Illusions Fall (a poem)

ILLUSIONS FALL

 

One I looked upon the world

With glasses colored rose.

I thought peace and tranquillity

Were what I would behold.

I dreamed that having faith

Would be the answer to all needs;

That love would flourish everywhere,

And all men would be free.

 

What I see, in reality —

Is a world that’s sometimes cold,

Full of people crying, hurting, suffering;

Their stories left untold.

And all too often, we of faith

Walk on the other side.

We shake our heads and scurry on.

We say, “The job’s not mine!”

 

A woman is abused:

We say, “Go bake your man a pie.”

Our ears are closed.

We cannot hear

The battered children cry!

They pound their heads upon the wall

And cry out to the town:

“Can’t you hear us?  Can’t you see?!

            IS ANYONE AROUND!?”

 

The frightened child cries in the night

“Oh, who will rescue me!?”

While all of her deliverers say,

“You surely can’t mean me!

I can’t be meant to take a risk

And venture from my safety!

There might be danger in that move;

It surely can’t be godly!”

 

And Jesus sees from heaven above —

He weeps with His heart broken.

He longs to comfort those who hurt,

But can’t wake up His chosen!

We stop our ears and cling to fears

From which we can’t be shaken.

But illusions fall

            If we heed His call

                        To change and be forgiven.

 

Have mercy on us, Lord above,

According to Your kindness.

Continue to open our eyes, oh God!

Deliver us from blindness!

Give us hearts to reach out

In Your mercy and Your grace

To those who need to know

You bear their shame

And their disgrace.

 

(From “Tamar’s Prayer”  1988)

 

 

On using words (ramblings)

My mother made me a poet.  Not necessarily by inspiring me to read fine literature, but by her unique ability to string words together in ways you never forget.  I learned from her the power of words at an early age.  She had a well developed sense of meter and timing.  She taught me never to take words for granted and to carefully measure the effect of the ones I used.  I learned to be careful and sparing-that words could build up or tear down, and that even after attempting to take them back,  their impact can remain, their sound resonating in your memory like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Writing has always been my passion, at least since I was a third grader in Mrs. Bosshard’s class.  Every day that year, I’d present her a new story first thing in the morning.  Although considered quiet and much too shy at that stage, I had discovered words could express things just fine if they were put on paper.

In high school, the creative writing class was taught by an “old hippie” with a gift for bringing out the creativity in people.    At one point, after reading my rather dark poetry, she called me in for a conference; she was the only person who noticed the depression in process.  She paid attention.  Years later, two of my children were also blessed  to have also had her for a teacher.

When it comes to using words, (both in conversation and in writing), I prefer the short version.  Having to add enough detail, and box car enough thoughts to make something longer than a paragraph seems a bit of a challenge, but once the train gets rolling it’s kind of fun.

Writing things out on paper instead of letting them chase each other around in my head makes them easier to edit.  I like the “delete” button, the drag and drop technique, and the bold print of emphasis much better than arguing or screaming.  Emphasis by italics feels more civilized than clarity by decibel level and can express strong feelings just as well.  There’s nowhere left for words to hide when they are displayed in black and white on the screen, hidden in plain sight.  I can move sentences and ideas around, try new things, and reformat my opinions (both internally and externally).  Making the ideas stand still long enough to be looked at objectively and cut down to size is exhilarating.

Poems and songs are to writing what photographs are to full-length films.  They give a glimpse of a moment but they do not articulate the depth, the character development, background conflicts or the interconnectedness of events the way longer narratives do.  The fight to add detail continues.  I am drawn toward the guerilla tactics of poetry—select the target, plant the explosives, then run for cover before it detonates.  I need to learn more patience for the process of development, strategy and written dialogue.  Perhaps if I continue to work on written communication and doing the “long version,” verbal communications will become less draining and intimidating?  One can dream that being comfortable with words in one setting will make them more comfortable with words in other settings….

Child sexual abuse

Warning, I’m angry!  Heard another story this week of yet another young woman trying to deal with the memories of abuse suffered at the hands of people she should have been able to trust as a child.  (There are too many stories, and yes, I know it’s not just women telling them).

A long time ago, I watched a friend’s child have to testify in court against her step dad for his crimes against her humanity.  I will never forget.  As a naive Christian (I’m still a Christian, but hopefully less naive about the reality of evil and of people making really sucky choices and doing awful things to each other all over the world), I was left appropriately speechless.  Pat answers, platitudes, and cliches come up pretty coldly empty at that point.  What do you say in the face of evil?  

The only hope I could find in that moment grew into the poem below….    

The Betrayal

 

The night is dark and stormy

There’s a cold wind in my soul

Seems like I’ve been torn apart

And never will be whole.

The suffocating weight that rests

Upon my broken heart

Holds me in my silence–
Lord, when will the healing start?

 

I cast about in frantic hope

That there might somehow be

Someone who can reach out

To break these chains and set me free.

But who can know the torment?

Who can really comprehend

Unless they too have been betrayed

By loved one or by friend?

 

As I cower in desperation

And in fear of what shall be,

A picture comes to mind

I know that you have given me…

I see you hanging on a cross

In agony betrayed,

Naked, torn and bleeding

So that we can be saved.

The one who lived and walked with you,

With whom you shared your soul

Was the person who betrayed you—

All my agony you know!

 

 

(Please do not misunderstand my point….I am not in any way trying to trivialize the suffering, grief, betrayal, rejection and incredible damages done by people who do this stuff!  I am only trying to say it’s OK to be really honest with the rage, anger, pain, betrayal and that, since God knows what you’re thinking anyway, talk to Him about it.  Jesus also was betrayed by someone He had shared life with.  Don’t let the abusers win, and destroy you.  Your life is worth more than that!)

 

“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality….Take the mercy, accept the help.”  (Hebrews 4:15-16 The Message).