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“... poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.” –Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

Give name to the nameless…

Throughout the last few years, we have faced so many challenges in our lives. Each challenge has been different for each person. Some have faced the heartache of losing a family member to a virus we had never even heard of before last year.

Early last year…when we walked into our churches unmasked and unaware of what was ahead…when we tried to give name to our feelings…when the words Black Lives Matter sat in our minds as we tried to find out how to live out that reality…when we screamed Black Lives Matter because a family member was now lost to us forever by a shot that didn’t have to happen

…when we declared that we would take stands against the names that had lead industries and institutions forever but had abused their powers and caused deep hurts and divisions in families, in communities, and in our nation.

We called out the names of people who were murdered or beaten or bullied because they were transgender or gay or nonbinary…terms we never wanted to name in our churches or our schools…but then we saw the beauty in the people and the power of the gifts they brought to each of us. We called their names to send out hope to each person who was hurting or felt left out of our communities.

We said the names of community members lost…we said the names of sexual assault victims…we named truths that had remained hidden in the shadows because of the power and control of abusive individuals who wanted all of their desires met at the expense of others.

We named our grief…our hurts…our anger…our losses.

Then we named our source of hope…we declared our faith…we knew that the word Christian still had meaning for us. We believed, yet we struggled.

How could we find the words for this moment in time when we needed to hold on to our faith, yet also redefine all that we ever believed?

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV): “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Reflective Writing:

What has changed about your faith in the past six months? In the past year?

What two things do you know with certainty about God?

What verse do you still hold on to as we walk through the season of Lent? When do you first remember reading or hearing this verse? Has the meaning of this verse changed for you as you grew in faith?

Write a prayer for today for yourself, for your family, for your community, and for our nation.

Naming Flowers

I walked out into the morning air

and breathed in the coolness of the dawn

as my feet met the dew on the grass just

beginning to grow across the spring lawn

and I held the warm tea in my earthen mug

and tried to imagine that my life

was beginning again just as this day was

and I closed my eyes and thought of

the river behind the cabin and I heard a splash

and followed the sound to the banks where I

watched a frog hopping out of sight and saw

the ripples where a fish had risen to meet the

morning and watched dragonflies moving among

the reeds, and then I spotted the heron

watching me from its spot on the shore

and it gazed my way as if perplexed by my life and my uncertainties I carried so openly, and it whispered my name and said, “Look and see,”

so I looked at what I had not seen

and saw the tiny water striders

skirting across the calm pools near the shore

and saw tiny minnows just below the surface

and the heron once again said, “Look and see,”

and I turned to the path I had traveled and saw

wildflowers—purple and yellow and white—

lining the way with their blooms

reaching up into the morning light

and the heron once again said, “Look and see,”

and I looked into my own life and saw

wildflowers blooming—

the ones others named as weeds and tried

to tear from my soul­­—

and I saw my dreams swimming just below the surface

waiting for me to feed them and I saw the ripples of pain

that had been tossed my way

without a thought as to my needs—

and I looked up at the heron as it flew away with

wings spread and head held high and it beckoned me

to let my wings and hopes unfold

as I made my way along the river bank

and it asked me to leave behind

my uncertainties as I learned to embrace all that

grew within me and I touched the petals

of the wildflowers and called them beautiful

and began my flight home.

Poem by Chris Pepple © 2019

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