Daily Passion

A gloss upon the blessing that concludes daily Morning and Evening Prayer.

Holy Thursday

May the Lord bless us
… with Christ’s command to love others
… with His gift of the Eucharist
… and with His commissioning of ministers

Good Friday

protect us from all evil
… through the Son’s obedience to the Father
… through His bearing of our sins
… and through His death upon the cross

Holy Saturday

and bring us to everlasting life
… by Christ’s descent into the depths
… by His harrowing of hell
… and by His rescue of His children from death

Easter Sunday

Amen
… So be it!
… Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
… Alleluia!

Navel and Nails

He hangs from a cross,
itself hanging on a nail
on the wall by my desk.
This hand-carved olive wood
crucifix is
souvenir, decoration,
sermon, icon.

There are days, maybe weeks
when it blends
into the décor.
Or rather, I turn my gaze
to other objects.
Then it—he!—hangs
and waits.

Today it spoke to me.
Not in words,
but in a voiceless
tender tap on my shoulder.
“Look and see.”

I looked and then I saw.
A detail carved there
two dozen years ago
lay waiting for this moment,
for my eyes to see.

Beneath his protruding ribs,
below his bowed head,
the marks of human birth.
Not the stripling of wood grain
or the vagaries of skin,
but the navel of the Christ.

Here is—eternally—the mark
of the Incarnation.
God with us, Immanuel,
Son of God and Son of Man
and Son of Mary,

Brother in the flesh,
in our flesh.

Here on my wall
is the icon
proclaiming the Good News,
the same Evangel proclaimed
by Paul and Peter
and all the others
since that day.

“Christ emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.

“And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient
to the point of death—
even death on a cross.”

Annunciation, Nativity,
Crucifixion, Resurrection.

Navel and nails.
His are plain
for me to see.
He hangs in silent witness.

If I bow my head to look,
if I place my finger
in the scarred recess,
I see, I know
the truth of my birth,
my own birth,
my own most human birth.

I share the mark of
Christ’s birth
with him, with you.

Then I raise my hand
and open the palm.
No scar is visible,
no nail yet protrudes.

But then my life is not completed.
My end of days has not yet come.

In these times of silence
I wait, I watch, I listen
—a personal, internal
season of preparation,
an Advent—
for the voiced, his voice:
“Come, follow me.”

Would you wait with me?
We can wait together,
give one another courage.

I do not wait alone.
We wait together—
you and I—
and all who bear
the navel mark.
We wait for our nails.

And in the end—the End—
the ending implied
by navel
and hammered home by nails
will give way to the Voice,
saying,
“Now!”

This Word brings
speech from silence,
life out of death,
victory from defeat:
“At the name of Jesus
every knee should bend
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father.”

Navel.
Nails.
Now!

December 17, 2008
Denton, Nebraska

The Tracks of a Small Bird

Like bent plus signs
or odd tri-tined forks
traced an almost Brownian path
across the fine silt
lining the bottom of an oblong puddle
in the driveway after an April rain.

I stopped and knelt down on one knee
to gaze at the inscription
and saw my own bowed face
and the sky above reflecting
in the mirrory surface.

Reaching out my hand,
I drew a cross
next to the bird’s tracks
and lifted moist fingers
to my forehead, heart, and shoulders,
saying,
“In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

David M. Frye
April 30, 2009
Denton, Neb.

A Canard Rewritten

The canard asserts:
We fear change.
Yet we crave, we seek
novelty and the next thing.
This is the fuel that powers
the engine of pop culture.
So change per se does not
frighten us. It enthralls us.
We like some change.
We have a taste, an appetite
for it. We consume it.
We desire the change
we can control, we can master.
But the change threatening
to master us, to consume us,
to kill us–this we fear.

So let’s rewrite the canard.
We fear uncontrollable change.
We fear unbound change.
We fear unlimited change.
We fear sovereign change.
We fear God.
But fear is the absence of faith.
So our canard becomes our cry.
We fear because we do not believe,
because we do not have trust,
because we fall short in faith.
But we do not live without hope.
The God whom we fear
has faced and faced down
the consuming, killing change,
the ending of life in death.
In raising his Son from death
by the power of their Spirit,
the Father masters the fearsome change
and then shares with us
the faith that casts out our fear.

So let’s rewrite the canard.
We do not fear change.
We do not fear death.
We do not fear God.
We have faith in God.
We trust God.
Or, as the penny reminds us
when we bend down to retrieve it
from the dust on the street,
“In God we trust.”

David M. Frye
April 29, 2009
Denton, Neb.

Slowing into Serenity

The patterns of the form
constellate my arms and legs,
creating Crane Spreads Wings,
Cloud Hands, and Ride the Tiger
from soothingly flowing glides
of steps and waves and turns.

Breathe gently, gaze calmly,
listen for the echoes of memory,
smooth the moves and flow
like a mountain stream
over rocks worn round by soft waters.
There’s no rush to reach the sea.

Like Sirius and Polaris,
brilliant scintillations in night’s black,
T’ai Chi shines serenely
on a calm canvas of breath and earth.
The interstitial emptiness inspires life
in constellations of stars and flesh.

David M. Frye
April 28, 2009
Denton, Neb.

Cigar Box Bands

A lidless cardboard cigar box
and a fistful of rubber bands
became a homemade guitar
when I wrapped the open box
in one rubber band, then another.

The craftsmanship and skill came
in arranging the rubber bands
in just the right order of width
and tension for plucking a scale
without crushing the open box.

Life is like a banded box.
With the right array of tension
in the fitting places, plucked
in the opportune moments,
music of a sort breaks the silence.

One rubber band too many, wrapped too tight,
and the cigar box caves and is crushed.

David M. Frye
April 27, 2009
Denton, Neb.

Grid Riddance

The tiller’s steel teeth
bit into the soil,
chewing across the garden in rows
like teeth biting off kernels
on a buttery cob
or like the steel bits
of an old Smith-Corona
typing letters in neat rows
across a blank page.

What is it about us,
or perhaps about our tools,
that we impose ranks
and rows and lines
upon a world of curves
and bends and twists?

The greater beauty,
the better part of artistry,
lies in Fibonacci’s natural swirls
and not in our grids of efficiency.

Find the page with no lines
and write a letter longhand.
Eat corn recklessly
and leave scattered kernels.
Dig holes at random
and plant seeds of mystery.

Then wait and watch
and enjoy the surprise.

David M. Frye
April 26, 2009
Denton, Neb.

Coffee Cans

Rectangular labels with red borders
and white field bore hand-lettered
notes–nails, screws, bolts.
Dad stuck them to coffee cans,
full one-pound blue tin cans rinsed
free of their Maxwell House residue.
Heavy with hardware, the bits
of shaped and purposeful steel
that reproduced like workbench
dust bunnies, the cans stood
in a row on the bare wood shelf
in the basement, waiting at attention
for the summons. Find a dozen
or so finishing nails. Look for a bolt
about an inch long and a nut to match.
Then two small hands lifted
the ribbed cylinders down
from the shelves and shook them
one at a time, seasoning
the workbench with a dash
of nails, a pinch of nuts and bolts.

Now coffee comes in white paper cups
with recycled brown sleeves
or opaque and resealable bean bags.
Where will we store our sorted bits
of hardware, when there are no more
one-pound coffee cans?

David M. Frye
April 25, 2009
Denton, Neb.

No Signs Along the Way

SW 80th Ct
W Old Cheney Rd
6262
No Hunting
Caution Buried Cable
Before digging
in this vicinity
please call
telephone company
Warning
Underground Cable
Call Collect
402 477 0547
Lincoln Telephone
No Hunting
No Hunting
No Hunting
or Trespassing
STOP
Warning
Up to $500 fine and
imprisonment for removing
or tampering with this sign
Nebraska Code §39-619.01
Lancaster County
Private Property
No Trespassing
No Outlet
SW 77th St
W Old Cheney Rd
Warning
Buried Cable Route
Call before
you dig
anywhere
in this area
Windstream
Call 18
553 OD
No Hunting
or Trespassing
No Hunting
7700
S.W. Fire District
293
U.S.
Mail
Approved by the
Postmaster General
Lincoln
Journal Star
Budweiser
King of Beers
diet
Mtn Dew
zero calorie Dew
Busch Light
Great Taste in an
Easy Drinking Light Beer
Bud Light
Brewed with the finest ingredients for a
refreshingly smooth taste
N218
No Hunting
Stop
Warning
Up to $500 fine and
imprisonment for removing
or tampering with this sign
Nebraska Code §39-619.01
Lancaster County
No Outlet.

David M. Frye
April 24, 2009
Denton, Neb.

Patient Waiting

The black wire rack
stood in the corner
of a small room
near the cafeteria
and waited patiently
with books in arms
for me to come
with a few coins
moist in my fist
and spin it around
with my free hand
to bring the blue cover
of Danny Dunn and
the Homework Machine

squeaking to a stop
by my outstretched fingers
reaching out to touch
my first book
of science fiction.

I lifted the book
from the rack
paid my thirty-five cents
and stepped across
a threshold
into the first of
countless worlds
of wonder and
promise and
mystery where
ideas and questions
rose like rockets
and shone like stars.

Forty years later
my sense of touch
has grown dull
with technological
calluses but when
Wednesday’s waning
Moon drew near
to Venus before dawn
the near-occultation
turned in my mind’s eye
to align itself above
an ebony monolith
waiting patiently
for the brushing touch
of hominid’s paw
or astronaut’s glove
for the search
the striving that spans
the millennia
and the hope that rises
with hope and wonder
like the Nature-motif
of Also sprach Zarathustra.

David M. Frye
April 23, 2009
Denton, Neb.