A Fleeting Song
Do not cry for
me my darling
Do not cry for me my love
For I go down to where the deepest waters lie
And I will never thirst again
My days have
been short, a breath, little more
But such is the lot of man
What's fearful is not to die while still young
But to never have lived
A fleeting song's 'oft sweeter, the sadness is not mine
Weep if you must for yourself
I would n'er exchange one day of my life
To grow old as someone else
Life is so short,
it passes like a dream
Let us now leave behind all unimportant things
That we may live, that we may live, that we may live
October 1997 in Guatemala while staying at Jared and Jody's in Nebaj, at outset of journey around the world.
Blessing of Darkness
Upon the road we are to travel
Of all the trials we shall face
Between this moment and eternity
Would certainly hurtle a mortal against the ground
And crush upon him like a dragon's foot
Til breath came only in desperate gasps
But we are blessed
to have no such vision
And light enough to illumine this day's path alone,
Strength is granted
to bear the weight of this hour only
So let us not
strain to peer beyond
the dim circle cast
by the lantern we now hold outstretched
But nimbly dance within the flicker
that washes the ground about our feet.
Daisies on the Riverbank
A tired babooshka
stood, bent-backed and alone
Against the metro building's old gray stone.
And past her through the doors to home-bound trains below
A thousand expression-empty faces flowed.
She offered them
the last of the daisies that she sold
This day and every day (when not too cold).
They seemed to shine, fine yellow and white
In a place with very few things bright
But that stream
sped past her, dark and rank
Giving no thought to flowers growing on its bank.
Without reason for laughter and nothing to say
Rushing along to complete the day.
And I, I too was
in those murky waters caught
My mind full of its own dim thought.
When my eyes were pricked by a soft radiance
Like a needle to the thumb of a man in a trance
of those daisies' glowing
Lifted me up from that dismal flowing;
Rousing me from a world without light
And offered back to me my sight.
Summer of 1996 while living in Moscow, spurred by this very scene as I traveled home from work via Metro.
My faith lies
like a broken man.
Yesterday I praised Him with palm branches; but something in me today cries out,
"Crucify your foolish hope! You only thought you saw the leper cleansed and that lame man click his heals."
I writhe in my unsurity.
Christ never used the coercion of a miracle one must believe.
"Why," I shout with the Inquisitor, "do You not make belief compulsory? Show Your hand!"
But finally, my rage spent, I crumple down upon the dusty road, and in my mind sift through a desert.
Some see God as shackles, and in doubt they glimpse a liberating key.
But I see better than that.
For even if the skeptics were right, and heaven did not exist, hell most certainly would. For whether or not there is a God, hell is to live without Him.
Life alone is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
A moment of joy, a brief taste of pleasure "the early leaf's a flower, but only so an hour."
Hope is false, peace an illusion, and happiness, at best, is fleeting.
Indeed, if Christ is not raised from the dead, we are all most miserable men
And invading my thoughts, the soft slap of sandals upon the path.
I do not raise my head for fear of seeing no one. But still a voice speaks deep and gentle, "You too will not leave me?"
And I reply, "Whence shall I go, Lord?"
1998. Written in India after a troubling episode in which Mike, Matt, Trey and
I prayed for a crippled Indian
man with an uncommon confidence he would be healed. He was not healed.
Good and Evil
I would that Evil
were a Man. Had a face.
Perhaps a horned helmet too
With coal eyes sunken in, peering out
That I could stare into
With Righteous anger. Before I swung
I would that Virtue
had sable tresses
And flame-blue eyes
That I could stare into
Before I kissed
Her cherry lips.
But Virtue's fullness
is not thus
And there is no battlefield
The truth is
If the lines were drawn today
('Though I know where I want to be)
I'd have to put a foot on
Just people moving in one direction
Or the other.
The struggle must be turned
up, I always felt I'd been born at the wrong time, in the wrong era. I longed
for a chance to swing a blade
for good, to make battle and do daring deeds. And although now I do not hold so much jealousy of rougher times, I still
yearn for a world in which evil is not a nebulous thing fought with words and ideas, but something tangible that I could
fight with my hands and a mace. Not yet.
For now the struggle is to be good.
The Hymn of Green
Surely no color
praises the Creator more than green.
With dawn's first rays its song begins. The very tips of trees, when kissed, with gentle humming wake the bush and flower below, and rouse them to their morning tune.
And as the blades of grass shake off their dew, they gladly join the chorus too; along with seamless prairie seas, and patchwork quilts of unripe barley, wheat, and rye, rolling like an oceanscape, as far as distant hills, where shimmering aspens play upon the lyre.
And in the deepest mountain glen, a whispered worshipping is heard, from sponge-like mosses, ankle-deep, draped in ferns of emerald.
And from beneath a graying white, on alpine passes cold and bleak, a tender voice cries out as well, nudging through the crusted ice, the infant sprouts of flower and tree, singing louder every day.
And in the jungle, thick and wild, countless toneful shades rejoice, as sun drops drip through glowing jade, upon each leaf and vine below; and illumines the bright lime chest of a bent-nosed parakeet.
And roaring shout the forest of the north; ten-thousand miles of ancient pines, rumbling out their age-old hymn, which rolls through endless meadows bright, until it echoes back to them.
All around the earth each day, 'til light has faded from the sky, in every hollow, hill and dell, green sings it praises to the King.
Written as Trey
and I traveled across India by train, amazed by the glory of the emerald rice
patties (This was just shortly after I wrote Doubt).
Thoughts of Harvest
Sometimes I desire
The wheat whose seed has only just been sown.
I walk along yet-dark furrows, discontent.
When I bend down and sink my fingers into the earth,
It is not to feel the moisture or to break a clod
But with a foolish half-hope of drawing a stalk up from the ground.
And when the fragile
Nudge up from springtime soils
(All at once, somehow, as if they'd planned it)
I find it difficult to rejoice as I should
In the life exploding at my feet
Or to smile as I notice
Little grains of sand lifted up and balanced lightly
Upon the new-born blades.
I do trust that
the harvest will provide
All that I need when need shall come.
(The silo is far from empty now.)
But I pray
The mystery and magic of
Water spilling from the sky,
Energy pouring down in gold,
Growth and change
Buds, blossoms, and tiny winged creatures
May feed me in each moment
Just as someday
Will the grain.
January of 2000.
To Sail Boldly
How boldly I sailed
when this springtime sky
filled with lilacs melting slowly into wine!
A single star glowed,
hanging but a half-mast's height
above the ship's bow,
Burning like a beacon fire,
indisputable and clear
as my father's call
ever drawing me
vintage now fills heaven's cup;
the great expanse above-and in the water, too-
is blackness, haphazard and lavish with glistening gold.
That one star is lost in the two seas,
above and below,
swimming amidst ten thousand glittering lights
It's all beautiful, yes, certainly not less than before
and I believe each spark
comes from His hand.
Yet their glory leads nowhere, it seems,
except to wonder,
and to worship,
So I do.
But to be cutting
knowing not to where, but why,
knowing not to what, but for Whom,
That is my prayer
as I kneel here
beneath the stars.
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