Category Archives: Poetry

Prayer for Our Enemies

Prayer for Our Enemies

Lord Jesus,

12 icon-st-ephraim-prostration the OPF

You commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us that we may be truly children of our Father in Heaven, Who causes the sun to rise on those who are evil and those who are good, and rain to fall on both the righteous and the unrighteous: we beg You – fill our minds and hearts with Your Holy Spirit that we may forgive those who persecute and murder our brothers and sisters as You forgave those who crucified You.

Help us to repay their evil with goodness that we might not be overcome by evil but conquer evil with good. Deliver us from anger and a desire for vengeance.

As Your first martyr Stephen prayed to You for his murderers, so we pray for all those who fight in the name of ISIS: enlighten their minds and hearts that they might come to know You, the only true God, and Your love for all humankind made manifest in Your Cross. Lead them to repent of their many sins, having defiled themselves with the blood of their many innocent victims and having handed their own souls over to the darkness of the Evil One. Do not let them perish. Have mercy on them and forgive them, for they do not know You or the Father Who sent You, and know not what they do.

For blessed is Your holy Name, O Christ our God, and to You do we offer glory, honor and worship, together with Your eternal Father and Your Holy Spirit, the one true and living God, always now and forever and to the ages of ages.


Prayer offered in September 2014 by OPF member Fr. Steve Tsichlis, pastor of St Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California

Poetry in Pictures

“United and Undivided?”

split olive trees

An elderly olive tree whose trunk was split by some trauma

when the tree was young.

The two halves are separate,

yet they are one tree,

forming one canopy and sharing the same root.


“Being Separate Together”

Being separate together

Two trees of the same species planted far enough apart

so as to not interfere with one another as saplings

but encountering one another in maturity.

Their canopies have adapted as they accommodate each other

in a shared space.

Poetry: Holy Wisdom

Holy Wisdom

Like a master worker,
Like a little child,
I did all things while you yet lived
In abject nothingness, a thought.

While the Lord planted men
In cities, in wilderness,
In deserts and oceans where his
Fingerprints form in the sand,
Among clouds where they sometimes appear
As archipelagos of energy, and
Where their variety displays in the many barks of trees;
While he made eye and ear, mind and hand
To pull in signals also of his making,
Making them appear outside of godhead—I was there.
In your infirmity and in your death I will prevail,
Even over oblivion, for he who made me
Before anything was made,
Placed me between the Begetting
And Time, who followed,
And in a figure deigned to be born of me,
Has in pulling himself up raised all things,
Who chose by me to lift all from chaos,
And that there should rather be than not be. . . .

–Matthew R. Brown

September 2013

Poetry IC 66

a poem:

Christ icon

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.  (Teresa of Avila, 1515–1582)

a prayer:

Lord, teach me

to live as one who calls the whole world home, abiding

humbly, grateful, as a guest and a stranger,

mindful that my home is elsewhere;

to share fully yet humbly the responsibility

of community life with a few

and the work of neighborly peace with all;

to serve all with whom I share

the habitation of this world,

as a citizen of your heavenly kingdom;

to serve your people fraternally,

wherever we find each other,

as a citizen of your Church

and a member together with them of the family of God.   
Amen (An OPF member)

a reading:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.  (1 Peter 2:9-21)


The wrong choice

by Auke de Leeuw

Käthe Kollwitz Seed for the Planting Shall not be Ground up 1942


My name is Auke Siebe Dirk.

I was named after my uncle Dirk Siebe,

A boy who made the wrong choice,

Chose the wrong army

With the wrong ideals,

Escaped poverty,

Hoped for a better life,

No way back.

If a choice is made,

Only a way forward,

Which he cannot avoid,

Fighting against the Russians,

Afraid to die,

Thinking of home,

Where Dirk’s future has yet to begin.

His mother torn apart by war,

Mother of eleven children, with four in the resistance,

And one fighting on the eastern front.

She loved all eleven of them–

Dirk Siebe never came home.

My name is Auke Siebe Dirk–

I am named after Dirk Siebe,

Because neither should Dirk Siebe be forgotten.

(Translated from Dutch)


Above Image: Käthe Kollwitz, Seed for the Planting Shall not be Ground up (1942)

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 64 / Spring 2012

The Fall by Aaron Haney

by Aaron Haney

I read about the fall of a bishop today
It makes me sad and prone to wander
I took my dog to the park and let her run

He was my first Archpastor in a new-found Faith
He is a lonely old man with an alcohol problem
I imagine he’s been feeling pretty small these days

I hear a voice pick up the leaves like wind and say,
“Bless God for the coming of a fall…”

Why do I use such shoddy materials to build a life?
I build indiscriminately, pell-mell, without much thought
It is a poor strategy, shortsighted, a flimflam thing

How long does it take for something so precarious to topple?
I need something to come and shake it daily, a test
Otherwise its collapse becomes inevitable, a matter of time

I hear a voice pick up the leaves like wind and say,
“Bless God for the coming of a fall…”

I think of a story of the foolish building on sand
of a myth where a boulder need continually be pushed up a hill
of the Golden Mouth praying for help to make a good beginning

The Sacraments as stones and the Spirit as mortar
My structure continually shaken without bringing despair
The grace of God to start again, more humble, more obedient, more careful

I hear a voice pick up the leaves like wind and say,
“Bless God for the coming of a fall…”

Written on a sad day, looking for meaning in the removal of a bishop from service and his placement in alcohol treatment.

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 63 / Winter 2012


Orthodox Haiku: For the Lenten Season by John Kosmas Skinas

by John Kosmas Skinas

Tulips! How short lived,
like a burst of repentance
breaking through the dirt.

Daylight comes sooner,
but I hold on to the dark—
warm, comfortable.

A path to Eden
cutting through the wilderness:
the prayer of Ephraim.

Blown loose from the tree,
the plum blossoms fall and turn
the color of earth.

Small orange poppies,
Rooted in death and decay
Rise like little suns.

Suddenly white hail,
a harsh joy reminiscent
of fasting’s pleasure.

A beautiful day:
a gift, like eating salmon
on March Twenty Fifth.

No death, no fragrance—
the silk flower can’t please God
with its pretend life.

Christ is crucified
while nearby, in the church shed,
four kittens are born.

The April wind blows
out the candle’s Paschal flame
before I reach home.

The Resurrection
has come and I can only
think of lamb and beer.

Rejoice honored trees,
God was lifted up on you
and the world was healed.

Green daffodil stems:
each is supporting a sun
the earth couldn’t hold.

The Lenten spring shines;
the flower of repentance blooms;*
Eden calls us back.
*from Cheesefare Wednesday Vespers

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 63 / Winter 2012

Poetry IC 62


By Vincent van Buuren

I stand behind the table of brass

in front of the icon of the Most Holy Mother of God

where they can light one, or more, of five candles,

which I will extinguish for others to light them again.

And everyone of them, as they light and pray,

they look up to the flame,

and I look into their eyes and see the silent prayer

only known to the Holy Virgin and them:

of the old woman dressed in black

with the parchment skin tanned by the sun,

of the mother with tears in her eyes

making the sign of the cross,

of the muscular athlete from Russia

who prays with tenderness and awe,

of the child on his mother’s arm

with eyes like an angel, radiating enchantment,

of the old man with the walking stick

whose trembling hand I have to hold to light the candle,

of the woman who came to the icon

all the way on her knees.

And as behind me a young man falls down on his knees before the icon

and bursts out in tears,

I can only stammer, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Vincent van Buuren is presently on a three-month stay at a Greek Orthodox monastery on Cyprus

They’re gardening boots now…

By Aaron Haney

They’re gardening boots now

stained only with the dirt

of my small raised garden

Seeds unsealed from plastic

await a proper burial

reminding me of a past

that still weighs on my heart

but gives me hope

for the possibility of new life

“It’s been four years since my deployment to Iraq and 2 years since I left the Army for civilian life. By the grace of God and through the prayers and support of OPF members I was able to remain safe (and sane), able to turn swords into plowshares as it were with my combat boots.”


❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011