Autumn’s Torch

My eyes have grown dark of late.
The world I once saw was bright and hopeful and lovely,
but it has become washed over with shades of grey.
I know the world has not changed,
but rather my eyes and the mind that perceives it:
a heart that is muted, dull, heavy,
and nearly blind to beauty.
And just as the last luster seems lost from my vision,
Autumn arrives, torch in hand,
and sets the trees ablaze.
They flame, they burn… for me.
They blaze so brightly, so vividly
that I am forced to remember the world I once knew,
forced to see it, still here, still stunning.
A sky so vibrantly blue,
a sun that paints the horizon with its dying light.
In this last profusion of color before the coming of the night,
the grey is washed from my eyes with tears of gratitude.

Suffice

“God is love,”

the Scriptures say.

But “God is spirit”

and his body is not present with me,

only his intangible soul.

I cannot touch or hear or see

and he says I am blessed for believing anyway.

But I long for the animal comfort

of a heartbeat beneath my ear,

an arm around my shoulder, holding me up.

Or to hear affirmations, declarations of faithfulness,

whispered, murmured, spoken aloud.

Not just pages of red letters,

not just tears blurring an empty ceiling,

not just crying out with no reply.

The glass is dim, the mirror dark,

and all I have is a promise,

not yet attained.

I cannot touch or hear or see

but this present distance must suffice for me.

A Holy Moment

I lay in the hammock,

Limbs heavy and sluggish in the

Cloying heat,

And it is a holy moment.

The slow summer breeze

Carries pollen as incense.

Above me rises the blue dome of this cathedral.

Solid oak branches form

Criss-crossing arches,

And in their upper reaches,

Angels perch and sing like swallows.

Amid their chorus,

I hear the low whisper,

Soft and gentle and desperately dear:

The reason for the vault of sky,

The angels’ piping strains,

The incense of the flowers and trees.

His whisper, his voice,

So quiet you could miss it.

So small you could mistake it,

And think instead that

He was in the wind, the earthquake, the fire.

Mostly Water

We’re mostly water,

You and I.

And I wonder if,

Like the tides,

We are pushed and pulled,

Bullied by the moon.

I wonder if its gravity

Draws and repels us,

Causing us to act

Or hesitate.

Are we as relentless and determined

As the ocean waves?

Throwing ourselves again and again

At our boundaries

Till they wear down to sand.

Or are we as fickle and fleeting

As a summer rain?

One moment, gentle and light.

The next, tempestuous and raging,

Then just as suddenly, gone.

We’re mostly water,

You and I.

I know because

There is no end

To the tears we cry.

Know Thyself

“Know thyself,” the Ancients said
as if it could be done
I lie here in a stranger’s bed
and dream within a stranger’s head
The battle’s just begun

And as I dream, it seems to me
It would be just as well
To know the bottom of the sea
Know all of every mystery,
Heaven’s heights, the depths of Hell

I look into the mirror’s glass
And see a stranger’s eyes
Where doubts and dreams and shadows pass
Too swift to count, too full, too fast
Each blazes as it dies

Impossible to know my way
When I change constantly
Her mouth speaks words I’d never say
Her heart is quick to go astray
She is so strange to me

A Broken Gate, A Stolen Key

Hell, you once had the power
To make your home in each of us
To smolder in the pits of our souls
And make us wretched

Hell, you once grew like a flower
Roots tangled through our thoughts
Poisonous blossoms making our air
Thick with sulfuric fumes

Hell, you once stood like a tower
Proud and vicious against our skies
Looming over us, a constant threat
Keeping us in terror and tyranny

Hell, your power is broken
Your flower withered
Your tower shattered

You’ve been plundered, ransacked,
Emptied by the one
Who went willingly through your gates
And obliterated them as he came back out

[1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 1:18]

NPWM Day 30: Coffee with Sadness

I finally sat down to coffee with Sadness.

Too long had I ignored him,

Screened his calls,

Looked past him on the street,

Filled up my calendar

With anything and everything.

I am a master of avoidance.

But Sadness is relentless;

He will not be put off.

So I met him in a bustling coffeeshop,

Surrounded by the murmur of conversations

And the whirring of espresso machines.

And for the first time in a long time,

I looked him in the eye,

And I didn’t look away.

I didn’t run

Or change the subject

Or pretend he was anyone other than who he was.

I made myself sit with Sadness,

Listen to the soft cadence of his voice,

And hold his gaze with unwavering eyes.

He is no easy companion,

But there is value

In facing him,

Resting in his presence,

Knowing him.

And when I finally looked at him,

When I let myself really see,

He started to look a bit like Peace.