I You ask, “does faith come hard or easy?”
I’d laugh but you’re serious.
All I can say is no one I know has had the baptism of desire & skips right on ahead.
I sense far too much horrible humanness in myself—
What is that?
– it’s that span between the head and heart,
and it’s cavernous!
So, my conversions are continuous:
and, needed and wanted,
for my days are an ever-leaking cup:
always empty, never filling up.
Now and then
there’s that moment
when I awake to my own strangeness: the person in the mirror I’m not sure I like anymore (if I ever did).
And, oh, I’m not even touching on the suffering—
suffering meets me in undreaded forms:
there is no drill for, nor furlough from
Suffering. Suffering doesn’t steal in as a thief but breaks the down the door
and turns in to
the ugly and unwelcome houseguest
planning on taking over.
But if I can exhale,
if I can look away from its
it hits me:
in hardship, mostly,
that’s when purpose sprouts.
But don’t let me discourage you–
despite the fits and starts,
faith’s a great and graspable Gift.
Just as no one can unravel the mystery of beauty
so it is with
the beauty of the Mystery.
II Then you ask, “Sounds so hopeless: what can we do?”
We can do this:
we can gather it up,
the cup can be filled, the top can be reached.
This is how it goes: Let’s all come,
let’s sit around the table, touching,
let us chew and swallow
our bread of faith in one room
from one table
in one place
One in our taking it in, we are be bound as one.
The oneness making faith easier, and so
III So yes,
at this time,
and in this place, we’ll eat with
our friends & family who
ate with their friends & family
and their friends & family…
which links time, substance, space
all the way back to
a hard table & a hard floor
where a handful of hard men were eating with the Lord
as He faced The Hard Time,
and whose faith they borrowed—
a kind of plagiarism.
But which, somehow in the end,
all sorts, varieties, and degrees of separateness
of this, our alien identity, with the One.
And through some kind of miracle of multiplication
he shared the One Bread,
but it has served billions,
And with His sharing and serving,
has given each one of us
our primary of allegiance.
And yes, for each of us faith is different–
God’s not interested in mass production.
And though our faith is the same,
the product is unique.
And no convert is
The lift doors open and reveal me to you,
and you to me buried as you are in your burqa.
Why hide you? my question veiled in my smile at your baby.
I’m absent in presence when you pull me from my mind-cave-
wildly waving at the panel. You need me
…….to get to your floor.
And your black-eyed, black-haired kids stare slack-jawed while your nanny
…….sniffs showing disdain.
Them we ignore, for heroes don’t ride lifts and mothers are realists, if nothing else
Hurdling down a dark shaft
…….we work together to make it right
We needn’t talk to explain ourselves:
……we are not products set out for their approval
……we both shed scarlet
Buried in our chests we bear
the necessity of love, and the answer of hope,
which, more than water, is life’s most basic necessity.
Charged up on chemistry and on superstition, all our systems in disarray and crumbling.
This is how we see the end:
our old grinding world is drowning
…………………………………….in blood and irony.
But we’ve become joint forces of love,
…………reproducing right here, a fingertip’s microcosm of shalom, of wholeness
…………stronger than all the shattering objections outside the lift’s walls.
I alight giving a good-bye as Salaam and your reply is a smile that blazes from inside,
as you open to the entire world a brilliant flash of white held concealed buried in the cave of black cloth.
Awakened I feel my numbness passing from a dull self. I have forgotten that anything valuable is always, and only, as someone put it:
blood and heat and hair.
– A Charity Johnson
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