When Christ went up to Heaven the Apostles stayed
Gazing at Heaven with souls and wills on fire,
Their hearts on flight along the track He made,
Winged by desire.
Their silence spake: “Lord, why not follow Thee?
Home is not home without Thy Blessed Face,
Life is not life. Remember, Lord, and see,
Look back, embrace.
Parent God of all of us, hear our prayer
in this disruptive year: Lord, turn out the lights.
Turn out for moments of our prayers
and for moments of our lives
all the lights we see by,
or all the lights we think we see by.
Make it dark in here, even now, in each of us.
My daughter turned six recently, and one of the gifts my husband and I gave her was a Bible. As I inscribed it, I had a moment of doubt: “What am I doing giving a child an ancient book that frequently features polygamy, patriarchy, and violence? And, at best, metaphors beyond our context! The Bible is really hard to understand! I’m still working through that! She’s only seen sheep once. And shepherds . . . never!” What I inscribed, however, was different and was an exercise in preaching to myself:
The ghosts of a chosen legacy
curl in rattling whispers, echoes of that
tarnished triumphal exodus rendered by the cleavage
of a foreboding sea and heralded
through the inciting song of Miriam.
The Israelite root hacked down, defiled
and tormentingly grafted in the crucible promise
of a pagan adopted daughter to a widowed Mara,
the gleaner only rescued by the bestowed favor of a kinsman redeemer,
his honor bound by the threads of marital covenant.
The tangled ancestry unfurling to seize
Convicted by the rooster’s crow,
I was his friend, now was his foe.
Jesus, my master, stood so near,
yet I found no comfort, only fear.
Thrice they asked me if I knew,
“Weren’t you one of his followers few?”
Thrice I said, “I do not know!”
I denied him so they’d let it go.