Thursday, March 5, 2009


Last week I heard this poem read by a worship leader (a former English professor of mine) as part of a Sunday morning service. How often does contemporary poetry find its way into the pulpit? I don't remember exactly how this was woven into the theme, but for me it struck a resonant cord (or chord; choose your metaphor).

Blessed are the poor in spirit

I am not made to pray. I close my eyes
and float among the spots behind my lids.
I chew the name God, God, like habitual
gum, think about dusting the shelves, then sleep.

It is hard to speak to the capital LORD
who deals in mountains and seas, not in a woman
rewashing her mildewed laundry while scolding
her toddler through gritted teeth. I should

escape to the closet and kneel to the holy
singularity who blasted my cells from a star.
I should imagine the blood soaking
into the cross's grain, plead forgiveness

for splintering my child's soul. But the words
never find their way out of the dark.
Choirs and candles shine in his bones
while I doze at the door of his body.

Tania Runyan
--from CHRISTIAN CENTURY, March 10, 2009


  1. Hi--Okay, so in a moment of vanity I googled myself and found this! I'm intrigued, not so much because my poem was read, but because a poem was read from the pulpit. I've been bringing poetry into my church and am in the process of trying to find out how other people have been integrating poetry into worship services. What church read the poem? Is this something that happens often there? I would love any information you can give, as a friend and I are thinking about compiling some ideas. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for your poem! I prefer not to include any identifying information on my blog, but if you give me a way to contact you directly, I'll be glad to share information.--ME

  3. I like this poem very much, despite it not rhyming (which I would normally say disqualifies it from being poetry). "I chew the name God, God, like habitual
    gum, think about dusting the shelves, then sleep" perfectly describes my childhood struggle to pray. Now I listen for the God that prays to me, and it is easier to stay awake.