Monday, March 6, 2017

Lent 1 (A Poem)

"A Strange Peace"
After Matthew 4

In the desert, he worries about his age, 
How he used to sleep on stones, beneath stars,
But now his back aches, his joints smart,
And it takes five minutes to stand up after a nap.

And he has trouble finding the berries, 
The bushes he picked clean as a child,
And as a teen, and as a young man
At peace with himself, and at one
With the desert and the brush and the sky. 

Forty days.  

You can live forever, says the voice in his head,
An echo of a Sunday sermon he heard in church.
Just fall down and worship me.  Just say the word.
Say it right.  Say it often and with feeling.
You'll feel no pain, want for nothing, a confident soul.

Forty nights.

Doubting's for sissies, says the voice,
Like a mantra he heard in the schoolyard
Or a threat embedded in stained glass.
Take control.  Live strong.  Confess nothing.
You can change the world with a word.

Like that, forty days, forty nights.

He chooses his doubts, through it all,
And he nurses his bruises quietly
With the sky as his sanctuary,
And ravens spiraling hungry, overhead.
And he naps on old stones, knowing
No prayer, no god would keep him
From the passing of days and years,
From the suffering in his heart and spine,
From the bewilderment of death and grief.

And this knowing is a strange peace indeed.
"Temptation of Jesus" (Norman Bendroth)

This Lent, as in Lents past, I'm working on a poem a day, a daily practice.  In this way, struggling with words and grace, I enter a wilderness, a desert of sorts.  To wait on Christ's resurrection.