A Long Lament (in a certain direction)

by Shawn Bailey

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
(Isaiah 58:11)

Photo by Shawn Bailey

Photo by Shawn Bailey

A Long Lament (in a certain direction)
by Shawn Bailey
Crushed into sorrow, our pestle-ated
souls alter into a state
unfamiliar--not anywhere close
to the dreams we were dreaming
in the beginning. 
Even the mortar is
cracking with a plea to
make it stop. 
The lamenting is lasting
long past a reasonable
threshold. God should know
how much is too much. Perhaps he is napping. 
Or getting too old to remember about
checking in. 
We cry for the loss.
We cry for the long-ness of the loss. 
We cry for the long-ness of loss-after-loss. 
We cry that we
cannot stop crying. 
The drip-dropping tears are landing in
all the wrong places. Not in the rivers where
we will be refreshed. Not in the pool where
we can be soothed away from the blazing heat. No, 
the tears just fall out of dried-up sockets and
and land on cement. 
Nothing gives. Nothing is well. No horizon worthy enough to
keep on going; not a single thing to inspire one more step into hope. 
And so we languish, bewildered and weak: forlorn and bedraggled. There is
nothing more, but to wait for it to be done. But then, relief
is just a dream.
What we wanted is gone now, but our lips
cannot say good-bye--at least not all the way.
Our hearts still dare to speak with longings that
sound a little crazy, so they stay silent within us. 
And it is lonely in there. 
We keep doing the next thing until the next thing
is the last thing we want to do. It seems to make more
sense to go ahead and let it be the last thing. Succumbing
wants to trump over plodding. Plodding along is heavy work, 
getting nowhere fast. 

Until those three minutes happen while you are plodding along
in the same oblivious fashion as usual (since the terrible thing), 
and something soft captures you. The crushing pestle has
left some pliable powder, sifted a bit—
ready to turn into something.

Like peace. Just for a little while. The first time it happens, you
feel a little guilty, thinking yourself disloyal not to be grieving every beating second. 
So, you head back to the sorrowing spot where it has been comfortable, familiar. 
But a few days later, it happens again, but this time, it lasts a little longer. You can’t help it. It’s just there. 
You can be sure all those tears had something to do with it. 
Jesus weeps too--every time we do--in enough welcoming places to
fashion a steam of water, with just enough refreshment. Weeping waters, though anguishing, do not dissolve into nothing.  Collected by Jesus, they are held as precious, pregnant with drops of love and comfort. Pure sacramental restoration, 
beginning as a drip and graduating to dousing.  
Sounds heretical, borderline unkind, to talk like this while the gone thing
is still causing so much havoc in our souls, but it is the story of God in our lives. 
God has this insatiable habit of highlighting the beautiful side of ugly. It is uncommonly common—a distinguishing marker of our set-apartness. The mysterious
reality of all things sacredly astonishing.

Believe this only a little bit? Just a smidgen? That’s enough. The lamenting is long. 
There is time for it to bear the most luscious of all fruit. Until then, just enough is more than enough where there already seems to be nothing. 
Jesus turns nothing into something. 
Something like breathing again. 
Something like life. 
Something like hope.

Photo by Shawn Bailey

Photo by Shawn Bailey

The Tree and The Scepter

by Ashley Bonner

Sabbath, it begins in groaning.
Gloom and black abyss surround,
Joined with dry wind, still bemoaning
The cursed tree upon the Skull Mound.

Blood watered long and deep today
Ashen, rigid branches, bare
Of life, but to what?  Only dismay
And grief, His orphans in despair.

Day of rest in silence we spend.
Tender, vacant eyes proclaim
Our Rabbi, Redeemer, Healer, Friend
Lost to Sheol in bitter shame.

Spectres chase away our sleep.
Hollows hallowed, they whisper in wait
Of a germination, a breaking deep
In the earth outside the city gate.

Awake, O sleeper!  Come and see!
O children, your Lord - He is risen!  He lives!
The branches give vines and leaves.  The tree
That once was wretched, life He gives!

Morning brings the flowers soft -
Crimson, indigo, and gold - 
Creeping up to raise aloft
Praise and love of Messiah foretold!

Death, it is conquered!  Water and blood
Birthed life from the dust of Adam's bone.
The tree - Your scepter - like Aaron's it shall bud
Evermore beside David's unending throne!