Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In calamity

Today is a day when He says, "Speak", and I would rather be silent.
This morning I woke up tired, from a hectic day yesterday and a splitting headache and thunderstorm last night, and then I walked downstairs and saw the newspaper, and it only took one picture and a few words to make me cry.
Today compassion means "weep with those who weep".
     Today I wanted a Sabbath, a day of rest. I wanted to play violin and practice piano and go for a run and spend some time being still, and instead I have ahead of me six hours of teaching, when I will ask students how they are today, and when they ask me back, I will say, "Good!" and smile, even though it's one of those days.

This morning when I woke up, I prayed that God would give me poetry to speak, and He did, but it wasn't what I had in mind.
His mercies are new every morning, and some days they are hard and they are heavy. Today is one of those days.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

In Calamity

           If you had been there, O Lord!—
   you have words to calm a storm
      to turn its frenzied terror to a calm.
You have hands to heal, to touch the torn
    and bring new life to broken flesh.
Where you walk springs hope, light, life
   but we forget that the earth trembles and melts
   at your touch, that you have wrath
       which consumes utterly and causes
 kingdoms to fall to their knees,
     that you speak and mountains are
 moved, that you have terrible and mighty power.
     We forget that you have mercies
which are sometimes more severe
       than we can understand.
But, oh, Lord, if only you had been there!

  And I am hearing the panicked cries
Cries of children in the dark as the sky
     itself is rent and terror comes down,
Imagining their shaking and their screams
   their great fear when air is more
powerful than brick and mortar and steel.
   When foundations of stone are not strong enough.
When the world collapses on
     their frail bodies.
         Your house is left to you as desolate.
Rachel is weeping, weeping, weeping for
      the desolation that is come upon her,
she will not be consoled, she refuses
      to be comforted, she is weeping for
    her children, the children who are
                    no more.
She weeps for you, for your children, the
    children of Oklahoma, the children of Boston,
 the children of Bangladesh, of Sandy Hook,
         of Africa, of Haiti, of Japan.
   For the children who are no more,
for those who have known terror and fear
        and loss, those from whom the shining
of wonder has fallen from their small sweet faces.

I do not understand your ways, Lord.
   I do not understand your mercies.
“If you had been there, Lord”—
             we cry, but we are earth-bound
we do not understand the purposes of heaven.
  Only that they are breaking our hearts,
     tearing our souls and there are days
We are Rachel, weeping for those children.
   Days we wonder if you are, too.
              Days we doubt that all shall be well,
and all shall be most well,
    and all manner of thing shall be well.
Days when, “Lord, have mercy” is tinged with
    anger and accusation and grief,
             with bitter longing and mild,
     broken sarcasm.  When “Your will be done”
  is a cry of “no more!” and
    we are shaking our fists at you and stomping
          our feet and turning our tear-streaked faces
    to the sky partly from desire and partly
           from anger and blame.

And you have audacity to say,
    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall
  be comforted”              and
      “Blessed are you who weep now, for
        you shall laugh.”
  You have the impertinence to rise
        and stretch out your hand and say in
     rebuke, “Peace! Be still!”

   We do not understand your ways, Lord.
   We do not understand the severity of your mercies.

We do not know how you can be still
          Upon the throne when we are kneeling
      In grief and weeping over the broken bodies
        And the wounded souls and our dead,
Lord—your dead.

    We know only that you are God.
And that we will worship in trembling
       and awe, and perhaps in bewilderment,
for our God is a consuming fire.

 We do not understand your ways, Lord.
      We cannot comprehend your mercies.

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