;
piers and walls snap like matchstick models
crafted by children at play.
Have we learned nothing from the first great flood?
What ark can save us now, Lord?
For nearly half a year the waters of the biblical great flood
prevailed upon the earth, and no sign of land was seen.
If we bring the second great flood upon ourselves,
what dove can save us now, Lord?

The waters are rising.
Lord, You blessed Noah and his family with
Your boundless mercy;
You delivered them to safety on dry land.
With faith and fear Noah followed Your salvation blueprint
to the letter and number, and built the ark You bade him make.
Please, Lord, guide us as You did Noah;
deliver us from our sinful ways with Your plan for our salvation. Lord, we do not want to
bring a second great flood
upon ourselves.
We do not want to be latter-day environmental refugees;
we do not want to be earthly evacuees.

The waters are rising.
Please, Lord, help us to preserve and cherish this fragile
blue-green globe on which we depend for our very being.
Temper our rapacious appetite for ever more energy to fuel our castles and limousines, and
that grasping greed for fossil fuels that turns us into gluttons who dig and drill and dam.

The waters are rising.
For Noah you set your rainbow in the heavens, Lord,
Your sacred sign that never more would flood waters deluge
and cover all the earth.
But the waters are rising.
Please, Lord, deliver us from ourselves, we pray.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Three In One

Three in one and one in three;
we celebrate this mystery.
Love is an all-powerful Creator;
love is a vulnerable Infant;
love is a comforting Spirit
descending as a light from heaven
into the depths of profound darkness.
Our salvation is triune; our salvation
is one. Grasping this indivisible unity
is like trying to catch and hold the wind,
or like asking the sinking sun to
stay awhile longer before it slips
out of our sight. This triune truth
has been revealed to us in Scripture;
although it is beyond human understanding,
it is not beyond human belief.
Three in one and one in three;
we celebrate this mystery.
Everlasting God, daily do You
give us glimmers of Your three-part
presence. What we cannot explain
with our heads, we take into our hearts.
What we cannot measure or quantify,
we humbly take on trust and faith.
One God are You, God of Abraham,
God of the Gospels, yet one in three:
holy, sacred, our source of strength
in sorrow, consolation in catastrophe,
joy in the blessings of Your good earth.
Three in one and one in three;
we celebrate this mystery.
We do not seek to understand;
we seek only to accept and worship.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2013

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Tiller of Souls

Lord, You are our master gardener,
preparing the soil of our souls to receive
Your word. Carefully, tenderly, You
provide the water of life and the nutrients
needed for spiritual growth. Stones, thorny
thistles and weeds with stubborn tap roots
You gently cut out and remove. With merciful
care, You till and stir to prevent impacted ideas
from spoiling Your garden. Tilling takes time,
Lord; this preparation may be prolonged
over years or even decades.
Some soil is rockier than others.
Some soil is harder than others.
Some soil is but a superficial layer
that needs the rich, fertile compost
of Your grace to prevent it from blowing
away in an unforgiving wind from the north.
But You are a patient gardener who leaves
no soil untended, even in dark, wintry months
when other gardeners have hung up their tools.
Please, Lord, never stop tilling the soil
of our souls, we pray. Wield Your spade;
fertilize and water at will, until we are
ready to receive the sacred seeds of Your word.
Then, plant them deeply inside us so they will
germinate, grow strong and flourish, to yield
a harvest of riches for Your kingdom of such
abundance that we are astonished and
humbled at Your power working within us,
O master gardener of souls.

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To Hold This Leaf

Not quite the unsullied gold
I had at first thought to hold
is this leaf I stooped to pluck
from an indifferent stair.
No, it is not unblemished treasure.
And yet…
Look at the brown speckles there,
akin to an alligator’s skin:
perhaps they tell of drought.
And yet…
Observe the tears in this serrated side;
my leaf may have been buffeted for too long
by northerly winds overly strong.
And yet…
Finger the pinprick hole at the very top,
the tiny black spot by the spine;
an insect must have tarried awhile to dine.
No, this leaf is not untarnished gold.
And yet…
On what branch of what autumnal tree
was this leaf I now hold hung?
Did it leave willingly, its stem lightly awhirl?
Or was it hastily dislodged and flung? No matter.
Your backbone has served you well, veined leaf;
you have not begun to shrink and curl.
And yet…
When you do, I will cherish you all the more,
just as our Maker cherishes each of us in all
our seasons: from our earliest tender springtime
to summer ripeness to autumn crispness
to the bare-branched beauty of the
late winter of our lives.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2015

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Wayward But Willing

That free will You gave us is quirky, Lord;
sometimes it leads us down wayward paths
we should not tread. We need the strength
to tame it. Saul/Paul knew its power, that
capricious will; did he not say that at times
it led him to do the things he did not wish
to do, and at other times pulled him away
from doing what he most desired to do?
Please, Lord, make Your will our will.
Surely we are Your grand experiment, Lord,
creatures who can choose our own path.
This is no double-blinded study; there is no
control group. It’s not for us to probe
the mystery of why You made us so,
but it is our duty to consider whether our
choices are pleasing in Your sight.
Please, Lord, make Your will our will.
Are the paths we choose in concordance
with Your Scriptures? Do they bear the
fruits of kindness? Do they bring others
happiness and peace? Do we bring Your
word to those who don’t yet know You?
Do we seek out ways to feed the hungry,
clothe those in rags, house those who
have no roof and no bed, comfort those
who grieve and those who are not well?
Please, Lord, make Your will our will.
And when we stray, as stray we will,
please set our feet back on Your right path
and forgive us, for we know that walking
Your way is where we belong. With Your
help, we will try ever harder to discern
Your will for us and make it our own,
diligently taming the obstinate caprices of
that quirky will that wants to go its own way.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2015

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Welcome to God

Welcome to God’s Family

You are a member of God’s family; so am I.
Sons and daughters of the Almighty are we:
that is nothing less than our inheritance
as members of the family of our Lord.
Doesn’t it give you pause?
To those who feel unwanted, we say:
you will find belonging in the family of God.
To those who are hurting, we say:
you will find comfort in the family of God.
To those whose biological families have
left them loveless, we say:
you will find love in the family of God.
To those whose lives have been arid and
without meaning, we say:
you will find purpose in the family of God.
To those who feel soulless, we say:
you will find your soul in the family of God.
Come, let us celebrate our status as
beloved children in the family of God.
Don’t you find this good news?
Let us shout with joy, let us dance with glee.
Let us join hands as fellow members of God’s
family. To those hanging back and looking on,
too frightened or diffident or lacking in confidence,
trust or hope to come forward, we say:
we don’t care who your parents were
or where you came from or where you live.
We are all related in God’s family, and
we take care of our own.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2016

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Where Shall We Turn

Comes the earthquake,
comes the hurricane,
comes the deluge,
comes the darkness,
where shall we seek our refuge?
Comes the airborne attack,
comes the genocidal terror,
comes the armed thief in the night,
where shall we turn for succour?
Can our flimsy limbs stand firm
on moving earth? Can our frail frames
withstand lion-roaring winds that
topple hundred-year-old oaks?
Can our scale-less bodies swim
fast enough to escape devouring
floods? What defense can we offer
against a suicide bomb-bearer wedded
to nihilism? Can our exposed bodies
resist weapons wielded by zealots? Can we
disarm the stealthy thief who stalks by night?
Where shall we turn for succour?
Lord, You know our vulnerabilities
far better than we do. We, Your creatures,
humbly beg Your protection in perilous times.
When the ground rocks, when the hurricane
shakes the rafters, when the flood gulps
the house, when the plane of death
flies straight at us, when the gun
is poised to shoot, when the intruder
appears masked at the bedside,
be our ever-present refuge.
O Lord, we have no other.
Comes the deluge, comes the Deliverer.
Copyright © by Peggy Eastman, 2012

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Yearning for Easter Cleansing

On our knees we come before You, Lord,
offering our smudged selves.
Our soul-stains grieve us, but not nearly
as much as they must grieve You.
No power is in us to wash our souls ourselves;
this corporeal soil’s fingerprint is too deep.
We kneel to beg Your cleansing.
Inwardly begrimed, we turn our faces
to the ground. Prostrate and stained
as we are, we yet dare to seek Your solace.
In your timeless mercy, deal gently
with us, Lord. Surely this soul-staining
is not irreparable; surely You will remove it.
We beg You: wash our souls as You washed
Your disciples’ feet on that holy Thursday.
Then bid us rise from our knees
and turn our faces toward the coming dawn
that will reveal an empty, transformed cross.
Newly washed and made whole, we rise to
serve You: retrieved, renewed, restored, redeemed.
Copyright © 2012 by Peggy Eastman

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