Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Conversion of St Paul

Down into seas unreachable I fall
Burned by the bitter salt encrusting me,
Within, without, around. My body weeps
And all I am is rust, rust and decay,
And crazy laughter from the depths of hell.

It seems another life, another world
Another self, another everything,
Like a child’s toy moved to another pose.
I did another’s wish, thought it my own,
So dutiful, so proud of dutiful!
(Oh, taste the burning bile upon my tongue!)
A shape of dust formed by a desert wind
A self-imagined cutting edge of truth,
And all my glory seen now vanity,
And all my hopes lie crushed in self-despair.

How did I dare presume? Presume to know
The ways of Him whose thoughts are not like mine;
Who rides upon the thunder, clothed in light,
Makes stars sing in their places, shapes the sea,
To deep, on deep, on deep no man can plumb,
And sculpts each blossom, delicate as air?

And yet I thought I knew. That was my sin
Such arrogance as very devils wear,
To think that I could see the face of God
Clear in my own nuancing of the Law,
Clear in my  wrathful scorn for this new Christ,
Clear in my hate for all the humblest ones.

And now the light has shone and I am blind
Spinning down into dark I never dreamed,
All light has gone except one dazzling truth:
This Rabbi Jesus, hated and despised,
Condemned, so I believed, by man and God,
Has vanquished death, is God-his-very-self
Consuming fire that burns up all I knew,
And all I am is prostrate in despair.

Yet, from this place, this lowly, slowly place,
Where fire and worm eat up my broken soul,
I see compassion on His thorn-scarred face,
This broken God who calls me to be whole.
I see compassion, and it eats away
The very stony bones of what makes me
Till I fall shapeless at his nail-scarred feet,
He reaches bleeding hands and raises me.
Yes, raises me, His utmost enemy,
Undone by all my blackest, darkest sin,
Yet more undone because He loves me here,
And opens up His heart and takes me in.
And I remember busy temple days,
The stench of blood, the incense and the fire,
The long line of unblemished lambs that wait
Their turn to suffer at the knife’s desire.
And see, and know Him now, the Lamb of God,
Wearing my sin and dying in my place;
I see it now, my world turned inside out!
For the first time I recognise His grace.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Lynn, your poem on Paul's conversion is deep and beautiful. My husband and I are studying Acts in our Sunday School class, so this poem captured the facts as well as the spirit of our study.