My Couch/8

My office couch is a resting place,
not for weary bones after long days, or
curled limbs cradling books of adventures
to be joined. But more often for mail
needing attention, tomes calling for their
shelves, mending awaiting nimble fingers,
notes to be answered. The cushions ignored,
comfort buried in worry.

When the hodgepodge begins its spread
to the floor I scold myself as impatient
mother to shameful child and resolvedly
begin the sort. Trash bag gap-mouthed
ready to swallow once vital, now shrugged
off trifles without a second thought, I wonder
why I fear the beggarly litter when grace and
love are buried so deeply under daily agenda.

In the peace of clearance, in quieted space
of tasks released, I see the opening,
voluminous, bigger than clutter could
ever shroud. Arms welcome rest to lay
my head, put up my feet to still myself and
hear his call, let him cradle me, his beloved.

.
.
.
.
Author’s note:

I am not a fisherman.

My study of the Gospel of Thomas took a break through the Advent and Christmas seasons followed by my project with Brigid of Kildare and Imbolc. With Lent looming, I decided it is time to return to Thomas for a bit.

I am on Logion 8 and the image of fishing left me cold. I attempted it, the logion not fishing,  a while back during a small breath of space between the two seasons. I was stumped.

Thomas O. Lambdin’s translation from  the Gnostic Society Library:

(8) And he said, “The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.

I decided to approach Logion 8 one more time through Lectio Divina on my cleared-off couch.

Enough said.
.
.
.
.

If you would like to read the others poems in my study, click the titles below. Or you can also visit all of them on the Theophany page.

The Lion and The Mortal/7
Towers/6
Through the Mirror/5
Alone/4
Breath/3
Sovereignty/2
Twin/1  

The Lion and The Mortal/7

Lion devours mortal, becomes mortal.
Mortal devours Lion, becomes leonine.

You made your way through dusty streets,
sandaled, dry, hung in cloth worn soft by travel.

Your face browned in the sun, rough, intimately lined.
Your beard and your hair braided with sand.

The Lion came to devour that which was human.
Eat. Drink. Weep. Teach. Unyieldingly love.

Perish. You left a banquet table for the feast.
We consecrate and gorge to become worthy, yet

forget that on which the Lion feasted.
The Lion became mortal, we are one.

.

.

.

Author’s Note:

In pondering Logion 7, it is said that the two images are not parallel. It is said that Jesus is describing two different states of human beings. I think I understand this, but I have a different way of seeing this parable.

Jesus, not as the lamb but as the Lion of God, leonine in his love for us, becomes human, lives human. The curse of being human is death itself. Jesus had to die because he was mortal. However, He left us the last supper, our communion, as a reminder. When we eat the Lion He becomes a part of us, we become the Lion. We need this reminder lest we forget that He is the Lion within us.

I think I will need to return to this logion and my understanding of this gospel grows.
.
.
Logion 7 of the Gospel of Thomas translated by Thomas O. Lambdin as found at the Gnostic Society Library.

(7) Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.”

The other poems in this series of my study of the Gospel of Thomas can be found at Theophany or here:

Towers/6
Through the Mirror/5
Alone/4
Breath/3
Sovereignty/2
Twin/1  

Towers/6

I place block upon block
like a child grasping those small wooden pieces,
squares with the alphabet painted in primary reds,
blue, yellow, and secondary green
with primitive drawings on two sides
matching the sound of each letter,
lowercase on another, upper case at the end.

With precision I secure one upon the next,
perfectly chosen, balanced.
I make a tower. I do my job.
I seek perfection. I want the prize.

I am empty building this monument,
yet I continue day and night, years into life.
The tower grows, topples. I begin
again. No matter. I will do what I am told,
lying if I must, pretense. I follow the rules.
I loathe the bricks.

In the last fall, I heard your voice.
Removing the blocks from my hands your
touch is gentle, not like the hewn lump
I wasted in perpetuity.

Deep within, I gasp. There is a spark
waiting to flame. You know it is there.
Holy oils anoint my skin, the rigid shell
softens. Harsh coarse words
fade with your embrace. Finally, I am.

.
.
.
.

Author’s Note:

There is a darkness to these current logions. I find myself visiting my past, glad knowing I am in a new place now.

My other poems in this series of my study of the Gospel of Thomas can be found at Theophany or here:

Through the Mirror/5
Alone/4
Breath/3
Sovereignty/2
Twin/1  

Logion 6 from the Gospel of Thomas, translated by Stephen J. Patterson and James M. Robinson at the Gnostic Society Library:

(6)

(1) His disciples questioned him, (and) they said to him:
” Do you want us to fast?
And how should we pray and give alms?
And what diet should we observe?”

(2) Jesus says: “Do not lie. (3) And do not do what you hate.
(4) For everything is disclosed in view of <the truth>.
(5) For there is nothing hidden that will not become revealed.
(6) And there is nothing covered that will remain undisclosed.”

Through The Mirror/5

In the circus, a clown smears
her face with white paint thick,
covers all she seems to be
allowing her self an escape route.
A round red nose draws attention
away from the struggle,
fuchsia hair stands guard.
Her voice rises from her depths, without a sound,
rolls up her windpipe and out her smile.
Look through the mirror, she listens.
Find their joy and show it to them
on a platter they cannot discount.

The circus mimics life they say.
The Ringmaster conducts the parade.
Elephants in formation march
into daily submission.
Lions whipped into place jump
through hoops, sit on thrones.
High above, removed from all,
wire acts balance precariously.
Only clowns see inside,
the joy or the grief.

It must be tangible, this sacrament of life.
We must be able to touch it, know it from within.
It is there on the table waiting to be found.
Go ahead, look through the mirror.
He is there.

.
.
.
.
Author’s Note:

I must give a heartfelt thanks to Fr. Scott Jenkins at the Church of the Holy Family, ECC, for his powerful and challenging homily today. Little did he know, nor did I at the time, that a phrase of his would wind up here in my fifth poem in my study of the Gospel of Thomas.

Today we celebrated what old time Roman Catholics used to call the feast of Christ the King. Now it is known by another name in the Roman Church. But I like Fr. Scott’s name better – the Reign of Christ Here On Earth. Lovely.

However, that’s not the quote I used above. His other line about sacraments, we had three baptisms today at Mass, is what rung through me. The fact is that sacraments are a gift to us, but more importantly, they must be tangible. And that’s why our physical selves must celebrate and honor the unseen and often ignored Gift inside us by observing and participating in the sacraments.

This is what Logion 5 of the Gospel of Thomas calls me to do. I must look inside and out, seeing myself in the mirror but also looking through the mirror to see Him in others, too.

My other poems in this series can be found in Theophany or here:
Alone/4
Breath/3
Sovereignty/2
Twin/1  

.
.
.

Logion 5 from the Gospel of Thomas, translated by Stephen J. Patterson and James M. Robinson, found at the Gnostic Library Society:

(5) Jesus says:

(1) “Come to know what is in front of you,
and that which is hidden from you will become clear to you.
(2) For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest.”

One Alone/4

You meet the time when
in your hand rests that trinket,
once keeper of such joy, such
covetousness, and you wonder
where the time has gone.

You gaze into the elephant’s eye
far above your head, wrinkles
spiral into darkness, a vastness
you cannot seem to comprehend.

You bend your head to survey
the bamboo birdcage,
weathered and brittle, pushing
aside what keeps you from the latch,
not quite able to reach.

Rest your fingers gently on the
suckling’s ribcage, a mere week
of breath rising to the moon,
releasing, no woe yet known,
a single whole you become one.

.
.
.
.

Author’s note:
My entry on the fourth logion of the Gospel of Thomas seems to return to breath and birdcages.

If you would like to read my earlier poems on my study of the Gospel of Thomas, here are the links to those poems:

Breath/3
Sovereignty/2
Twin/1  
.
.
.
Logion 4 as translated by Stephen J. Patterson and James. M. Robinson at the Gnostic Library Society:

(4) Jesus says:
(1) “The person old in his days will not hesitate to ask a child seven days old about the place of life, and he will live. 
(2) For many who are first will become last, (3) and they will become a single one.”

Breath/3

I see the hawk take flight. She soars
into the ether as the life source thins,
twirls and swirls and raises her head
to the infinite.

I walk, heel meets concrete, gravity’s pull.
Foot rolls to toe lifting. Heel down and leads me
along a cobbled path to the door whose key rests
in my palm.

I watch the beta. Tail and fins a fine ball gown,
flutters iridescent. The sun’s finger grazes
the water in the small bulbous bowl perched
high on its shelf.

My lips part and his breath enters, I live.
An aromatic elixir surrounds my heart.
Exhale and I exit into the world.
Yahweh.

.

.

.

Author’s Note:

Our homilist today during mass at the Church of the Holy Family, ECC, was a young man named Ryan Taylor. He works with Mile High Ministries in Denver and is the director of Access and the Network Coffeehouse, “…a place where the middle-class can interact and build genuine friendships with those who dwell on our streets.” It is amazing work he does with the homeless and it was a passionate homily.

Ryan spoke to us about our names, street names of the homeless, God’s names for us, and ours for God. I was struck by his telling of the name Yahweh. Breathing in we can feel the natural breath of God as we say “Yah” and breathing out He leaves naturally in the “weh.” I will never utter His name again without holding this in my heart.

Along my journey of discovering the Gospel of Thomas, Yahweh’s breath wove itself through Logion 3 and, hence, the above poem.

Thank you, Ryan Taylor.

.

.

.

.

About the Gospel of Thomas:

Digging deeper into the Gnostic Society Library and two other translations they offer, I am now drawn more strongly to the translation by Stephen J. Patterson and James M. Robinson:

(3) Jesus says:

(1) “If those who lead you say to you: ‘Look, the kingdom is in the sky!’
then the birds of the sky will precede you.
(2) If they say to you: ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fishes will precede you.
(3) Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you.”
(4) “When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known,
and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father.
(5) But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty, and you are poverty.”

Sovereignty/2

He was an odd figure, scarecrow like,
if viewed from a traveler’s distance.

Dainty wildflowers a field, his place of holy reverence.
His arms wide spread as if hung from timbers

awaiting joyful flight. Each wrist wrapped
in common twine.  On the right from every string,

a sparrow taught against the knots aloft
in heaven’s marrow. In the left a cage swung freely

door opened balanced in precision where his soul remained
perched ever waiting an absolute decision. With one great breath,

his rough capped head deep bowed in piety, he bent his knees
to lift himself. But it was earth and not the sky

where rest was firmly planted. In their hearts his rapture
grew no longer from a distance.

.
.
.
.
Author’s Note:

This is the second poem in my project. I am studying the Gospel of Thomas. In response to my learning, my intention is to write a poem for each Logion.

Logion 2 from the Gospel of Thomas. Translated by Thomas O. Lamdben from the Gnosis Archive:

(2) Jesus said, “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.”

Here is a link to Logion 1, the first in my series:

Logion 1        Twin

Twin/1

Grasping with one last stronghold weathered,
now swarthy, once supple and verdant,

then golden to russet, now brittle,
her breath chides me to release my grip,

wisdom’s tumble down to earth.  Yet by my side
I am twin, identical or kin we twist

and turn through seasons’ favors
to shade or gift pure expiration.

Within my veins his words still
flow. I am parchment left behind.

I will loosen, take her ride,
crumble to dust leaving bare

a fashioned branch refined
for spring’s incumbent arrival.

.

.

.

.

Author’s Note:

I was recently introduced to The Gospel of Thomas among other writings that did not “make it” into the canonical gospels. Sharon Taylor, a spiritual director at the Church of the Holy Family, ECC, gave me a taste of these sayings of Jesus at a workshop. I am so very surprised to hear these words, many of which are used in the New Testament. These are transformative words. They open my eyes and heart to help me discover who I am.

I also now realize how writing helps me process and understand, and then explain my learning. So my new project plan is to write a poem based on each of the sayings of my study of the Thomas gospel and the sharing within our study group.

The above poem is a similar take, “twin” seems appropriate here, on one of my earlier poems in October, Marl. Must be the season.

Here is Logion I from the Gospel of Thomas that I used as part of my prompt. This translation is from the Gnostic Society Library by Thomas O. Lambdin:

These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.
(1) And he said, “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.”