My life is a guesthouse
and each day brings its visitors.
Years of regular customers,
rational and sensible,
ordered and predictable—
they cause no trouble.
Steady Contentment, calm Happiness,
busy Industry, pleasant Enjoyment.
Every once in a while Temper checks in,
turning the whole house upside down for a while,
but he doesn’t stay long…..

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The Wrong Good-bye

This is the wrong good-bye.

At thirty, death stands on the threshold

ghoulish as an x-ray

staring straight through all our hopes and plans.

We will not welcome this grim usher

who comes before the play’s half-done.

 Against the injustice,

against the desperation,

against the running out of time,

against the fear of my body’s demise,

against all these,

Love stands.

We crave your presence, Lord,

even in the wrong good-bye.

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Age-old Chorus

In the hospital for sick seniors

each pillow cradles a face 

framed with white hair

underscored by bony knuckles

clutching white sheets.

Bodies, getting older together

join in a choir of symptoms;

the deep voice of bones broken

the tenor of organs failing

the soft alto of senses dulling

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Waiting for Medical Test Results

On the day fear parks itself in my throat;

when the mountain to be climbed

is the next twenty-four hours

and my ears already echo

with the news I do not want to hear;

as my stomach plummets

and fear pick-axes my heart;

while my mind careens

from possibility to possibility;

as the edges of my known world crumble,

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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