I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said,”Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Ps.77:5
I had been praying about what to post here next. I kept coming up empty. Then today, suddenly, I remembered my song. I dug out my old journals and found it, this poem. I wrote it 11 years ago. I remember it boiling up and pouring out of me like a gurgling fountain of poison-turned-sweet-and-safe. It is my song of redemption to a Savior that rescued me after years of running away. God sought out this Hagar in her desert and brought her back, and this is my love song to Him.
The Lump of Coal
If only I could touch the place outside this finite murky space where in spite of our denuding the sacred and artful vail eluduing of glaring granite revelation and consequences of inhalation of the black-lung lies of immense proportion that constitute our soul’s abortion, I could find the kind of power that unsheathed the trembling virgin hour; the power of sensitive carpenter hand; the power whose eagle wings, gathering, spanned the gritty unbrilliant sky in the palm of an infinite hand and who fathered the calm of finity’s archetypal storms.
O Eternal Mind of eternal forms, the perfection of matter and shadowless light I in the darkness cry with a plight; I have gasped and grasped and stood on towers and stretched as far as I could into the absence, my fingertips spread, until even the babble of wishing was dead. I cannot reach that unreachable place; I cannot transcend this buried space. So I lifted up my voice and wept,
“Alas, alas,” and down I crept the winding stairs to join the throng whose riotous voices I’d envied long. The dance was wild, the wine was sweet so I whirled my head and succumbed my feet and easily drowned the peal of the bell – the resonant gong of eternal knell. Until the edifice finally quivered. The cracks showed through, the foundations slivered. (and still the music never hushed, the voices swelled and dancers thrust) I saw with fascinated eyes, Saw and trembled, paralyzed, a single snake-like ribboned rift form beneath my feet and shift, pointing me toward the door.
So now I stand on the aching shore, at the tension line of sea and sand (Something clasped tightly in my hand.) While in the silence between the waves something is real, something that saves. I poise here, a tightly coiled spring, waiting for a white-capped wave to bring some assurance, some delight, but the silence staggers me in the night. And the limbo is too heavy now and so my head I slowly bow and lift my weak unwilling fist and lower my knees till they touch the mist that is left by the silver receding tide.
And here, in the posture of prayer, I cried, “Where were you when I was on the tower? Where was your promised boundless power? Why did you tear me from the wine? How can dichotomous wills align? Why won’t you let me in dancing abate the cold lofty stillness of heaven’s gate?” And I shook my rebellious welded hand, (something clasped tightly in my hand) and tried to rise up from the sand –
Hammered my ears . . .
containing the violence of temple tears containing the Bread with which thousands were fed containing the Living who once had been dead (containing assurance, containing delight) containing a lifetime of soul-ripping fright –
As my gasping lungs wracked with the flood of my weeping a wave overwhelmed me with force of its sweeping. I AM the Reacher, I AM the flood, I AM the Silence, I spill the blood.
Then came a pressure too hard to bear My hands groped for mercy, my lungs gasped for air. I AM the heavy stones of the gate. I roll the boulders, I lift the weight.
Then came a scorching, my lips and my hand burned with a searing that I could not stand. I AM the fire. I earned the grace. I AM the answer. I fill the space.
“Rejoice, for purifying perpetual fire has given my child her heart’s desire.” I opened my hand, fingers outstretched.
A diamond unfolded
I knelt down and wept.