Conrad Martin: Unitarian Impressions

The church smelled of high deism in late autumn.
Spare architecture, austere and utterly decent,
tinged with muted hues from the East.
Bouquet of grasses, pale flowers,
table symmetrical with candles,
and a square pipe organ array
under a reasonable white cornice.

Words spoken there were shaped
like the warmth of friendship and community circles,
but the living thoughts within the words—
begging to draw me with them
upward through sweeping vaults and then higher
through a sky-deep spire, and then yet higher—
instead found the corners of the flat ceiling, traveled
sideways within themselves,
dropped again to the pews,
dissolving back into the shapes of the words that raised them.

A favorite granddaughter had died—fresh shadows
in a grandfather’s graying heart.
He spoke of it there,
and life and death itself
within those broken words trembled out
and rose into the space,
found the corners of the flat ceiling,
fell back,
and the priests spoke
the shapes of the words.

The words had become the people who spoke them,
and I found I did not like them.
They were strange—
strange as I am to myself—
now twice alone.

We ate a meal together.
Our words were of landscapes,
grape salad,
white-water,
red-rock,
hunger


portrait on brickConrad Martin loves words for their ability to create deeper awareness and experience of life through connection between minds and hearts.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Literature Camp 2019

Friends,

This summer, we are hosting a literature seminar at a beautiful mansion in Franklin, PA. The seminar will provide opportunities for readers and writers of literature to meet and to hear from people who have put time and thought into what the arts mean to us as Anabaptists. We have asked a range of Anabaptist authors, thinkers, and students of literature to present various topics, and there will be opportunities to connect to others who are interested in the arts. For more information, see our page for the Literature Camp.

We hope to see you there!
The Curator staff

Claudia Lehman: For Eowyn

The songs are written for the things that shine:
the blades unsheathed and raised by righteous men;
the truth spoken in time; dark gates struck down;
golden gifts given, tokens friend to friend.

Yet what of those invisible? —breath, love,
the iron absence of those gone to fight,
and you, shield-maiden. Unknown guardian
of all your love loves—shadowed by his light,
your part may be the loneliness of war,
without their fierce friendship forged in fire,
without the tang of risk, the hope of praise.
You count the days and stars, your one desire
to match your strength with theirs. Is not your blood
as kingly as their own? Yet dawn’s gold curve
finds courage pressed again to tenderness,
poured out as sacred wine for those you serve.

Oh, unseen woman, waiting in the gates,
as the banners of your fathers are unfurled,
your mail-veiled quietness defies the dark
as bright as any sword drawn in this world.


IMG-1549Claudia Lehman lives in Paltinis, Romania, with her favorite poet, Kyle. She loves teaching, old books, Earl Grey tea, wildflowers, her comfort zone, and a mongrel puppy called Alice.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Poetry reading, 3/2

Friends,

The Curator will be holding a poetry reading and discussion in Harrisburg, PA, this Saturday. We will hold the reading at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore & Café. The Midtown Scholar is full of a wonderful selection of used books, but we hope you’ll come for the poetry as well.

The reading will be on Saturday the 2nd of March, between 6 and 8 PM. Please stop by and listen to some poetry or take part in the discussion! Better yet, bring a poem or story to read, or a question to discuss. The Midtown Scholar is at 1302 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA. There is parking across the street.

See you there,
The Curator staff

Kenneth Godoy: Drawn Onward

Drawn onward to God
as onward to Goodness,
the child, who rejected
his father now returns home,

and this is inevitable: for
the shivering fish that drowns
in thin air must return, must
return to the stream; or the fire

that needs to consume must
be fed lest it die, lest it wane.
Drawn downward and onward
to God. (2) Am I to blame, then

for the sins of my innocence?
The sins that writhe beyond
memory’s reach? Is the child a
slave to the cycles of sinning?

Is the man he becomes a debtor
from birth to the sin and the sinning?
Am I ashamed of my childhood?
Or am I condemned for having been born?

The fire has no fingers to feed on its own
and the fish has no feet and no will
to come from the river and go. The
son has no choice but to sin and

come crawling, come crawling again,
sucking his knuckles and pleading
and screaming and weeping,
give me this rest, grant me that peace.

I am that fish, that fire,
that unending son who
always returns and in
returning, kneels

and kisses the father,
desiring nothing—only
the (3) black, sweet goodness
of not having been born.


From the poet:

This poem was inspired by the reading of Augustine’s Confessions, a book wherein Augustine attempts to understand his past by diagnosing himself as sinful from birth. But sin is an evil action produced in free will, the same way that worship is a good produced in free will. If free will is taken away, then sin or any action a human being does is not truly and freely his or her own; rather, humans become buffeted and controlled by God, who chooses for them to be born in sin until ultimately (if He chooses) God draws the child back to himself and thereby saves the child of sin. While Augustine did admit blame for the sins of his youth, yet inevitably, I believe the full extent of his teaching leads humans to believe that they were only born in sin and had no choice in the matter. The voice of this poem is essentially a response to the view that humans are born with original sin, showing that if I were drawn to God without my free will, my worship would not be genuine before God, because it would be robotic.


kenny Of his writing, Kenneth Godoy says, “Poetry is bound to my soul.”


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Lynn Michael Martin: If I Should Pass With Sorrows

If I should pass with sorrows,
and softly slip away
with the first gray gleam of the morning
of a gently dawning day;
if I should see no sunrise,
nor watch the night be gone,
tell me, when you meet me tomorrow
of the rising of the sun.

He it was whose face I studied
through the long cold hours of night,
as the lonely dark crept nearer,
and the wind had stilled my light.
For I feared I should not linger
until the night were gone,
or see the light’s first fire
at the rising of the sun.

If I should pass with sorrows,
and so should slip away,
remember the fleeing shadow
and the sun of the deathless day!
For I shall not bow to darkness
while the night is but half-gone—
while I wait for the songs of the triumph
of the rising of the sun.


Lynn Michael Martin bw Lynn Martin believes that the essence of the universe is joy, and that in poetry there should shine both the earth’s joy and a light from beyond the world.


Photography by Zachary Pierce

Daniel Hess: My Mother Heart

My mother-heart is bleeding dry
but beating still. Pounding on a silent door.
The knocking makes no noise. No sounding
echo through my still, retreating
soul. Like noiseless waves, my wounded heart
ebbs back to sea once more.

My hopeful womb is stunned with grief,
shielded though it was by fear
shattered, my timid dreams
helpless, my tear
Cruel life! I only wanted love, not pain
like this! I wanted pain that mattered

But nothing matters now, I think
I’m numb. But if I cease to swim, I’ll sink
so come, sit quietly with me
and weep. Look not at me with pity,
just help me look my sorrow in the eye
and let my Father give the answer why.


IMG_1638 (2) Daniel Hess is a disciple of Jesus, husband of Laura, and father of four who likes discovering the ordinary.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Conrad Martin: This Side Jabbok

You are patient.
But I am endless.
Drawn line and twisted
red gold to a
wick of your ecstasy.

You are not fair.
You are not there, and yet Your endlessness is fire
and pain as a mind in color.

I am out-thought,
inwhelmed, unverbed, and understood.
(Jabbok lies unsilent)
defense undone,
resistance is become the violence of Your glory,
Your conquest my obedient rebellion,
Your dear, sweet conquering—won,
(how Jabbok roars)
Your truest, truly,
(now is red)
unruly Yours.


portrait on brick

Conrad Martin loves words for their ability to create deeper awareness and experience of life through connection between minds and hearts.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Daniel Lowry: Go Climb a Tree

There it stands,
overlooking the swollen river
and sun-drenched field,
a straight-spined black maple
with well-spaced branches.
It beckons with leafy hands
Come and be my guest.

The nearest branch sprouts beyond your reach,
so wrap your arms around the rain-slicked trunk
and try to shinny up,
but the rough mark plows into your chest.
The dampness peels your hands
right off the slippery cork.

But when I was a child
I could do this;
I conquered sterner trees;
planted my flag atop dizzier summits.
Take a step back.
See? That branch angles down its arm
at some little distance from the trunk
to lend a hand.

Pause a minute.
Let your panting subside.
Then, taking that hand,
reel yourself along the bough
like a cable car
until you reach the trunk.
Grunt and pull yourself astride.
From there it’s easy.

Let the exertion waken you;
the panting is glorious;
let the sweat and dirt cleanse you.
With a downward look,
the earth sprawls away,
plunging you upward,
oxygenating your blood with tiny gasps of innocence.

Perch high amid the green stratosphere of peace
beyond the reach of mosquitoes and Pandora’s curse
like a little child
climbed into the lap of Christ.

But must I descend again?
Must I return my heels to the groveling ground?
Here the nuthatch nods;
here innocence rests.
But this rest is not forever,
and when you stand on earth once more,
examine your scrapes with a smile:
for until you heal, you bear on your skin
the mark of serenity,
the woodcut of grace.
Go climb a tree.


img_20180715_165827_051

Daniel Lowry hails from West Virginia, where he enjoys quiet things such as books, the woods, and the night.

Rebecca Weber: Worship at Dawn

I watch the clear exuberance of praise
That reaches up with fingers of delight
And spills across the waking world, resolved
To overthrow the tyranny of night.

I walk into the sunrise, arms upraised
To shield my eyes from overflowing light.
Still higher soars the glory, till the haze
Is lost in ringing luminance of white.


s&i on trip etc 593

Rebecca Weber lives in the scenic province of Nova Scotia and delights in finding the extraordinary in the everyday, writing about her discoveries, and learning to show the compassion of Christ to the people around her.


Photography by Nancy Kautz