November 30, 2020

and this is faith?

Agony. Arshile Gorky

and this is faith?
and this is life?
scared spitless, all alone
my earthly goods, my loves sent away
anticipating an attack
reaping what i’ve sown
the wrath of esau
i feel like throwing up
pulling the covers over my head

but suddenly i’m wrestling
writhing, grunting, falling,
scraping my elbow, twisting
the sound of sickly tearing
of tendon from bone
a flood of pain
i bite my cheek, spit blood
i squeeze out tears
i grimace and groan
the back of my head thuds
on unforgiving ground

and the power that overwhelms me
cries uncle

i rise

limping i walk
dying i live
losing i prevail
from jacob to israel
by clinging in defeat
to one i conquer

Comments

  1. Wow!! Currently writing a song that addresses God’s shadow side as experienced, loosely, by Job and Jacob. Both had knock down drag out, no pleasantries included, fights with God. We don’t normally think of it this way but my estimation is that Jesus had the same experience in Gethsemane. So brutal was that disagreement that he bled. Remember, it was clearly not Jesus’ will but it was the Father’s. Jesus said “not my will…”. Jacob and Job are said to have prevailed with God. They fought him to a draw. That opened a different relationship. Jesus had no option but to prevail by completely losing. Nonetheless, all three were given the spoils of battle. We don’t pick that fight but may need to be ready for it if it comes. The longer and stronger a soul travels with God the more potential for that fight. An excerpt from my tune:
    “Light, streams from a case that was open and shut but now again open
    Light streams from a case where life and blood and meaning seam merely a token
    It’ll take more, more, more to tear me apart
    From here on your floor I lay hold of your heart
    Now pay me my due, I’m not leaving you
    Pay me my due, I’m not leaving you.”

    • Seem not “seam”

    • Nice words, Chris.

    • The real experience of Job and Jacob is significant, and we need to remember it.

      Chris, Jesus was a different case because he was unique. He didn’t say “not my will” and leave it at that. He said, “Not my will, but Thine…” There’s a big difference. If it weren’t his will as well, then the Father would have been guilty of a violation on an immeasurable scale. Jesus had to go to the Cross voluntarily, both as God and as Man. If he had any doubt as a human being, that doubt was resolved, and rather quickly.

      Dana

      • Was it quickly resolved, Dana? Was it resolved once and for all, or was it something that revisited him many times, circling like a dark bird of prey? If he shared our humanity in fullness, it seems more likely to me that it was not a one-and-done thing, but a recurring struggle; this is part of the anguish of being human. We choose a course, and have to choose it again, and again. Human decision-making is not a perpetual motion machine, it does not generate the inertia of an abstract object in movement across an abstract perfect vacuum. Of course none of us can be certain of any of this, because we have no record of the details of his inner state as he underwent his Passion. We do not know. We don’t understand how the divine love and volition interplay.

      • Dana,
        I quite agree with Robert on this. It is WAY outside the bounds of intimate knowledge for us but my reading of the actual words leads me to believe that, at least in those hours, there was a clash of wills. Jesus the human was having extraordinary difficulty with the course as laid out and was looking for any other way (in the eternal universe that was present there). This does go to the subject matter at hand which is God forcefully exerting exceptional pressure on, not strangers or enemies but, the ones he cherishes. It is a strange phenomenon. There was an altogether different dynamic in Jesus’ case, I grant you, but it is akin to Job and Jacob. The swallowing of a bitter pill and coming out the other side.

  2. I may be mixing metaphors there and muddying the thing by including Jesus’ experience. We know that ultimately we win by losing but the mystery of Jacob is that he prevailed with God. Of course God remained in authority, He was the giver of a name, and Jacob had a hitch in his gitty-up for the rest of his days.

  3. Burro (Mule) says

    Saint Basil, Fool For Christ , pray for us sinners who use our rationality to our own despite.

  4. Nice poem, CM. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. One last comment since I’m on a roll here. This represents one of the most dire aspects of our walk in faith. There are no guarantees, whatsoever, if we face this conflict with the Lord in a grand way like Jacob or on other smaller scales. Many do not prevail and that is why Jacob is of note. Others may fall away and change sides or settle back into polite religious company, absent all power that would have been theirs. That is a truly sad situation and not uncommon. Through many trials and tribulations, yes. It’s just really unnerving when it’s being inflicted by the one you’re running to for help.

  6. Daniel Jepsen says

    Mike, I love this poem; Thanks so much for sharing it. I hope you write and post some more poetry.