The Shadow's Confession
He has called for us to build a wall in order to keep out the illegals,
so I have,
only my wall is one of frustration and anger between me and my friend.
Stay away from me!
Don’t touch me; I won’t be betrayed anymore.
I heap one accusation upon another,
Stacking them like bricks,
each brick held in place by the mortar of unforgiveness.
I don’t want to tear down my wall.
Instead I have chosen to crown it with a barbed wire fence of razor sharp words –
Words that wound my friend and keep him away,
Words that lock me in.
As much as I rage against their hate and bitterness,
I feel my own.
As much as I want to judge them, I see that same fear and mistrust inside of me.
None of us can move forward, as long as I guard my own wall,
yet I can’t seem to trust enough to tear it down.
Before I can forgive them,
I have to forgive him.
Before I can forgive him, I must forgive myself.
Our first assignment Saturday morning was to write a short poem in about 10 minutes - just to warm us up, then Richard read several poems about the nearness of God and the distance of God (or no God). Then we had our first challenge, to write one of those of our own. These are the two I wrote:
Follow the path only wide enough
for one foot in front of the other.
Wind the way up to the top of the cliff.
See her there - at the edge
ancient, twisted, gnarled and bent into shape by the constant north wind.
Branches reach out - to touch nothing.
Roots grab fiercely - and find only rock.
Yet, she stays, constant.
She whispers, "Hold on."
GOD IS THAT GREAT ABSENCE…
the empty silence…
the darkness between stars*
or maybe God is white space
the pause in our breath
the pregnant void
maybe even the great no-thing.
God and I used to talk for hours,
Lover to lover,
Friend to friend.
It’s much quieter now.
Words are seldom spoken.
There seems to be more empty space – which quantum physics tells me isn’t really empty space at all.
Some days I miss the words,
those easy answer,
the chance meetings,
the heart-to-heart rendezvous,
the touches that made me tremble.
Sometimes I wonder if I made it all up:
all those conversations,
the grand experiences,
the “God-told-me-such-and-such” tales.
There seems to be so much space now.
the rhythms of the seasons
the sound of a heart beating
the ticking of a clock
the flow of a stream
the purr of my cat
or a butterfly that hangs on in the wind.
As my eyes adapt to the darkness and my ears adjust to the silence
I find myself hoping
God’s in the spaces between the word.
Finally Richard gave us several poems that seemed to be tied together, even though they were written by different people over the course of several hundred years. Our challenge was to write one to add to that particular "book" of poems. The theme was "take and eat". We gathered Sunday morning for a short session and shared our poems.
Take and Eat
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.*
Do you know how hard it is these days to smile
at my reflection in the mirror?
Her naked “unbuttoned” face looks back at me,
and there is no “Welcome”.
Not in her eyes, not on her lips.
Instead I’m greeted by worry lines
and anger’s dark cloud.
I would rather not look in the mirror this morning,
thank you very much, at least not until it’s time
to paint on her mask and make her look pretty.
I keep myself bent and solidly stayed in the big leather chair –
It’s more comfortable not to see.
“Get up, go, look – and smile.
Just try it. What have you got to lose?”
I know. I’m stubborn.
This moment proves it.
What’s to feast on about my life anyway?
Cat comes and jumps on the arm of my chair
demanding her morning stokes,
but she leaves all too quickly.
No more excuses.
“Do it. Offer yourself Eucharist.
What can it hurt?”
I walk into my kitchen,
pour a thimbleful of white zin
pinch off a bite of Wonder Bread,
and place them both on a china plate.
Red New Zealand prayer book tucked under my arm
And plate in hand,
I shuffle off to the mirror.
Well, we look rather silly,
you and I,
staring at each other in the mirror.
Let’s begin with confession…
I confess that I have sinned against you.
I bless the bread and then the wine.
I lift them up to myself in the mirror
and offer her communion.
feast on your life.
For a moment, we smiled, and then we cried.
*Love after Love, by Derek Walcott