Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Sunday February 7 2021

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Word
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. Psalm 84:9–10

Poetry

Rick Kempa, “Call it ours”

Our language is never neutral, it is formed by the rhythms of our lives, by the places we travel, the daily ins and outs, the people with whom we spend our time (whether that is family, friends, co-workers, authors, people from history, sacred scriptures, news commentators, social media feeds). We are always more than just the individual we think we are, for we are always embodied within time, place, culture, mother tongue, and a thousand other influences pressing us, forming us, making and remaking us.

Reading Rick Kempa’s bio and his poetry, it is clear that he is formed, in part, by wilderness. He says “hiking is my spiritual center of gravity, my place of utter well-being, and the stimulus for much of my creative energy” and he writes books of poetry and prose with names like “On Foot,” “Deep Wild,” and “Keeping Quiet.” Regardless of our ability to set out into wilderness today/right now/in this phase of life, we are all people on a journey, and this poem offers us a way down the trail, reminding us of our fears (we may get lost) and our hopes (that a way may be found).

All we want is a path
just visible
in the new growth
of the forest floor.

We do not require
a thread of cairns
to mark the route.
Leave it to us

to find our way across
the swollen stream
to get our feet wet
if we must, to

blow past the bend
in the switchback
misread the map
become aware

too late that we
are lost, to move
this way and that
kneel in the dirt

to sit at last cross-
legged in the dusk
while the stars emerge
one by one each one

a blessing, to sleep
beneath those stars
and in the first light
find our way back

or forward it won’t
matter because we
will have found it
and can call it ours

Blessing
You are our first light and our dusky starlit night. You are our beginning and ending. Find us, claim us, call us yours. May we hear your voice, here, amid today’s path. Amen.