a poem in three days
Dedicated to the Memory of Mother Teresa Who Never Experienced Divine Assurance
You have answered me late in life,
yet I already knew your answers.
They are questions I suppressed in my youth.
My people were shaped by disappointment;
I am the offspring.
Your answers do not redeem a lost
devotion to your love and pledge.
I would hold onto your heel until
you deny your divinity, but I cannot.
I am stronger than you are; see how
you struggle to be free from my grip.
Yet my hand is on fire from holiness.
You slip away from me when the heat
burns my skin away.
Your sandal is left in my hand;.
I throw it from me like a worn out boot,
yet retrieve it for the sanctity of memory;
it shall be an artifact of faith in what
I cannot hold, cannot bring down ,
to hang a trophy on the wall of my bold piety.
You have left yourself vulnerable;
you cannot be surprised that I still stand and
face you, looking for a weakness.
When I find it, it shall be my own.
Custom is a habit hard to break,
expectation denied, a strike to the heart.
They cannot be forgotten by a thought.
In an instant, I cannot feel the joy of love’s
release, love an attraction slow to grow,
suspicion an aggravation not soon removed.
Love will cover my rebellious inner being;
to that I will surrender.
But the thread that binds all things together
tangles the lover in the weave.
When I sort it out, what shall I see of me?
I have not been honest for fear of offending you.
Now, I have forgiven myself, forgiven my teachers.
I have forgiven you; remain as you were.
I seek one who is beyond you.
I shall pledge my life to pay off your debts,
restructure your divine enterprise
with the gifts of human value.
Is this at last what you would have me know
while others shun me for my impudence?
Now I shudder at your power; you are truly
awful, transcendent, and wonderful, wholly other,
unapproachable. No one sees God and lives.
Your love is beyond me, beyond Jesus.
God is love; he died a man in darkness,
yet became the light of the world.
Love beyond cannot be known,
always keeps one waiting for the lover.
Jesus loved; by it men declared him God.
If I embrace it as your own,
what need have I of you?
You forsook him as I abandoned you,
but embrace you again beyond my shadow.
Love is suffering toward the light,
rejoicing in the faintest beam.
What is true of me will be true of you.
When I discover it I will bless you.
Then will day break on the Jabbok.
A. Josef Greig is professor emeritus of religion and philosophy at Andrews University.
a poem in three days
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Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.