Tag Archives: Jesus

je suis



the invisible
is present, bidden or
not bidden, so

i admit to feeling

(you prefer
lower case i’m guessing?

i do)

your nearness,

much more

than God – is that your father:
enormous, cliff-
like, unknowable shore line
everywhere and nowhere
or did i make him up? – and

you remain unseen yet noticeable
and quiet, as a young
girl, painfully shy


and here:

are you the swing? are you the hush?
are you the dusk

light, and why is your name such
a problem? i admit to feeling un-
comfortable with it
in public,


i don’t mind thinking it

je suis is as close as i get

why do you keep
showing up discernibly concealed?

what did you learn as a human? and
what do you continue to learn as a

you are
the missing
person who
i look for
in a stadium
crowd, far off,
other side of field
eye contact
we locate each
other, impossible
to talk, we wave,
sort of, our
gaze in a
held in that
small holiness

just seeing you is
seeing me

you are the being in
a person without a
body, right? though in a
body, is that it?
that certain near-thing
we know is distinct
and unique
in me

like being in your own car, your own pew,
your own bed

how am i
doing so

stop me if
i’m going


poem by chris woodhull / photograph by kumiko ishigaki

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the star market


The people Jesus loved were shopping at the Star Market yesterday.

An old lead-colored man standing next to me at the checkout

breathed so heavily I had to step back a few steps.

Even after his bags were packed he still stood, breathing hard and

hawking into his hand. The feeble, the lame, I could hardly look at them:

shuffling through the aisles, they smelled of decay, as if the Star Market

had declared a day off for the able-bodied, and I had wandered in

with the rest of them—sour milk, bad meat—

looking for cereal and spring water.

Jesus must have been a saint, I said to myself, looking for my lost car

in the parking lot later, stumbling among the people who would have

been lowered into rooms by ropes, who would have crept

out of caves or crawled from the corners of public baths on their hands

and knees begging for mercy.

If I touch only the hem of his garment, one woman thought,

could I bear the look on his face when he wheels around?

by Marie Howe

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inner dialogue


What’s the point?

So you wanna know about Jesus, huh?

Yeah. I mean, nah dude, stop, I really don’t care but if you got something to say, say it.

You’re the one who brought it up.

Ok never mind.



Dude just say what you gotta say. If you can’t make it simple forget it.

..let me see…really at it’s core the good news is about one thing: and one thing only the impossible got abolished.

I don’t understand.

The impossible got abolished. Nothing is impossible. All that negative shit in your head is not true.

I don’t understand.

Look. When Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation what did he do?

Freed the slaves I guess.

Yeah and do you think the white brothers down in Texas, when they found out, went out to the fields, rounded up the workers and hollered, “Hey y’all are free now. President just changed things up. Y’all can go on? You think they did that?

Nah probably not.


Ok, damn, I know they didn’t.

Yeah so a bunch of Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger got on horse back to ride down to Galveston, Texas to give them the news. It’s called Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. This was two and a half years after the signing of the emancipation proclamation.

That’s kind of like what I am talking about with the good news. The good news is not advise but news. Something happened! Jesus did something decisive. They don’t put things in the newspaper because it is interesting or good advice. They put things in the paper because something happened, something shifted. That’s what I mean. Jesus did something. He freed the slaves. He abolished the impossible. And yet you don’t believe it. You still living on the plantation.

You got a point.

Yeah I got a point.

That’s cool. But you know something?


The plantation is real. I can see it.

It’s what you know to be true that is real whether you can see it or not.


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go tell it on the mountain


James Baldwin and Jesus never met. Or perhaps, I should say, that if they had, Baldwin did not talk much about it. At least not in public. Baldwin did not consider himself a Christian. He said as much. He grew up in a very strict, somewhat brutal Christian home and was a child preacher for a brief time to please his father. When he walked away, he walked away from it all.

It’s strange, he certainly lived in a way that Jesus would have found blessed. Jesus would have told his story in a parable. Perhaps he did. His life was sacrificial. His life was rooted in love. He considered people very important.

“From my point of view — no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed, no religion is more important than the human being.” Jesus would have been delighted with these words.

While Baldwin did not consider himself a Christian, Jesus considered himself a human being in much the same way Baldwin lived his life and this – Jesus believing in him – is as much an active faith as the other way around.

(James Baldwin, Beauford Delaney, 1963 Pastel on paper.)


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Becoming Who You Are


It came to me the other day, not exactly in a flash, somewhat tentatively, a flicker at first: most, if not all of my heroes were passive, not passive in the usual sense of disinterested and unengaged.

No, they were all very much engaged and present but not preoccupied by followers.

Maybe that is a better word: present. Each of them accepted their own souls. They lived into their names. They found themselves, as the saying goes and lived into that gift.

James Baldwin, Nelson Mandela, Jesus, Jean Michel Basquiat, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, John Coltrane, Gandhi, Thomas Merton to name a few. They wrote books, painted on walls or canvases, changed their minds, sat in prison, or on a bus, played an instrument, walked peacefully, prayed or submitted to a cruel death.

Curiously, by doing these “passive” things, by being present to themselves, they shifted the world.

chris woodhull

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