The Dance of the Young Spirits

The Dance of the Young Spirits

I sat outside and pondered

all the lives lost and the grief

of all who are left behind

and I listened to the songs of the birds

floating from tree limbs nearby—

Mother Earth inhales my worries and fears

and carries them on dandelion seeds

that will become the hope for new life 

tomorrow—but for today

She exhales the very winds that

touch my soul on these grief-filled days

when sorrow lays heavy in my heart,

but as daybreak nears, I glimpse

a teacher’s smile and outstretched hand

calling to students who are rising

from the wounds they should never

have had to experience, but now

I see their spirits rise among us

and dance before us with a beauty

that only the forever healed can show

and they encircle us and call us forth

to be the ones to join them in

this dance of the spirits

and to sing their names as we move

free from their dance and as we

face the sunrise without them

and decide how we will walk

into the future with the promise

we whispered to them that

no more would have to join their dance

before their time and no more

names would be written into the heart

of Mother Earth who grieves all who fall

into her arms by the hands of another…

Can you see them rising into the morning

and saying their own names as they

move into their forever without

finishing out their todays…

I hear their names and promise

I heard their pleas…

—Chris Pepple ©2022

Losing our country one child at a time..

Losing Our Nation One Child at a Time

America, our wounded land,

where children’s blood runs free

when shooters take their lives away

hiding behind guns so cowardly

America, our wounded land, 

where store clerks and teachers bravely

walk in each day as front-line warriors

while others declare guns make them free

America, our wounded land, 

God shed God’s tears for thee

and weeps for the good 

that is becoming harder to see

America, our wounded land, 

where voices are raised for change immediately

and wise ones know more tears will come

because America is losing her dignity

America, our wounded land, 

where whiners declare their rights selfishly

but the Black and the gay and the “other than me”

are targets for hate and can no longer be free

America, our wounded land, 

I truly grieve for thee…

—Chris Pepple ©2022

To the Women

To the Women

To all the women

in every region of the world,

in every country,

in every city and small town,

I hold you in my thoughts today

and celebrate your identity

and stand with you

in a sisterhood

that knows no bounds…

To the Ukrainian women

holding children and pets

in underground bunkers

and to your women

fighting on the frontlines of war,

I honor you…

To the Russian women

protesting and begging

for an unjust war to end

and who long to see

your sons back home,

I honor you…

To the Polish women

offering homes and hope

and who leave supplies

within reach

and who rock babies

that are not yours

so that another mother

can rest and breathe,

I honor you…

To women who are transgender

and who long to be recognized

and must fight for your rights

and who lose those close to you

because they choose to walk away,

but who build chosen families anyway,

I honor you…

To women who have survived

violence in your homes

and fled from abuse from those

who were supposed to love you,

and to the women still

trapped in unsafe homes,

I honor you…

To the Black women fighting racism

and raising sons and daughters

in this broken world

where people judge you

by the color of your skin,

I honor you…

To the women around the world

in poverty who struggle every day

to find food and shelter,

clean water and clean clothes

and who carry worry with you,

I honor you…

To refugees seeking hope

and who crave safety

and who walk through the unknown

to recreate what is known,

I honor you…

To the Mama Bears

creating safe spaces for your children,

who know that love is love

and who know that all people

regardless of gender or sexual identity

are worthy, 

who build communities for nonbinary, transgender, 

lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning family members

and who extend your love to others, 

I honor you… 

To all women who take a stand

for what is right and just,

who offer love and hope,

who mentor and guide,

who reach out and who teach,

to the women who climb ladders

and help others climb with you,

who give back

and bring change

and offer hope

and hugs and love,

who hold hands

and touch hearts,

I honor you…

I celebrate our

diverse faiths

and races

and faces,

I celebrate

our dreams

and our successes,

I see our struggles,

I honor our journeys,

I honor you.

–Chris Pepple ©2022

A Poem: Anyway

Anyway

When I felt broken

and invisible and was dismayed, 

you reached out anyway. 

I have no words to ever repay, 

but I will say thank you

to the one who loved me anyway…

the one who saw me through,

and believed in me

and believed me

and saw me

and reached out your hand

and held on

and embodied grace and love

and spoke louder than the pain

and refused to fear my scars

and refused to chatter away

with the gossipers erasing truth

and constructing tales that fit

their life’s narrative rather than mine

Thank you…

to the one who loved me anyway.

When we feel broken,

love anyway.

–Chris Pepple ©2022

Worthy

Worthy

To the unseen trailblazers

who make their way

through uncharted territory

to break chains of abuse

that others claimed to never see,

who walk alone and hungry,

tired and broken at times,

you are worthy and courageous

and I see you

and I know your pain

of being shamed

when sharing truth,

of being outcast

and denied seats at tables

because you are blamed

and named and called untamed

and unworthy to be in the presence

of those who deem themselves better

and use their judgment as an excuse

to leave you alone and hungry and hurting

as you carry your children on your shoulders

to save them from the hate of the one

who wants you defeated and controlled,

but you rose up and spoke your “no”

and cleared a trail out of the horrors

of the life others said you deserved.

And by your strength,

a path has been cleared

that others can now see,

and a new hope

has risen in the souls

of those forgotten

in a world

that rests in comfort.

You are worthy,

wounded warrior

whose scars remind you

never to turn back.

One step more,

one step more,

one step more.

Chains are breaking.

Hope is rising.

One step more.

–Chris Pepple. ©2022

http://www.chrispepple.com

A Parable of Friendship and Faith

I walked through my entire childhood with my best friend. We spent hours together every day as I read stories, played, and went to school. We spent every Sunday morning together in Sunday school. I don’t even know how many hours of Vacation Bible School we spent together. As we grew, I knew my best friend so well. We were so comfortable together. Even into high school and college, we spent as much time together as I could manage with my schedule. It felt comforting to know someone so well. I felt connected because we were so much alike. 

Young adulthood came, though, and nothing seemed the same. I heard new rumors about my friend that I kept denying because they just couldn’t be true. 

“I met your friend at the dance last night. I’m so glad we met.”

“That couldn’t be my friend,” I exclaimed. “You must be wrong. My friend would never be at a dance, much less on a Wednesday night. That’s mid-week Bible study where you can come to if you want to.” 

“I met your friend at Pride. You should have come as well.”

““That couldn’t be my friend,” I exclaimed. “You must be wrong. My friend would never be at a Pride event. I’m sure you’re a nice person, but your choices are so wrong. I’ll pray for, and I’ll tell my friend to help you as well.” 

“I met your friend at the Black Lives Matter march.”

“That couldn’t be my friend,” I exclaimed. “You must be wrong. My friend would never be at a march. The people marching are the ones causing trouble instead of seeking peace. They should all be arrested.”

I was angry and hurt by now. So many people were saying things about my friend that couldn’t be true. I knew my friend. I knew every aspect of their personality. I knew who and what they loved. I knew their house. I knew their heart. I distanced myself from these confused people and went to find my friend. I stepped into church and felt comfortable there. I knew my friend would be here. And they were. But instead of putting my heart at ease, they just kept saying, “You really need to get to know me better.”

“No, stop. I know you. I know YOU!” I didn’t want anything about our relationship to change. I had read their diaries and letters and report cards and poems. I knew them. I resented my friend suggesting that I didn’t after all of these years. I would not let this relationship change. I hung on to the memories I had, and I stayed in that building with a determination that felt crucial to my very existence. 

Years later, I was still in that building with my own child who brought in someone new. I pulled my child aside saying I wasn’t sure this building was the right place for their new friend. “But they know your friend,” my child answered. 

Suddenly my heart warmed as I saw the young friendship of my child and this child starting to grow. I remembered my youth and the feeling of being loved and being able to love. “Where did you meet my friend?” I asked.

“Outside behind the community center. Your friend helps serve soup to all of us homeless families every Saturday.” 

I walked outside and looked around. I saw the familiar artwork that bore the fingerprints of my friend. I saw love in people’s eyes. I saw my community working together to bring love, hope, and justice to so many people I had never even met. My friend was taking part in all of this. I went back into the building and picked up my Bible. The light flooded in the nearby window and illuminated the words of Jesus. Love…weep…leave the ninety-nine to find the one…blessed are the peacemakers…blessed are those who mourn…the Samaritan who gave so much…the bent-over woman…the forgiveness…the women…the leper. 

I had never really known my friend, I realized. I had known me and fit my friend into my shadow. “Come dance with me,” I heard my friend call. 

“I’m coming, Jesus. Let’s go see these people you know. I want to truly get to know you and the ones you love.” 

“I love you. Let’s go. You’re going to love what I have to show you. Put on your dancing shoes and be prepared to hug.” And I walked out of that building holding on to love and hope. 

In the Middle

I’m sitting here in the middle waiting for you to join me at the table…

I’m in the middle hoping to protect all police officers as you asked…are you willing to stand with me as I work to protect black lives?

I’m in the middle hearing you say that you want to worship and hold on to your religious beliefs from your tradition…are you willing to allow me to worship and believe according to my traditions?

I’m in the middle hearing you say that you never want an LGBTQ+ person in your home or church…are you willing to give me the right to have them marry in my church and live freely without threats from you in public spaces?

I’m in the middle serving you in restaurants and in stores even though we disagree on many things…are you willing to serve me and all of my friends in your bakeries and restaurants and stores?

I’m here in the middle hearing you declare your love for your homeland…can you hear me say that I also love our country even though I see our imperfections and am working to make us a place that is safe for all people including you?

I’m here in the middle sitting at the community table with my friends and family who are Native American, Black, gay, lesbian, transgender, white, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, mixed race, nonbinary, refugee, immigrant, Southern, young, old