Stones, stones, nothing but stones!
And the weight of dereliction bearing down,
The broken places crushed, crushed down to sand,
And sand slips through our fingers, weighed with loss.
Here where the vulture soars, mocking our weakness,
And the carrion sun beats down on alien flesh,
And the heart is parched and aching, aching, aching,
And the dust dance dazzles our eyes into white-hot pain…
Here, there are only stones.
And the tempter comes, sibilant, subtle, softness,
Promising quick rewards, a sated heart,
Promising easy answers to our hunger;
And the soft flesh whispers yes, while the heart cries no!
And all around are stones, bitter, bitter stones!
‘Step out of the narrow way!’ he whispers, whispers.
‘Dance, dervish dance into power, take what life owes you.
Why would God wish you to starve, in this miserable desert?
It’s your own fault if you die, when the remedy’s in you!”
And they lie there, mocking our hunger, pitiless stones!
Christ, Son of Man, was mocked by the stones of the desert.
Christ, Son of Man, choked on the ash of our hungers.
Christ, Son of Man, learned how the flesh weakens, wavers;
And he declared he would not live by bread alone!
Still, they are merely stones.
Under the thorn tree, where the grit breaches our eyelids,
Raising up helpless hands, prayerful and empty,
Waiting on God’s own word, fast in our weakness,
Tear-emptied, vulnerable, trusting the Father;
For, if we ask for bread, will he give us stones?