MEDITATIONS ON A PASTOR'S
FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS
occasion of Pastor Ron Marshall's
Forty years as an ordained pastor
1. MY WAY
My path to salvation had merit.
Under two, and over 80.
In years. Yes.
Babies and old people.
They saved me
from the men.
The women died
and babies grew up.
I found old books
and monks. I read
I had been to Hell.
Then I heard
a man from Estonia
call Dante's Hell
a pleasure palace.
What to do? What to do?
It's not necessary
to walk through
gulags to know
I found what
I needed to know
in the living room.
2. Email to Ron 3 February 2019
From now on there will be no new prayers. They've all been
written, the old monk tells Arvo Pärt. From now on, it's all preparation. Dear
Ron, may nothing I say ever come from my head. May every word come from the inarticulate
breath of me knocking on your door. I have learned so many practical, no
scratch all that out, saying thank you is, well--those two guys of yours,
Martin Luther and Soren Kierkegaard--that you gave them to your
congregation--that you thought that much of them, it's so, so beautiful is what
it is, that you thought that much of your people. This should be in a letter
not an email.
BTW I found you in West Seattle looking on the
internet--your name came up somehow pertaining to the martyrs in El Salvador.
3. LETTER TO PASTOR
ON THE 40TH YEAR OF HIS ORDINATION
From the suffering in the pew, laughter.
When the door opens accept the offering.
The framed portrait of Martin Luther crossing time.
Mysterious credibility and the cursing of false prayers.
Now we enter the strange world of pastors
tight in their collars, the ironed ones.
Necks looking for a way out.
Called by Committee to atone.
Nuns say Father only cares about the collar,
then laugh at pastors
who only know chapter and verse.
Say 40 and yawn. Young guys
talk beer, big bottles. 40s.
Pop songs. Beer tarts. Footnotes.
40 days and 40 nights. 40 years.
Refugees in margins and poor.
Footnotes in history you've been looking for.
Praise edges. Approach the abyss.
Pastor makes home visits.
Margin and Footnote hanging out.
Knowing Luther and Kierkegaard.
What surprises most?
Where ever the gospel is preached.
What would we have done without the devil?
Reading outside the Bible
where parables come from.
Cartoons in parables.
Of Kierkegaard. Of Luther:
Luther first. What to do about Psalm 82: 2-4?
Luther says write these lines in your room,
over your bed, on your desk, and on your clothes.
Give justice to the weak.
Deliver them from the hands of the wicked.
Liberate us from narrow-mindedness.
We have carried around this cup of darkness
like a man anointing himself Bly said.
He was walking into El Salvador
on his way out of a Minnesota snow field.
Is there anything you want, his father asked.
Yes, a complete set of Kierkegaard's journals.
Be thou my vision, Van Morrison.
I'm not there either. Look for me in 1969.
Tell me what you see. Whose son are you?
Let's open our Korans.
Richard Hugo knew West Marginal Way.
Ideas are smarter than corruption.
Richard Blessing didn't say that,
but he stood for it. He stood right here.
We know it's not classical gas.
Who knows if it's true?
That question will come up.
Kierkegaard's yes and no.
That one no, a yes.
This is meditation on the Mountain.
High Camp in the Cascades.
A temple of windows and crossed panes.
An office to ski to.
6000 feet elevation.
Slurping noodles, hearing your big laugh.
4. P.S. I fought over use of wilderness
or pulpit in the title. I left it.
But here, at the end of a poem, there's privacy, and room to talk. The only
pulpit in literature that looks like yours, is Father Mapple's pulpit, in Moby
Dick--and he gives one hell of a sermon on Jonah and the Whale--In this world, shipmates, sin that pays
its way can travel freely, and without a passport; whereas Virtue, is a pauper,
is stopped at all frontiers--his only access is to climb the rope
ladder--red worsted man ropes--hand made by one of the women. Once safe inside,
on board you might say, he hauls the rope in after him. Makes a man want to
replace those cushioned pews with benches.
28 January--3 February 2019
Statement for Ordination
Pastor Ron Marshall picks up the phone, visits the sick, and
opens the door. He is the mediator who spans the chasm which divides. He does
this by trusting his people with a full gospel, which amounts to truckloads of
what is real. In the study and practice of his calling, one can witness that he
is not interested in colonizing the faith. His deep laughter affirms us in our
daily walk, rejecting what is false to our own experience, giving us confidence
in our worship.
4 February 2019