Pilgrim Poems

If not now, when?


Rose NilesRefugees for God
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. —Mark 8:35

by Rose Niles

I wonder if
we reimagine
by walking in
prophetic footsteps,
carved-out legacies of
fearless self-inventory,
listening to ancestral whispers,
are we holding on
to the beautiful judgmental
comfort zones,
drenched in fear,
urging mirror time to
we never heard:
the best way
to lose

we travel
reimagine church
not by stacking tomes
of cool management
packaged ideas
not by making up
new words and acronyms and titles to shield us
from courageous living
of the gospel
propping ourselves higher
as we do less
like it hasn’t been
like we got it and those folks don’t.

Because the gospel lives
with simple courage
deep study
pure hospitality
foolish joy
with evolution
and revolution
the gospel has been lived
turning all our caste systems
upside down
inside out
facing dogs
water hoses
tear gas
lion’s arenas
lynching trees
making friends with someone different
(maybe that scares us the most)
right on the block
where your church lives
where you live
on your pew
over and over
not turning away
not locking doors
ready to give everything
we remember
for its been done in our seeing
in our hearing
we remember
being refugees
from everything
except our love-drenching God
and this just
might be
how we begin

Baptized, reared, and ordained a ruling elder in the Bronx at the age of fourteen, Rose Niles has served the church as a teaching elder, pastor, and supporter of theological education. Rose is bi-racial, a daughter of immigrant parents, a mother of one phenomenal woman, and a lifelong pilgrim. Amazed, she finds herself in Houston, Texas, serving Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary on this leg of the pilgrim journey. You can read more of her poems here.