I Have Not Seen

What to say;
I use words to hold on.

We know something is wrong, maybe even everything;
And this assumes we know
Or have some idea of
Wholeness.
Scripture calls it Sabbath:
When all is right with the world, we can rest.

For now, we wait.
It’s a lonely business
Or at least, that’s how I find it.
Fear drives me into isolation
Even in the best of times.

Christ my only hope in life and death.
What a thing to say, to hold on to.
How can I be strong enough to grasp
This truth,
This God that I cannot touch.

Thomas touched your hands and side.
He was afraid and unsure.
We give him grief for this,
But you, you just met him there.
In his weakness you drew close.
I think maybe I am afraid and unsure too.

O Lord here I am;
Be near to me.

Patchwork Prayer

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.

“If we have any boast, it is not in our wealth or wisdom or strength. It is that we know the Lord. But an even greater boast…is that the Lord knows us. Here is our place to stand, our resting place.”¹

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

“I am afraid of insidious hands Oh Lord which grope into the darkness of my soul. Please be my guard against them.”²

When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.³

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him,
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
Oh for grace to trust him more.”

¹Stephen Smallman, Forty Days on the Mountain
²Flannery O’Connor, Prayer Journal
³Isaiah 43:1-2

God Hears Israel’s Groaning

I am afraid most of the time.
Most days.
All the days, really.
Israel has never been more relatable.

Distrusting, falling into fear
Every other minute,
Because imminent danger always seems stronger
Than past salvation.

I cling to this hope:
“During those many days
The people of Israel groaned
And cried for help.
Their cry for rescue
Came up to God.
And God heard their groaning.
And God remembered his covenant.
And God saw the people of Israel.
And God knew.”

Weakest of nations,
The least of these is Israel.

And yet
When they felt alone, abandoned,
God knew.
He knew and he never really left.
He knew and he stretched out his hand,
And through every obstacle,
Despite all their fears,
He made a way.

*Exodus 2:23-25

At an acceptable time

You are my life raft
My preservation from these cold, dark waters.
I cling to you with my last shreds of strength.
O Lord, surely you are my only hope.

But Lord,
My salvation,
You seem so far away
Holding the end of that rope
Refusing to pull me to shore.
I cannot let you go.
Why don’t you save me?
It’s so dark.
I’m so alone.
Except for you.
So I’m still holding on,
Still calling for help.

I wait for an answer to echo from the shoreline
And keep holding tight.
My heart breaks,
And my hope is sure.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

The Capable Princess

The tower was comfortable,
As far as towers go.
The princess had taken things in hand,
When hope of rescue began dwindling.

She had all she needed,
She had planned and pieced together
A life that was pleasant,
As far as lives go.

She befriended passers-by,
And was beloved by the birds
Who would chirp at her windowsill each day.
She rarely lacked for company.

She was clever, so of course
She knew the way to escape
All that was missing
Was someone to hold the rope on the other end.

So you see this damsel’s distress wasn’t terrible,
As far as distress goes.
She and her tower were ready
For the prince to come.

Yet they never did.
Perhaps they wanted a greater challenge, or
Perhaps they couldn’t see the tower.
Perhaps.

Thankfully, her tower was comfortable,
As far as towers go.
Only sometimes it was dreadfully lonely,
When the birds flew away to roost.

Quarry

Huddled masses, He hears each cry,
As you lie wallowing in dust and earth,
Surrounded by the sounds of pain
Compounded with the clanging hammer strikes.

Piece by piece you are chipped away,
Broken from the heavy mountain holding you,
Gathered in
From the only home you have ever known.

The hills echo with your distress
As rough edges are chiseled and polished,
Smooth and more smooth you become with each passing day,
Until it happens:

The work is finished.
You come to rest in your new home,
Where there is peace and a place for you,
And all is quiet.

In building the temple, only blocks finished at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.
1 Kings 6:7

Supplication

Lord, I am afraid of hope.
No good reason, I know.
Plenty of good reasons, I feel.

I acquiesce your sovereignty
Over clothing and food.
Lily of the valley,
Sparrow of the field,
Yes, even the least of these.

Never mind needs.
Wants are the stuff of hope,
And these I refuse to count on
With good reason.
Good isn’t about getting what I want.
And Lord you are so good.

So you see I doubt myself,
To know good when I see it.
I feel depravity deep in my core.
The heart is deceitful
Above all things.

So Lord I’m scared to tell you
What I want.
I’m afraid it won’t be good enough,
Afraid even that the very speaking will negate
Any positive response
You may otherwise have been considering.

I know all the Bible answers for this problem of mine.
But I’m betting on the fact
That you want to hear from me.
So here I am,
And here is what I want:

To see hopes fulfilled.
To hear YES while I still care.
To trust that somehow
Good doesn’t always mean NO.
To know and feel your love.
For that love to be enough.

Lord hear my prayer.

Amen.

Education

There is rhythm
Even here, in the click-clack of the keyboard
As I compose another test
In a never-ending line of assessments.
What is this definition
Label the part of speech.
Categorize and explain,
Until at least one small piece of your world
Is neatly quantified and set aside.

Move on.
Learn again
Some of the same things.
Mostly the same things.
We are a forgetful people
Circling round and round to remind ourselves
Of what we knew, once.

Adventus

A providential reminder:
Advent arrives every year,
Enters into my impatience,and says
Already, Not Yet.

Already but not yet?
When I was a child I didn’t know what this meant
Outside of gifts under a tree–
Mine, but not yet.

Jesus says God knows how to give good gifts to his children.
I worry about that word “good”.
I think I know what good gifts are, but
God seems to have a different definition in mind.

My parents always asked for a list.
God doesn’t take my list into account.
Or at least
That’s how things stand so far.

Already, Not Yet
Already, Not Yet

Tidings of comfort and joy:
We are the people
Who are given everything,
And we are the people who wait.