Guest Post: Sorrow and Song, by Mark Bennion

Listen to “Sorrow and Song” by Mark Bennion


That morning you came to me
I saw the lamp arising in your beard,
a flash of iron and fire
wisping in your robes and hair

dreams full in your mouth like jamid
and your gait uneven on the hardest soil.
I thought I knew what you were about to say,
how sweat and sand would become our clothing,

how silt and thirst would cut
amidst the walking and walking, how we’d
migrate like dunes, carrying the memory
of limestone, rain, and bazaars.

How you said, Jerusalem will burn
until the ash pits rise like mountains
and remnants will be carried away like wood:
that celebratory yet somber look

stung in your eye, your frame shaking
at your own obedience. Together
we swung and fell in this desert refuge,
witnessed our sons turn to tempests,

hunts, lies. The belief that our names,
perhaps, were stamped to tribal codes;
we, the outlaws of Manasseh, plodding past
Aqaba, finding meat in wadis, our flocks
as lost as we were, but submitting
still to the crisping, wilderness sun. How
God chose us to leave when Zephaniah,
Ezekiel and Habakkuk stayed behind,

left to time’s or the dungeon’s swifter,
less fruitful fate. Eight years later we knew
the scorpions, the serpents, the vultures
hovering about; we understood the ruah,
the deadening of salt, the trap-catch between
Jewish pearls and promised land, the
flair of an oasis and the heat stroke
of even the smallest mirage.
Such vassals we were to exile and need,
to passion flourishing in this barren
landscape. The new beginning of sons €”
our concluding harvest €”the lengthening of days

bound to the sea’s endlessness, the energy
of something greener, something more
bountiful and destructive, something more
miraculous than Moses’ call

to the Red Sea. Forgive me, Lehi,
for my complaint and hardness.
I thought I saw the end
as you believed in our beginning.

Praise me, Lehi, for my denial
and acceptance, for my quiet confidence
in a goat-haired tent. You confessed
the vision as I believed the implication

of leaving shekels, pulse, and friendship
for the tough yet merciful cup of prophecy,
the line given to us in our journey
through this burnt offering, unexpected life.

jamid:   a hard round food containing goat’s cheese, grass, and various herbs.
wadis:    usually dry river beds, except during the rainy season.

ruah:   Hebrew word for wind, intellect, or spirit.

This poem originally appeared in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought vol. 38, no. 2, Summer 2005. It recently was published in  Mark’s poetry collection Psalm & Selah: a poetic journey through the Book of Mormon [Parables Press, 2009].

For another of Mark’s poems and his bio, go here.


Taking what is not offered: Guest post by greenfrog

[Greenfrog, aka Sean,  is a piquant  concoction of Mormonism, Buddhism, and Lawyerism living in the Denver, Colorado area.  He  describes himself as an amphibious creature who  “breathes Mormon air and swims Buddhist waters, both quite happily.”  I became acquainted with him  through his  comments on posts at A Motley Vision.  Field notes he contributed to some of my posts (see here, and  here, scroll down) at Times and Seasons  further singled him out to my eye as an engaging writer, able  to bring words and place together.  “Taking what is not offered” is cross-posted  here from  his blog, In Limine: On the Threshold, at the Beginning.]  


During a recent meditation retreat, the other participants and I each undertook to live by the five Buddhist training precepts during our time there. One of those precepts is this:

For the purposes of training, I will not take anything that is not offered to me.

This is a common sense rule for those who will live in close proximity to one another — no €œborrowing € your roommate’s shampoo, no swiping someone else’s flip flops. It’s a basic principle that is embedded in social systems everywhere — in the yoga tradition as the niyama of asteya — non-stealing. God told Moses a version of the same thing. Continue reading “Taking what is not offered: Guest post by greenfrog”

Welcome to Wilderness Interface Zone

There’s something  about  walking out of the desert or other wild or marginally wild area that you don’t  get walking into it.   Something  that you feel in  your return to others sharing the fire or that comes from sliding into  your vehicle to head home at the end of a hike or campout.   Something about completing the journey on foot, walking through the front door, closing the circuit. Continue reading “Welcome to Wilderness Interface Zone”