Posts Tagged ‘death’

Friends, I discovered this poem this morning by one of my favorite poets.  It declares hope in the midst of the powers of this world. On this Good Friday, as we inch nearer to the hope of the resurrection, may this be a reminder of the power of death that has wrecked this world and the small ways in which we can produce change.

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, copyright ® 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.


“When I Die”

Posted: 07/13/2014 in Poetry
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For the past couple months, I have been a chaplain in a hospital, and I have been confronted with the realities of death. As I sit with people at the end of life or family members and friends who have tragically and unexpectedly lost loved ones, I have contemplated my own thoughts on death and dying. Below is a poem I wrote as a way of processing these experiences.

“When I Die”

Everybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die
Lord, I wanna go to heaven
But I don’t wanna die

So I’ll long for the day when I have new birth
Still I love living here on earth
Everybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die

When I die, I want you to laugh
Like a fall out your chair
Feet in the air
Deep, deep belly laugh
I want the memories of our play
To curve a smile on your face

I want you to sing
Maybe slightly off-key
And listen for the dissonance
Just know that it’s ok if you never sing on pitch again
And it’s ok if you do

When I die, I want you to cry
And catch each tear from your eyes
Bottle them up, and when there’s enough
I want you to use them to water our garden
So you can see that life springs from grief
And that hope is more than belief
You can taste it, and watch it bloom

When I die, I want you to eat
Maybe some blackberries
Because you love blackberries
And we never kept them in the house
Cuz they cost too much
But don’t worry about that now
Just let your hands and tongue get black and blue
From something sweet for once

When I die, I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
And then I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
And then I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
And then I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
Until you can take this clay cup
And drink the fray up
Until you don’t have to rely
On trying anymore

And I still want you to laugh

And when I die,
I want you to dance in the kitchen
I want you to play in the park
I want you to sit in the sunset
Watch the stars light the dark

I want you to fight
I want you to scream
I want you to hope
I want you to dream

I want you to love and be loved
To take and to give

Cuz When I die, when I die
I want you to live
I just want you to live

In posting these, I make no attempts to judge or to, in any way, minimize the tragedies of 9/11 and all of our contemporary wars.  I have simply been scouring the Scriptures for God’s truth and seeking His heart on the matter.  I realize that this list is not exhaustive, but these are verses that I believe cannot be ignored in light of all the events occurring in our world.


17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

– Romans 12:17-21


17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,

– Proverbs 24:17


43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

– Matthew 5:43-48


11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

– Ezekiel 33:11



Posted: 10/22/2010 in Poetry
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This is a sonnet I wrote a few years ago.  It’s pretty much the only sonnet I’ve ever written, but I thought that since the days are getting colder, leaves are falling, and it is actually October, this might be appropriate.  Enjoy and thanks for reading!

October brings a sudden shift of change
as trees begin to hide from winter winds
The leaves their colors alter, rearrange.
A season plaguing death and love begins.

For passion moves in orange, brown and red,
Like fire burning flames upon the tops.
In breeze they dance a dance to touch the dead
And separate from limbs. They leap to drop.

Descend in brilliant flutters, twists and turns
to free the soul and lift a final cry
And lay in silence. All around you burns
to melt and mend as one. As one you die.

The season soon will turn to winter, spring.
From death in love, a life anew will bring.