Friday, September 11, 2009


Pentecost +15 - Year B

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die.

So runs a folk song. Hang down your head, says Jesus to Peter. Hang down your head, says James. Hang down your head, says Lady Wisdom. Hang down your head, says the Psalmist.

We are tempter and intemperate in speech and resolute in refusal to change and this is but the tip of an iceberg with so much hidden below the surface.

There is much to be hangdog about. No matter how many diagnostic tools we use, our progress, by fits and starts, is so glacially slow.

In the midst this sort of talk, remember the lowly sunflower.

glorious flower
head hung low
for eye and tongue

When it hangs down its head it is ripe - so many seeds for the future. An even larger harvest to come is ready. Also hidden in us are gifts; gifts for a larger tomorrow.

Imagine the comedic image of Tom Dooley on the scaffold with a huge sunflower pinned to his lapel. Imagine going through the rest of this week carrying a huge, ripe sunflower. Hold it up to Jesus, to James, to Lady Wisdom, to the Psalmist, to your Family and Friends and Enemies. Hold it up and say, “Yes, hidden faults I have, but I also have ripe gifts for a larger future. If you were to choose to focus on my faults or my gifts, which would it be?”

Hold it up to a mirror. “Wow, what a lot of gift seeds! My weight is one of too many gifts, not so many hidden faults. Lightening my load will be fun. I can be as fruitful and generous as a head-bent sunflower.”

[for extra credit, try Allen Ginsberg’s Sunflower Sutra]

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