And One More, for Nick

Oh yes, I am angry
All these months later, the entire summer in between.
He didn’t even know you!
And it seems an insult to say that I could have done better.
But really.
I think I could have, little as I knew —
Little as I had known you.

The way you left has left a hole.
The edges are less jagged, worn a little smoother
But they still catch.
The first time I made baguettes —
When your friend needed a place to stay —
When they brought food over for us —
Those of us who knew you look at each other
And smile and swallow tears.

He should have said that your heart
Was as big as the widest sky;
That the way you laughed and loved
Was nothing short of incredible;
That you were humble and gentle
And practical and kind;
And that you had a laugh to span the stars
Dreams to bridge great chasms.

I know that it doesn’t matter to you, not now,
But the truth of these words have stuck in my heart:
“Say what you like about melodrama,
it beats confusion.
The truth is we ought [to] have a chance to say a little something when it’s getting dark.
We ought to have a closing scene.”

[Quote from Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome]

John’s Motif

day one:
words were spoken into the void
–let there be light–
and there was; immediate and incomprehensible
existing in obedience to the Infinite

and then came the Fall
with all of the rhythms disharmonized
–men loved darkness rather than light–
and there were thousands of years of death
the unbridgeable chasm wider every day

the first day came again
words exploded into the gloom
–and the darkness has not overcome–
and He rose; unashamed and undefeated
complete victor over sin and death
post tenebras lux!

at the start of a journey

Listen to the unseen singer
And the river of wind in the trees
Let go of the toys of your hollow dreams
And step into the uncharted frontier

Follow the song and not your own heart
For it leads you down dark fragrant paths
And nothing but death is the prize at its end
And I have prayed better for you, dearest friend

You will be hungry and thirsty
Confused and depressed
These woods grow wild, cold and dark
The only right path winds unfathomed ways

Hear the song of the Weaver as He skillfully works
And the threads obey the sound of His voice

Prayers for Jacob

It must have been six years ago
Those sneakers wouldn’t fit you now
But the words in my heart haven’t changed
For this child I prayed
And you’re no child anymore
But I still pray to see the rest fulfilled:
And the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him!

I’m not ashamed to call you my brother
We share a name, you know
If I could write your life out with my words,
These are some I’d choose:
As long as you live, you are lent to the Lord!
Or these:
Now thus says the Lord, He who created you, Jacob:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine.”

I pray that you may know this overwhelming love
That would ransom you at such a high cost —
Nations in exchange for your life, Jacob,
Himself to redeem your soul.

A year ago, I looked at your words
And felt hope grow in my heart
Because what you wrote was full of Jesus
I wondered Where does this come from?
I could have cried, I was that happy
Why did I ever doubt?
Don’t I have memories of your sister —
Sunshine hair and sky blue eyes
hand in mine —
As living, breathing answered prayer?

The world is full of snares and traps
So I won’t lie; I’ve been afraid
But again I see your words
Speaking of what you’re bound to:
Christ-follower. He has a plan for all of our lives.
And I feel tears in my eyes again.
For you, child, I still pray —
These six years and all your life to come.
I pray you may wrestle and cling for dear life
Saying I will not let You go unless You bless me!
So that you may hear Him respond in the end:
You have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.

Amos 9:13-15, loosely

Declaration of Yahweh:
Hey! Look out! Pay attention! Listen up!
Here’s what will happen in the days to come:
Your fields will be so thick with grain
Shimmering gold in waving oceans
You won’t have time to harvest it
In the months before it’s time to plant again.
You’ll still be treading the grapes
When the new ones are planted —
This crazy, abundant shalom —
Beyond any bacchian revelry
Beyond our deepest dreams
The mountains will drip sweet wine
It’ll flow in rivers down the hills
The land itself will celebrate!
And how could it not?
I’ll restore the fortunes of my people
And the ruins of the cities once so beautiful,
Then so heartbreakingly desolate
Will be rebuilt, filled with life again.
They’ll plant vineyards and drink the wine
Plant gardens and eat their fruit.
I’ll plant them like a tree, deep-rooted
Nourished on their own land
Never to be uprooted or displaced
Never again to be afraid.
So has it been spoken, so shall it be done
By Yahweh, your God.

From the Aftermath

It was a war weary week
Days filled with nightmare news
Bombshells of death, destruction, devastation
So by the end we’re exhausted
Eyes reflecting aching hollows
Broken and haunted by fallen comrades
Too badly hurt to comfort well.

Still, we stand together
Family forged in battle heat
Shoulder to shoulder on the line of fire
It’s rough and hurts like hell
But we aren’t going anywhere
Buttressed as we are by the armies of the heavens
Behind, beside, before.

Oh Father! I cried, gasping
In the midst of mud and blood and tears
Struggling just to breathe against the dark
Almighty King of time and space
Please send Your countless forces
For we are frail against such evil.

And You heard, and answered.

Not only angelic hosts, for it’s too small a thing
But You sent Your own Son
Very God taking on mortal flesh
Living on this shattered planet
And facing all of our sorrows
Even to death on a cross!
So He undid our enemy.

In the battle, with tired hands,
I will cling to this truth
Knowing that You’re holding on to me.
Whatever I face, You’ve already conquered
No darkness too deep, no evil too awful
Everywhere is already taken territory
And victory’s assured.