We left you there upon the mountain, Lord.
The safest place for you – or well, for us –
well insulated from the crowd’s demands
for things that we, in truth, cannot provide.
If you are there upon the mountain, Lord,
then you will not repeat those awkward words,
“You give them something now to eat.” With just
five loaves of bread at hand (as well you knew).
If we had known about that pair of fish,
well, that would surely make the difference
in our well-meaning cluelessness. “Bring them
to me,” was all you said, and all were fed.
So you are there upon the mountain, Lord,
and when we have once more resumed our breath,
when we are not so weary carrying
those baskets full, we will be there for you.
But now that you are on the mountain, Lord,
we find that we cannot return to you
with quite the ease we promised. Now a wind
opposes our return to land and you.
We’d rather be upon the mountain, Lord,
instead of struggling with our oars and sail
to make some headway into this head wind.
How can we find your presence once again?
But now the wind blows from the mountain, Lord,
and with it moves a terrifying shape,
a figure of the dead and of our deaths,
to take us from your side for now and ever.
“Take heart!” we hear. “Do not now be afraid!”
Oh, these, we know, are words of angels, heard
by those they summon to great deeds, the likes
of which are not within our feeble skills.
And, “It is I!” you cry, O Lord, a word
of doubtful reassurance. Who is that
who walks upon the gale-tossed sea? A ghost
we comprehend; a Savior, not as much.
But when you were upon the mountain, Lord,
we strove to come to you despite the wind
and now see you come to us, and how
can we do other but to meet you here?
So call us from the mountain, Lord, and call
us from the heaving sea, and may we take
our faltering steps upon the waves and reach –
and find – and grasp – your outstretched loving hand.
A poem/prayer based on Matthew 14:22-33, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year A, Proper 14 (19).
Panel from a Christopher Whall window in Chipping Warden, Northamptonshire. Church (St Peter and St Paul). Photo by jmc4 Church Explorer – https://www.flickr.com/photos/52219527@N00/5384683573/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18275704.