Poems of Faith, 1996 – 1997


As a child
I danced with the wind,
The desert wind,
Wild and free.

As years passed,
Still the wind
Raised my spirits,
Comforted me.

Then whirled within
Your Spirit,
Love's blessings
To impart.

Now, full-entwined,
You dance with me
Bright Wind
In my heart!

The Final Scream
by Janet Foldvary

It is finished
You hung on the Cross beaten bloodied racked killed,
And John says You said It is finished.
But I hear screams, screams from all around our world.
Your brothers and sisters beaten, bloodied, racked, killed.
By distant men of power commanding oppression, demanding duty.
As you did so to these ... you did so to me.

How many chiefs used the best of their wits to devise
The scourge to tear, rip, and damage, proud of their work?
And the soldiers proud of their work too.
Cold duty — not rage, not lust, not fear.
Today how many men use the best of their wits to devise,
To use every knowledge that science gained by Adam’s sons,
Twisted into abuse against the Spirit’s temple?
You did so to me, and you do so to Me still.

Thick prison walls where the sun cannot go
Hide outrages, horrors beyond the telling, beyond the bearing.
Thick dark walls, barb-wired,
Razor wired, coiled atop and around,
Coiled all around — our world — to the Cross — around the Cross.
Coiled atop and around Your head,
Razor-wire thorns, from the earth and the work of human hands.

No, John is wrong; it is not finished.
We have still not heard
The final scream.


The thin, troubled woman tried to get money
Was her story true or her best effort
Was she now off the street with a new job and new home
But needing fare between them until first paycheck
Or was that the way to claim no agency charity would help

She knew all the angles
Had been everywhere I suggested and had a rejection story
A good story accounting for each one
And they made sense I think but maybe too much sense
And she talked of her child and foster care and having her back now

And I had money mine to give and never mentioned it
That I might spend no better than she would and maybe worse
And finally she gave up and left asking me to wish her luck
And I prayed for her knowing I would pray for her whether she was lying or not
So why didn't I give her money whether she was lying or not?


If I pray for it
Courage will be given me
So I'm afraid to

Weak in sight and love
I see a little clearer
With tears in my eyes


Flutter-by pretty butterfly velvet black and white
Little Janet in springtime is maybe 3 or 4
And catches the gentle trusting thing.
Her father happens out into the warming sunlight
And smiles a little as she lets it go free.

Encouraged, the girl openly reports, "I pulled off its legs!"
She is only puzzled by the pained father's reproach
And offers "But it has wings; it can fly!"
Hearing the sad truth, the horrified child remains unconsoled
Though forevermore conscientiously gentle.

. . .

Many springtimes later, in a difficult year, a difficult marriage
She takes her husband by the hand to see the budding season
She was surprised by.
Velvet black and white flutters by, and away, and they watch
Mesmerized in a child's moment hand-in-hand.

Then like dream-sound so loud it awakens
Are words clearly heard from nearby, to her alone:
"If you wish, you can call the butterfly."
And with those words from great depths of stillness
Comes an absolute KNOWING this truth. 

Assured and delighted, she holds out her hand toward the distance
And softly says "Come."
"Janet, you can't call a butterfly!" exclaims her husband.
"No? Watch!" she smiles. And the flutterer turns from afar
And makes the distance back, to sit on her outstretched fingers.


After she happily let the butterfly go free
The small child smiled, "I pulled off his legs."
At the unexpected reaction, she explained most logically,
"He doesn't need legs; he has wings. He can fly!"

The lesson that cost the world a night-cloak in spring
Was not about cruelty, either innocent or knowing.
The lesson was about the thoughtless thinking
That the powerful understand the needs of the powerless.

And the sadness is not that we wince at the fate of the butterfly
But that we do not wince that the lesson is still unlearned.


Angels danced around your bed,
Rejoicing in your Grace.
My wondering heart your Spirit led
Just gazing on your face.
Your eyes a-spark like glowing dew;
How blest I am in knowing you!



Turning from prayer –
I did not want to stop to write this, nor to do anything else!
While at first my prayer was not close,
But more like telling God what I would tell God in prayer
For what and for whom I wished to pray,
It then became more conversational, with awareness of the ‛attitude' from God,
And then without seeking it I was in a sweet dark embrace-place,
Like making love with God. So much like it that I wanted to writhe,
Lean my head back in silent, joyful laughter.
And any thoughts, when mind-spoke, had to be mind-shouted as though wrenched out,
Like shouting to a lover "I love you!"
This continued for a while, and not drawn back from ...
Then, still not released, I picked up my pen,
Turning from prayer
To write in the afterglow.


The prayer was
Awareness of in-Christ and of of-Christ
Extending to and flowing with and praying for friends
Without words or specifics or thoughts.
This time/space was given to me;
I didn't struggle to ‛achieve' anything;
I just asked to pray.
I was saying Thank You ...
For the day's little things,
For human interchange, for the Mass, for touch of Nature, for work completed,
Even for the joyful fun of the 11th inning of the 7th game of the World Series,
And was left in tender joy and fullness of heart.


I think this is a new feeling.
I don't want to go back to redo any part of my life anymore.
Not that I'm satisfied with who I am and where I am and how I am,
But I only want to be here now.
The Web of Life, this Great Tapestry our little stitches are creating unseen,
Is much too complex to risk changing ...

Weave on, Holy Weaver!


    I make up in my own body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ
    Col 1:24

What could Paul mean?
What was lacking in the sufferings of Christ?

I have heard it said "Certainly many have suffered worse torture."
And also, I have heard fanciful descriptions of rather magical
Pain greater than anyone else has known
(As though pain were the essence of torture anyhow).
And I remember hearing that Christ was also suffering
All the sins of Humankind (including yours)
we could not understand.

We miss the point.

Jesus suffered in all ways: emotional, mental, spiritual, physical.
And showed us how to suffer it.
It doesn't matter if it's more or less than anyone else.
The very human Jesus suffered greatly, suffered Enough.

But the Redemptive Suffering of Christ continues
Today ... through us, with us, in us ... in Christ,
Until the Kingdom of God is fully realized
In Christ
And in Us.


What do I mean when I say I love God? St. Augustine gave an answer to this question in his Confessions. Yet, however beautifully written and translated, it was not, I will brazenly state, a true answer to the question, but rather a most articulate description of the consolation of perceiving the Presence of God.

So what do I mean when I say I love God? Not too long ago I questioned in prayer whether I do indeed love God. Here is the answer to that prayer:

I love God when I judge and correct my actions, my words, and my fantasies in light of my understanding of God's preference and guidance.
I love God when I work to understand what God prefers, when I pray to understand what God prefers.
I love God when I see the force of the Creator in the beauty of the Earth and the Heavens.
I love God when I rejoice and give thanks for knowing beauty.
I love God when I rejoice and give thanks for life, feeling, music, dancing, fellowship, all that is human good.
I love God when I acknowledge all my prayers are heard, all my prayers are answered.
I love God when I recognize God's fulfilling answers to prayers.
I love God when I say, "But if it's Your will, OK."
I love God when I long to pray, to commune with God, to be with God, to know more of God.
I love God when I treasure memories of wondrous consolations.
I love God when I treasure and rejoice in consolations given to others.
I love God when I realize and rejoice that I have been used by God.
I love God when I laugh with delight at serendipity and other Godly jokes.
I love God when I understand and accept chastisement, and when I treasure the memory of such direct chastisement.
I love God when I trust that I am loved and that I am free, and that all is, ultimately, OK.
I love God when I trust that everyone is free to -- even required to -- honestly question tenets and practices and authority.
I love God when I call "Loving Parent."
I love God when I trust God's justice, when I know that what God does is just, and therefore OK; even should God condemn or destroy me, I know it would be just, and right, and OK.
I love God when words from a Godly scripture or liturgy or song move me to tears -- or to dancing.
I love God when I see equalities before God as reflected in our mathematical understanding of infinities and the inequalities of infinitives -- and think it's fun.
I love God when I see the old words reflected in new theory, such as 'Let there be light' and the 'Big Bang'.
I love God when I know that what I know of God is right, yet not accurate.
I love God when each day I dedicate the day and my life and self to God.
I love God when I quiet my thoughts, just to stand in the Stillness, only because I remember, realize, and rejoice that God is here.

I love Christ when I see Christ in each person I watch or talk with.
I love Christ when I see us all in Christ.
I love Christ when I pray the meaning of 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us' as 'forgive all of us our trespasses, as we each forgive all who trespass against any of us.'
I love Christ when I see all human oppression as torturing Christ.
I love Christ when I realize all kindness and service to anyone is to Christ.
I love Christ when I see and accept Jesus as truly human, normal, and a man of passion, a real, unique person, yet the Christ, the Word, the Beginning, the Belovéd Son, God-part of the non-partible God.
I love Christ when I accept what Jesus said and did.
I love Christ when I pray and live 'Through Him, With Him, In Him.'
I love Christ when I do not worry, when I do not fear, because I remember to trust.
I love Christ as the Way of life, the Truth that sets us free, and Life eternal.
I love Christ as the Bread of Life, come down from Heaven.
I love Christ when I receive Communion for someone who cannot or will not.
love Christ when I pray for others.
I love Christ when I realize and delight in each thing unique about Him, the way He is, the way He acts.
I love Christ when I delight in another's skills, beauty, gifts, fortune, wisdom, or grace.
I love Christ when I delight in another's right words or right action.
I love Christ when I appreciate the Saints.
I love Christ when I call Jesus Coach, Master, Teacher, Belovéd, Friend, Brother, or Compassion, Yahweh, Lord, Goddess . . .


    "This is My Body, which will be given up for you"

Oh Yes!
Oh No
I don't know
Why did you ask
Did you ask ...

Some days have passed with gentle bother —

And my answer is
            Yes! if God choose it
And my answer is
            No! I will not choose it

Yet more days have passed with less than peace —

And now I see
That as we are part of Christ
We are part of this Christ Crucified
And we truly say Together
This is My Body, which shall be given up
And We are martyred

And I am free!


The little, old, hobbled, holy woman
Devotedly kisses Father's hand,
Because his priesthood
            Is precious to her.
Father responds likewise,
Kissing her hand,
Because her equality
            Is precious to him.


In the Word
Father showed us the Living Christ
By telling truth in human terms
I had not heard before
But will remember
And know forever. 

In the Eucharist
Father showed us the Loving Christ
By loving Him in graceful dance 
I had not seen before 
But will remember 
And feel forever. 


I remember knowing
                        You lost an
                        You lost a child;
                        Yet no word did I hear from you
                        Telling of your pain.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        That you were afraid,
                        Unsupported, unconsoled;
                        Yet you just worked harder
                         And kept going, still kept going.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        All your time and all your energy
                        Was used up, was drained;
                        Yet you just worked harder
                        And kept going, still kept going.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        All your time and all your energy
                        Was drained and gone;
                        Yet you sometimes read to me,
                        Sometimes played a game.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        You would have
                        In an instant
                        Given up your life for me
                        Given your very life for me.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        You were never false to me.
                        And this was far more precious
                        Than pretty smiles
                        Or honeyed words.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        The harshness of your life
                         That did make you seem harsh.
                        So now I see through others' harshness;
                        You taught me to look deep.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        My free time with Self and Nature
                        Let Truth speak to me
                        Uncorrected by
                        What you were supposed to say.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love.

I remember knowing
                        I was free to think;
                        I was free to question.
                        I never was like you
                        But free to become me.
I remember knowing this, not knowing it was love

With all this I grew and gained
Armed with the gifts you gave,
Not knowing that you gave them;

You gave me all you had.

And so I came to know
I grew in strength and wisdom
And you had done your part.
You did no harm;
You did much good;

I thank you with all my heart!


That unwelcome sadness rips at mind and heart
Heart Mind Body are in pain.
If there be tears they do not refresh or cleanse
They burn and empty me.
There is no comfort, no reward, no recompense.
In those depths I only wait
For exhaustion.

I know Yahweh is Who Is and is Who will lift me up
When I recall the Way
And the Truth
And the Life.


The veil enshrouds me
Clouds my vision
Hides me in sadness
            Or so I suppose ...

Thoughts and acts dulled, joyless
I know this place
I know the next turn
The trap set in those dark depths
            Or so I expect ...

To ground in sanity I play my old game
strip away all back to the core
I know I exist
A reasonable assurance
Accepting that I exist
I know God exists
The old game ends here
It's all I know
            Or so I think ...

But what now? There's more!
Now only now and never before
Accepting that God exists
I know Love exists
And accepting Love
I open my eyes and see through the veil
Lifting and lifted
And enter prayer
And a new game.


    A leader is best when people barely know she exists,
    Not so good when they acclaim her . . . Lao Tzu

Good and once-inspiring Mother
Have you fallen into the snare of Certainty
Lured by that seductive Devil
Whose name is Honor Fame Power
Disguised as True Faith?

Have you lost the Way you once
Bravely walked alone?
(Such Courage, such Grace, you used for Love
Equating the Worthless and the Worthy
Touching the wounds of both.)

How is it that now I hear you tell the suffering to suffer
The privilege of pain
Denying them relief millions have given you for them?
How is it that now you pontificate simplistic rules
Burdening those already burdened with
The privilege of poverty
While you travel where you will and see whom you wish?

Did you decide you know the Truth
Now, and need seek no longer?
Did you forget to doubt and question
Any more?
Do you think you still are what you were
Before you stopped changing?

Oh, Lady, you do have strength and wit
And this is as difficult a world to live in
For the strong and witty as for the weak and simple
After all.

                        (Written two months before Mother Teresa's death.)


Tina, we gather to honor you
What remains of your embrace
Salt of the Earth
You will salt and nourish this earth.

But what remains?
More than these ashes -- what remains?

Memories remain
Memories of your laughter, good will, hard work
Memories of your high spirits
And memories I know not of

Knowing of you remains
Knowing of a difficult life well lived
Well done

Family remains, given from your flesh
A son, a daughter
Well loved, well raised.
A grandson, well cherished
And more yet unborn
These remain

And more, more than we can know
Someone's heart you lifted
Another's life you helped
– A garment here, advice there, comfort given, love passed on –
The small mitsvot that a good life is made of
Remain, and like family

Tina, we cannot yet conceive the fullness
Of What Remains.

    – May 11, 1997


    The Source of Life is as a Mother, continuously, endlessly giving birth ...
    And I ... am only a glorious infant, still nursing at the breast . . .
    Lao Tzu

The Newborn rests safely in the mother's hands
Hands that support, guide, and comfort her.

She nuzzles to the mother's breasts
Breasts that nourish her from their own flesh given.

But she looks to the Mother
And knows the One who created her in Love.

And we,
           We sing to the Holy Spirit
           Who supports, guides, and comforts us.

           We sing to the Son
           Who nourishes us from His own flesh given.

           We sing to the One
           Who created us in Love;

We sing to God, our Father,
To God, our Loving Parent,
           To God –
                       Our Mother.


It is a dark desert night
Warm and still
The pure, life-giving air
Not perceived

            Mother/Father Creator
            Dark and still
            Pure, life-giving God
            Not perceived

A breeze stirs
Delights, comforts, and spreads life
The breeze is air
Yet different

            The Spirit stirs
            Delights, comforts, and spreads life
            The Spirit is God
            Yet different

The stirring breeze
Inflames a hidden spark
The fire flares
Mostly air, and some other

            The stirring Spirit
            Inflames the God-spark within
            We feel the fire of Christ
            Mostly God, and some us

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