The following series was written on a yellow legal pad in December of 2000 just a day or two after I had determined that in all likelihood my death was not immanent, after all, but before I had completely recovered from an intense period of personal re-orientation. I’m most interested in comments on the last three sections, though any and all are welcome.
A song of praise, in great relief from pain. Dec 21, 2000
Thy word, O Lord,
is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For them who have dwelt in the shadow of death,
On them the light has shined.
O Lord, you are my God: early will I seek you.
I will call on you in the watches of the night
and you will give me rest.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
I am full, because I am empty.
No one can know the goodness of God,
or the full extent of his love and constant mercy.
He fills the heaven and dwells in the dust,
and nothing escapes his notice.
Every word of God is true;
he is a shield to all who trust in him.
Night and day my pain has been my food and drink.
No medicine could give me relief.
I dared not speak even to my best beloved
But could not hold back because I was too weak.
In my anguish I gave myself no rest,
nor could I calm myself down.
I am well and truly killed; yet death has no hold on me.
For love is stronger than death.
Happy is everyone who calls on the eternal GOD,
the strength of all who know him in truth.
Another song of praise. Dec. 21, 2000
Thoughts of God are music to my ears,
And he reminds me of everyone I ever wanted to love.
He lets me name in my secret heart those I long for,
whose peace is my main goal.
He even gave me a companion not of my choosing
To love me when I could not endure myself.
He comforts my fears and shares my tears.
Not one hair of their heads will be hurt in any way.
Though they may need to follow him into hell itself,
the joy of life is unstoppable and must always win.
My anger and my fear he despised in his mercy to me,
Because he knew I was not free.
He couldn’t stand the thought that sin might touch me,
So he let me see its terrors and the curse I had laid on myself,
since the first day I came from the womb.
If God can do this for me,
I know no case is hopeless, and we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Though hell is real and the grave a terror,
Only sin must live there, and every sinner can be set free.
He gave himself to terror and wrath,
the worst that earth and hell could do.
But he did it to free the stubborn from their rebellion,
open blind eyes, and speak peace into deaf ears.
I was crippled beyond repair, but I leap for joy
Because his strength belongs to me. He has declared it.
Hell cannot praise him until it is empty
Just like me and everyone he loves.
Where did the idea come from
that God is a petty tyrant,
Ready to punish the least offense?
No one would respect a man like that.
How could we want such evil to rule the world?
The last thing I need is another explanation.
I can’t listen, and I talk too much
a vow of silence would be a relief
Except that it would break me.
In a soundproof cell I could curse my God,
and thank him for all his mercies.
But it is not needed to go that far
Because i still have friends.
Terror and joy are secretly fast friends
And laugh at the silliest things.
They know they belong together.
They lift their glasses in toast to hope and doom.
Any port in a storm.
Long have they danced their deadly dance;
Complex the moves, and strenuous the steps
Through which they trade their blows,
bravely as would any worthy foes,
As fighters trained in different schools,
they watch their chance.
With sure aim Terror strikes;
Joy’s confidence is shaken as she bleeds.
Yet from her very pain, as sharp as steel,
Springs rapturous bliss more piercing than a sword:
Now he is stricken, overcome, disarmed.
So they fall back.
Weary and wary, they circle once again.
He waits to find her most at ease.
He hides himself in shadows,
bides his time,
as Joy springs forth with light, blind to the dark.
She, when he flees, grows stronger still,
declaring him a ghost, a passing dream,
a shadow of mere shadows.
Yet in the dark he also grows,
takes shape, and ventures forth
To steal from her the fruit of her delights.
So war wears on.
A new attack and parry, new banishment,
new conquest, and new pain,
new weakness, all the same:
A fugue in an emotive key.
But now a change has come.
When he has done his worst, and she her best,
they both know something new.
Staring each other down, they see.
This fight is life, and death, and all the world.
Thus all hell’s demons flee from merest light.
Thus also heaven’s King is crowned with thorns,
and plunged in endless night.
So now they laugh, and drink, and tell their tales
Of shared delight and woe.
They stand again and know
their awful longing
to face the final fight they both must lose.
The pain of their embrace destroys the world.
He masters her in darkness.
She submits. In her his wrath is spent.
He plants in her the seed
By which the new creation
Will be born indeed.