No, I’m not going to ask you for yours or offer mine. I wrote this long before that was a topic of discussion.

Years ago I took a writing course at Regent College in Vancouver BC, taught by the wonderful Luci Shaw. It was a smallish class, possibly 30 people, from around the US and Canada. And some of them were superb writers. I’d never had any writing instruction before and it was sobering, (oh the revising and trashing ahead.) And challenging. And helpful. I loved every minute of it.

Luci is 91 now, and I just watched a video of her bungee jumping off a cliff – from, I really hope, at least 2 decades ago. In this little clip she discusses her book ‘The Crime of Living Cautiously’. (Perhaps there has never been a more important time to let your light shine – take a risk- jump.)

While taking the course I stayed with my daughter, who lived about a block off Broadway, the main thoroughfare that goes out to UBC. And that bus, the 99, gets crowded. It was a dismal morning, low overcast and a hard rain. I ran for the bus, umbrella flapping, backpack swinging, grabbing the one remaining seat at the front. This lovely tableau played out right before my eyes, and it was so touching I turned it into a poem before the day was over.


He, the last to board the 99,
stood, dripping, 
with his back to 
our ragged circle 
at the front of the bus.

We eight, 
a stratum of humanity,
whirling in isolated orbits,
and dismissed him -
in less than a breath.

so completely other, 
young, male, ebony,
wrestled with two restless children,
wrestled with the weight of parenthood.

I, unprepared for incarnation,
listened as you lectured 
and then chastened your young daughter.
“How would you feel if he did that to you?”

Your eyes met mine, 
“You’re doing fine,” mine replied.
We shared a shrug, a smile,
returned to our solitary orbits.
Then -

he, turned to the steamy window
and with a grubby finger
drew a heart on its canvas -
a heart, and then, within, 
an arrow. 
An arrow that pierced eight hearts.
An arrow, like lightning,
that lit the sodden morning with sudden joy.

We collided in orbit,
smiled sheepishly at one another,
as we absorbed  the weight 
of that word.

He stepped from the bus
 the instant I recalled that other outcast,
(who’d stooped to write a message in the sand.)

I turned to catch his face
but only caught the sliver of his neck, 
where ragged hair and ragged collar met.

John 8: 1-10

…neither do I condemn you…

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