Though I did nothing to produce the flame,
I want to “contribute,”
so I pile on “good works,” busy-ness, “rightness”
till the fire nearly smothers.
The result: a smoldering smudge
that burns my eyes, sears my nostrils—
All the “good” doing no Good at all
And my vision is bound by Self.
I “do” more, petition with frantic edges, praise with listless duty
and, deep down, miss the pure flame
utterly outside my power to create.
I arrive weary at Christmas Eve service,
just in time to see the bishop wave the incense,
sending up wisps of white
that fade from sight but waft sweet scent—
even to my row near the back.
“Nothing magical,” the bishop explains.
“Just a symbol of the psalmist’s cry,
‘Let my prayer be set before You as incense.’”
I breathe deep and wonder-
What could transform my smoldering smudge
I examine the Psalm and find no commands to
do, work, fix.
Instead, verbs requesting action on God’s part,
“Set a guard,” “Do not let…” “Leave me not.”
“I cry out to You,” the songwriter begins.
And ends, “My eyes are upon You.”
Such kind deliverance.
The truth releases me to
I sense Holy Spirit hovering.
Wing beats unceasing
fan buried flame
lift the wordless wail.
Set free in stillness,
The Hallowed wind sweeps me
To the edge of myself
And I fall
Deep into the intercession of
NOTES: 1. If anyone reading this is a poet and has suggestions (and would be willing to share them), I would LOVE to hear them. 2. Because I don’t really feel this is “finished,” I didn’t record this one.