I am a musician, a writer, and a poet. It is now and has always been the primary means by which I engage the Holy. More correctly, it is God’s way of assuring access to me, to my deepest parts. The poem that follows is one composed the day after Holy Week a few years ago. For a local church music director, that day is always bittersweet. Bitter, because all that the week promises in its wealth of life-giving news and hints of transformation is gone for another year. Sweet, because such a grand narrative is never over. It is always just beginning (and, because I can sleep again after not having done so for awhile!)

I spent that day on quiet retreat at our denomination’s mountain camp. It was a time of recuperating, regenerating, retooling, and revisioning. I pray it is that for you, too.

Ghormley Meadows Christian Camp and Retreat Center, Washington State
Ghormley Meadows Christian Camp and Retreat Center, Washington State

Rimrock retreat – a day at Ghormley Meadows

Rimrock, rustic and real with space

to contain all that’s empty.

The rugged road cast before feet apace

where moon outshines the sun’s identity-

but loses out to one yet brighter.

 

Pillaged, austere and raw this one comes

bent and spent he went round

and there to see tomb unmanned, he’d won

what spillage, spewed, is spared, fixed and found.

I was blind but now have sight, or

 

is all that sees as blind or lost

as one whose eyes are just downcast?

For just to see is not to walk, wind-toss’d

and free from nature’s slighted past.

Between the stones of each one’s road

 

grow wild, still, evidences of strangely new

that mix with voices old to taunt

and vie for the once-free. But they, too

must retreat or be removed like mustard-mount

seeds of faith renewed, of hope, sowed

 

to keep and deepen the promised field

of unswept dreams and unkept pains;

detritus of lesser gods gives way to peals

of forest bells and words and Word unstain’d

This one’s tale of a Tale once and forever told.

* * * * *

Perhaps take time today to write poetry, music, or journal. I bet God finds you in the process!

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Robert Alan Rife

Robert Rife, M.A., minister of worship and music for Yakima Covenant Church (formerly Westminster Presbyterian) in Yakima, Washington, is a self-proclaimed book-nerd-word-herder, multi-instrumentalist (including Highland Bagpipes!), singer-songwriter, studio musician, choral director, poet, and liturgist. He maintains two personal blogs: Innerwoven and Robslitbits. He also blogs at Conversations Journal. Robert describes his vocation as exploring those places where life, liturgy, theology, and the arts intersect with and promote spiritual formation.

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