Epiphany’s provocation

Ken Sehested

We, of the majority caste, are largely innocents. By innocent
I mean clueless about the way history has privileged some
and impoverished others. If we are to move toward a future
beyond the fatal consequence of our transgressions, we
must lose our innocence, which includes much unlearning.
We have hard work to do, patient work, risky work, but
worthy, inspiring, hopeful work.

Take a hand. Make your vow. Gird your loins. Declare an
allegiance beyond the tip of your nose. Step over your
contented threshold and out of your comfort zone.
Prepare for turbulence, maybe threat. Make alliances
across racial and class and cultural boundaries.
Cultivate the kind of imagination needed to resist
cultural conformity and nationalist fervor.

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For the forlorn

Every lit and lively season (Christmas, especially) comes, for some, with heartache, usually over the absence of a beloved whose remembrance still cuts to the quick and pickles the heart. In addition, Nativity’s season unfolded with ancient Palestine’s writhing under the oppressive heel of Rome’s imperial boot. The poem below is set in these parallel moods.

§  §  §

Do not fear grief. She comes, unbidden, with a word hard
but essential. The rocks beneath your feet are bruising and
unrelenting. The wind, sharp as a razor. The moon casts
threatening shadows, each a hissing dragon or fearsome
reaper’s scythe.

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Jubilate Deo

Poem for the third Sunday of Advent: JOY

Ken Sehested

The portal to Earth’s agony is the same for Heaven’s ecstasy. Both take us to that bewilding place beyond the world’s rule masquerading as reality, as natural, as divinely appointed. Here in this wild space free of rationed provision, hidden pain can be exposed; silenced voices, heard; shame, named and untangled. Here the disappeared marshal the festal parade of ascension to Glory’s reception.

Jubilate Deo!

Here, manna is provided beyond merit, profligate and extravagant. Here, water flows from sheer rock. The last, the least, the lost are gathered in the welcoming arms of the Beloved, whose might is manifest in mercy. With every such announcement, a multitude of heavenly hosts burst into boisterous acclaim and exuberant voice even as joyful refrains eclipse Earth’s fleshly grief and history’s consternation.

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Trenched by sorrow, tracked by joy

Is assurance believable in the face of trauma?

by Ken Sehested

How is it that the heart, trenched by sorrow, can be, at the same
time, enlarged in its capacity for empathy and compassion: the
qualities that trigger the work benevolence and the labor
of advocacy?

Grief can be lethal, of course. Survival typically requires the
tender stroke of many comforters: hands in hands, around
shoulders, full embrace, skin on skin; whispered
encouragement in the face of grief’s wake; assurance of the
sun’s resolve to arise despite the fright of darkest night.

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The Last Word

A wedding blessing for Caitlin Hope Wood & Zack Neel

by Ken Sehested

May you store up patience, for life is not always kind, and you need to persevere.

Remember that regret is not the last word.

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Summon your nerve

A call to the Table on Pentecost Sunday

by Ken Sehested

I would love to think approaching

this table conferred visions of

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Hallelujahs and heartaches, too

On the occasion of a friend's retirement after more than four decades of pastoral ministry

by Ken Sehested

What a day! What a day! Not to mention a year,

4+ decades piled head-to-toe,

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