Friday, July 02, 2021

Cross of Sticks


The winter night curls round me like a cloak,

The rain outside falls heavy, hard, and stark;

And I lift up this simple cross of sticks,

And finger the rough texture of its bark.


Its prickling on my skin encourages,

Because a cross should not be comfortable.

The least response should be a great dis-ease,

And my defences all made breachable.


This world – it overflows with suffering,

While I sit warm and dry and snug and fed,

With all my needs supplied so easily.

I have no fears about my daily bread.


From snug to smug is but a little stroke,

A line too easily crossed by such as I.

Oh may this cross stand as a warning fence,

Lest I should shrug it off without a sigh!


May I be taken back (again, again)

To that stark, dreadful place where God and man

Collided with such cataclysmic pain,

And see once more the truth of what I am.


And know that I can never make it right:

Exposed there as a useless, broken thing,

Yet one that God will never cast aside.

He holds me close through all my wandering.


He holds me close. And he lifts up my head,

Till all I see is love enveloping,

And reaching to embrace this whole mad world,

The only grace that holds up everything.


And thus their pain is mine, and mine is his.

This little cross must teach me how to pray:

No gilding here, no fancifying truth,

But only stark, pure mercy every day.

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