I Am the Poem

It’s not too late to order a copy of the current issue, XXX/1 (Nov/Dec 2014/Jan 2015) “A Monastery without Walls,” honoring the 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s birth as well as our founding editor, John S. Mogabgab, upon his passing August 8, 2014. Call 1.800.972.0433 or subscribe online.


walt-whitmanA friend asked me recently, “How do you churn these out?”

He was referring to the prayer-poems I offer on my blog.

My response was something like, “I don’t churn so much as I light a candle, drink some strong coffee, read someone else’s holy words and then write my own.”

Walt Whitman said, “…and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…”

I am a poem. Powerful. And true.

Here are a few early Advent contemplations from my Advent Poetry Project.


December 6

On this day of hope – hope for things seen and unseen – hope for small things and big ones – hope for a friend to feel comfortable and loved – hope for productive hands and settled hearts – hope for safety and peace – for loved ones and all ones – hope for kindness and smiles – hope for open ears, hearts, minds. On this day of hope – all the things hoped for, all the things burning, all the things You know we feel – take these as our prayers. Take these as our praise. Take these as our offerings on this day of hope. Amen.


December 7

A throbbing heart

is still a heart.

A broken soul

is still a soul.

A fractured spirit

is still a spirit.

A tired body

is still a body.

And if there ever was a


for throbbing




minds bodies spirits




December 8

Holy One of Peace – something we do not know much of – something that seems foreign and odd – take us to those places of calm, quiet refuge in our memories, and keep us there. When the dog and the children cuddle with blankets on the couch. When the stranger on the street corner has a name and is a stranger no more. When he reaches for his partner’s hand in marriage. When she lights a candle for mercy.

Holy One of Peace – something we do not know much of – something that seems foreign and odd – take us to Peace. Keep us safe there. So safe that we become willing to risk it all so others might know Peace, too. Amen.


Oh, this birthing, this expectancy, this bursting into the dark, cold night!

Oh, this coming, this beckoning, this Spirit and this Life!

Oh, what majesty, what mystery, what grace!

You make your home with us here!


God, you know every

nook and cranny

of our bodies.

You know those places

tight with tension,

loose with love.

God, meet us here –

in the tight, loose and

in between.

Meet us here,

in our bodies,

so we may know


Claire McKeever-Burgett is Program Interpretation Manager for Upper Room Ministries in Nashville, Tennessee, helping to tell The Upper Room’s stories in compelling ways. She is an ordained Alliance of Baptist pastor and writes often at pastorpoet.com. Her article “Offering” appears in the current issue on page 43.

Leave a Reply

Web Statistics