a blackened and devoted faith

I don’t want to be a cumulative mess of nostalgia, thinking yesterday was better than today, and wishing that tomorrow held the same promises that I once sought.  Tomorrow was gone before I knew it, and with it, a whole meadow of what I hoped.  Is it enough to lay those hopes down again and again; over and over?  To relax my hands that were tightly clenched and let go of the jewel that I would plant in the soil of my heart and watch grow into an oak? 

Perhaps the meadow should stay just that. 

Yesterday.  Yesterday. Yesterday.  What about today? Hasn’t that field burned? Will it rise again? 

Who can say.  

Deep grief calls to us like the low song of a whale – vibrating our very members and shaking us until our bones cry out.  Do you hear the sound like the song of the night?  It haunts and yet wraps you around and around until you are smothered.  

Drop, liberated. 

Scale the walls. 

Burst to the edge of the sea where the depths cannot touch you. 

You will always feel the great heaviness somehow.  But you will be free. 

Someday, beneath the smoldering ruins of blackened roots, we will find ourselves again.  Our hands, dirty with crawling through charcoal and ash. Our lungs are full of smoke; like fire dragons we emerge.  We are changed.  The children of yesterday have become the parents and grandparents of today, and we can’t wish to go back.  We are not needed there anymore.  

Truth is, faith is a lot like that.  

Faith does not always promise the golden, glittering outcome at the end that we imagine.  Do you believe and obey only because there is a handful of gold at the end, or a piece of candy to please you or a glorious rainbow-dream-come-true promised to you? God gives good gifts but doesn’t hand out rewards like candy for acts that please Him. He isn’t fickle like that.   

Can you imagine Abraham

Being asked to stand in faith

Not knowing the outcome

But believing what God told him

Believing God could raise his son

Or bring another

He stands

Tense

Did he mourn inside?

Were all of his tears bottled up as he raise his arm

Was he afraid

His hand raised, nonetheless. 

Truth is, faith is a lot like that.  

Faith, believing that even rams are lost in thickets

And God does His work best when we are whelmed and our hands are raised

Our pointing our faces upward

The dustbowl behind us

And the red sea ahead of us

Look to the only one that can take dust and cause the blind to see

Touch the broken bodies and make them leap again

Stop in the swirling crowd to notice a voice

Truth is, faith is a lot like that.  

There is nothing nostalgic about

The more you find it

The more you come to know it

As tried; blackened through fire

Tried in the thicket where rams aren’t supposed to live

Tried in the great sea of sorrow with the haunted cries of the whale

Tried while watching ships depart from the Gray Havens

Tried, but tried with promise

We cannot hope for anything better than this tried faith

This blackened and devoted faith

That sees what is good and yet seeks what is best

With an assurance of things hoped for and

the conviction of things yet unseen

[First written in April of 2021; revised March of 2022]

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