Sunday, November 18, 2018

ready for winter

Do you see every brittle twig
fallen on the forest floor,
the great fields,
stripped just after harvest,
frozen under the snow,
earth’s back bared,
waiting for the blade’s cut?
My spotless window
killed the finch midflight;
I know because I’m looking at her,
still, fallen and cold,
called before her time.
I know; I saw what happened.
Do you see?
Do you care?
When you prepare for winter,
do you collect or purge?


ready for winter
by troy cady

Monday, November 12, 2018

Jeremiah, the prophet. Today.

Jeremiah, the prophet. Today.
by troy cady

sometimes I feel
like the best I have to give
will never be good enough.

I’m tired, Lord.
I’m tired of letting others down.
I’m tired of being misunderstood.
I’m tired of the criticism.

You know what I’m thinking, Lord:
“What’s the point? Why bother?
No matter what I do,
no matter what I attempt,
I fall short.
So, why keep trying?”

I give up, Lord.
I’m tired of trying.
I’m tired of crying.
I’m just tired, Lord.


Who am I
and where are you?
What do you want me to do?
Do I have any gift to offer others,
anything that blesses
without causing offense?

I feel exposed, Lord—
like I’m surrounded
by those who
smile when I see them
but scoff otherwise.
I’ve no one to turn to, Lord.
I’ve no one to trust.

Is this my calling, Lord?
I felt certain in the past,
but now I’m not so sure.
I feel like a fool.


My friend said I may need
to make a home
in the sadness
for a while,
to stay with it
for a season.

And I suppose that was you speaking, Lord.

In that case,
I want to ask you, I need some insight:
“Is this what it feels like
to be ready for one final winter?
Tell me, because I don’t know
and I want to feel something,
I want to care
about crying in the darkness.
Tell me, because I don’t want
to set myself up
for one last death
much, much too early.”


Sunday, November 11, 2018

a prayer to be hidden

my prayer to you today
is not that I would be popular,
not that I would gain fame,
but that I would just be faithful.

I am your servant;
do as much or as little
with me as you wish.
I trust that you know
what is best for me
and for others.

I ask not for comfort and security;
instead, I ask for strength to endure
whatever challenges come my way.

I lay down my desire
to be esteemed;
I bend my knees
and bow down
before you alone—
make me humble.

I pray my words
would be like seeds from your hand;
help me sow in the hope that your work
may take root in good soil,
with no demand of outcome,
just hope and trust
that you will tend the growth patiently
and gather the harvest joyfully.

Whether you place me
in the company
of the world’s great or small
is not my concern;
just make me poor in spirit,
make me a child.
I can do nothing apart from you;
I am nothing apart from you.
I hide myself in you.
Help me be happy to be hidden
that others may see
more of you and
less of me.


a prayer to be hidden
by troy cady

Friday, November 2, 2018

will spring return?

Your love is the ground;
heart, may your roots
go deeper.

Your grace, my food;
soul, turn your face
to the light
and flourish.

Your delight, my colors;
may my life
bring you joy,
reflect your beauty.

Your Spirit is like the wind;
I cannot see you,
but I can see and feel
what you are doing—
I can hear your voice,
gently saying, “Let go.”

Like leaves in autumn, I fall.
I can no longer hold on.
Help me trust
the work of humility;
be my strength
this vulnerable winter;
preserve my life;
help me rest in simplicity;
love, be my ground,
for I am at turns
certain and uncertain
I will survive to see
spring’s return.


will spring return?
by troy cady

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

when was it

remind me again
what happened
because i forget.

when was it
he threw you
down the stairs
and kicked you
in the side?

when did we leave home
and how long was the drive?

when were you lost,
in need of shelter,
and the door was locked
to you?

when was
that neglect?

when did she
pull the plug
on leaving him
and why?

when was it
we had no food and
when did i go
to fetch water
for the soiled toilet—
where was that?

when did i hear
her yelling in pain
from the blows—
and at what time
that night was i kept
from stabbing him?

when did you leave
and return
and leave again—
and how long
did i ache,

when did i
jump on the bed
and when did he
slap my face senseless?

when did he drink
and when did he stop?

was i there then?
where am i now,
still without you?
when did these tears start
and when will they stop?
when will i see you again?
when will I see you again?

is this ache?


when was it
by troy cady

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Queen Sabbath in recovery

Queen Sabbath
was in her palace in time
last week, relishing the shade
of the Tree of Life—
the holy of holies—
where the goal
is not to have but to be,
not to own but to give,
not to control but to share,
not to subdue but to be in accord.

Vulnerable in her mature innocence,
she sang sweetly to the children
growing inside her
when the knowledge of evil
came near,
stuck a gun barrel up her vagina
and pulled the trigger.

Today, she’s in recovery,
mourning her loss,
but still alive
by some miracle—
the unquenchable desire
of the Lover for her Beloved,
and the children’s
returned attachment,
suckling at her breast.

The seeds of souls deceased,
now scattered in our hearts,
will fertilize her possibilities,
find rich soil in her uterine wall,
grow strong lungs
and—in time—wail loudly
these now-silent cries.

Meanwhile, the absurd restless
look to presidents and politicians,
star athletes, actors and actresses—
those who have taught them
to have, own, control and subdue.
They respond to interviews
with stillborn soundbites—
saying, “Be strong.”
But tomorrow
they will carry on
acquiring temporary wealth,
nursing the knowledge of evil,
arming and pulling the trigger,
then comforting afterward.

Still the restless put their hope
in these jesters of Eliot’s wasteland.

Queen Sabbath,
may we remain by your side.
Pull us close,
wounded Bride.
Forgive us and lavish us
with kisses.
Taste our tears
falling on your lips.
Feel our heaving, gasping bodies,
laying by your breast—
praying, “Heal.”


Queen Sabbath in recovery
by troy cady

*words in italics are from Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2005), 3 and 12.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

in praise of courageous women: a prayer of the matriarchs

Art by Mary Therese Streck. "Miriam Leading the Women Across the Sea"

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking on the exodus. We often associate Moses with the account, but in my study of the text, I discovered a through-line of courageous and inspired women that play just as prominently in the story as Moses.

First, two midwives named Shiphrah and Puah defy the mighty Pharaoh by sparing Moses’ life.

Then, Moses’ mother Jochebed and sister Miriam, hide him away in the Nile (the river in which he was supposed to be terminated).

Then, the Pharaoh’s daughter rescues him and gives him his name, which means “drawn out.” She named him thus because she “drew him out” of the water.

Years later, when Moses is on the way to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go, Moses’ wife Zipporah saves his life.

Finally, once the Israelites have passed through the Red Sea, Miriam has the last word in the celebration. She is referred to as a prophet in the text.

Thus, the first major section of Exodus is presented to us through a literary device known as an inclusio, where a text ends on the same note by which it began. Just as courageous women inaugurated the new life God was bringing into the world by the birth of Moses, so a group of courageous and inspired women (led by Miriam) celebrated the new life God brought into the world with the birth of the nation Israel. From first to last, then, the exodus is a story about women just as much as it is a story about Moses (if not more!).  

Christians often refer to the patriarchs when articulating the high points of salvation history. We note  the common expression: “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And we add people like Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and David to such a list.

But the fact is: the book of Exodus also skillfully reminds us that, without the actions of courageous and inspired women, there would have been no patriarch like Moses.

Because of that, when I spoke weeks ago, I concluded my sermon with a prayer devoted to these incredible women. I call it “The Prayers of the Matriarchs.”[i] I invite you to pray it with me.

God of Jochebed,
give us ears to hear
the pain of those crying out
all around us,
those who are burdened
with the threat that the new life
that has been growing inside them
will be taken and murdered
by forces beyond their control.

God of Shiphrah and Puah,
give us courage,
make us willing to lose our lives
for the sake of the new life
you are birthing.
Make us midwives
of what you are bringing forth.

God of Miriam,
make us prophets,
give us a new song,
set our feet to dancing
the dance of freedom,
move us to the joyful work,
the worship-work of liberation.

God of Pharaoh’s daughter,
help us to see that those
we think don’t know or revere you
can surprise us with their recognition of you
by the way they live and cherish life.
Help us not to see others
from an “us-and-them” place,
but send us to be present,
to see what you are already doing in the world,
and to look for, and cooperate with,
the way you deliver by name.


[i] Regrettably, the prayer does not include a section on Zipporah. This is because I did not have time in my sermon to talk about the Zipporah scene, so when I concluded it would have been confusing to my original listeners to add a line about her. Perhaps later I will add a Zipporah section in the prayer, but for now, I think you get the gist of it!