|Jonah Icon, Holy Transfiguration Melkite Church, McLean, VA|
Spilling from branch to branch, aimlessly
Tilting toward the glossy rain-soaked asphalt.
Letting go, slipping from their perch
Above the capitol city, wet autumn night,
Most have yet to turn from green to yellow,
Or orange, or the radiant reds of maples in the north.
Still they slide to the street, or land sadly
And forever on unaware windshields
Of commuting cars, drivers eager to get home.
Jonah tossed from the rail of his escape,
Swallowed whole by a great fish and
Wallowing in his disappointment that
Things turned out the way they did.
Peter too, cowering by the station fire,
Retreating to the safer regions of privilege
And illusions of safekeeping and immortality.
Is this inevitable, this falling, this yielding
To fears unexamined and the driving rains of October?
Years ago I sat with inmates in a small
County jail, chapel walls painted with icons.
Reading stories of prodigals lost, prodigals found,
Sharing a loaf of bread, broken into pieces because
Jesus was too, broken into pieces, buried by loss.
A sad boy across the circle wept for a child
Far away, who didn’t call and didn’t come;
And another looked up, and recognized the sound,
The pain, and then (I swear to God) he stood and
Walked over to the weeping one, and sat by him,
Held his hand, and he said to him:
“My brother, you are not alone,” just like that.
So I want to say to Jonah and Peter, and to my own
Fabulously failing self: The eyes of God are upon you,
The lovingkindness of God steps toward you now,
And the falling leaves of October are gathered up,
In the invisible cycle of Gethsemane and Calvary,
Friday’s piercing grief, and Sunday’s golden light.
The jailed brother sits, holds out his tattooed hand:
“My brother, you are not alone.”
Just like that.
11 October 2018