Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sun. May 13, 2012 (Barbara Nickel)

Published author, musician and mother, Barb Nickel began Mother’s Day with the text of Julia Ward Howe’s proclamation of peacemaking with the famous line “ we will not welcome our men to our beds reeking of carnage.” This prominent abolitionist’s words which began the tradition of Mother’s Day inspired Barb to search her own work of poetry for a peace tradition. She found it one day in the tragedy of the five mothers in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, PA, who lost daughters that went bravely to a death nobody could have imagined.  The grace and compassion and forgiveness shown by the Amish community to the family of the killer was so alien to the world’s view of “big revenge for big violence”.  Later, Barb wrote a poem about the incident and the girls themselves, which begins “You can’t see –  the small bones – of the five – girls who stopped – growing that day,” Barb redefined poetry first from a lecture by Robert Ringhurst, broadening its scope far beyond the mere text of poems, “not pretty words, not something hybridized by humans on the farm of human language... but an aspect of existence so broad... while language is [only] one of the methods by which it is brought to life.”  He noted that “poems are icebergs of language floating in the ocean of poetry”.  Barb extended Ringhurst’s definition still further to say that poetry is God’s language, as expressed in everyday actions, like the gentle grace of small girls meeting their death in Pennsylvania, in the grace of forgiveness expressed to the killer’s family.  Barb insisted that God’s poetry sometimes goes unnoticed, like the “tiny bones of the five girls buried deep in the earth”.

Through the lens of the parable of the mustard seed, Barb invited us into the poetry of God’s world. How do we participate in the poetry of creation in God’s garden? Begin to slow down, observe, listen, think, pray.  Observe the rhythm of daily life and participate mindfully in it. Weed and water daily. Get out of the way, and let life sprout not according to your will, but to God’s. Who knows what other branches and leaves have grown all over the world that day because of the Amish witness?  “Like a cavalry of dandelion seeds” (Wm. Stafford) blown by a toddler, God’s poetry is for everyone whether you know iambic pentameter or not.  What will you plant, what work of weeding and watering will you do, and what mysteries and grace will grow up unseen out of your inspiration?   [AP]

Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, May 13th, 2012 using your browser's preferred media player.



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