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 celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. was yesterday. And even as we recall his stand, and pay tribute to him, don’t we also know, deep down, it’s easier to post and to tweet about justice towards all humans than it is to do something? Particularly when you’re sacrificing something dear. Still, let us NOT forget that we must be watchful about our own tendencies towards cliquishness, which builds fences. The fences become walls. Walls become laws.
Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He lived in what I have not had to live. A poem by Langston Hughes:
My weaknesses! I freely admit to a sweet tooth— for the early day’s rays through the oak leaves. Also… spring …