Climbing

Then [Elijah] lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. – 1 Kings 19:-6

I know just what you will say, LORD.
“What are you doing here?” you’ll ask.
Oh, I will have an answer, which
will not be any good as an excuse.

Still I climb the mountain, seeking you,
though you have never been so far before
amidst the labors and travails and trials.
Still now, yes now, I journey and I climb.

I’ll tell you I was running to you, and
we neither of us will be much deceived.
I’ll tell you I’m the only one, and yes,
I know as well as you the truth of that.

Amidst the carnage of the wind I’ll stand,
amidst the terror of the quaking earth the same,
against the roaring of the flames I’ll bare my face,
then hide it from you when your stillness comes.

How pointless is my journey and my climb!
I know full well the words I’ll hear: “What are
you doing here?” And I will have no answer
but to whine, and sigh, and wait for what come next:

Your next assignment, roles familiar:
enlist new friends and colleagues to the work
of justice-making, faith-inspiring,
community-building, righteousness-living.

You’ll send me back and chide me
that I thought I was alone, as there were not
countless people who, in their imperfect way
live humble, faithful, righteous lives.

But God, when I am humbled by
your so appropriate rebuke, I’ll cling to this
remembrance as I turn the journey from
the mountain and am homeward bound:

When I was running needlessly and weary
beyond thought or strength, you came to me.
Just like the angel fed Elijah when he fled,
you gave me comfort, solace, rest,

Before you pushed me down the mount again.

A poem/prayer based on 1 Kings 19:1-15a, the Revised Common Lectionary Alternate First Reading for Year C, Proper 7 (12).

The image is The Prophet Elijah in the Desert, a sketch by Alexander Ivanov (19th cent.) – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9087568.

In the Silence

“And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” – Mark 1:18

Here you come again, O Jesus,
striding on the (rocky? sandy? weedy?) shore
to where I’m busy – busy, Christ, I tell you! –
with the labor of your call.

And you – oh, you – you have another call,
I’m sure, to summon me away
from this old fishing style to some new one,
from catching those… well, catching… what?

For if I am a fisher, then I fish the ponds
of fish you’ve caught before, and rarely reach
the waves upon the beach, and never stretch
beneath the ocean billowing.

Instead, I try to show the long-caught fish
just what it is to be a fish of yours,
to be a fishing fish, a loving fish,
a sharing-of-your-loving fishing fish.

As dear Mark left unspoken your
persuasive words to Simon, Andrew, James and John,
I wait within the silence yet to hear
your summons to be…?

A poem/prayer based on Mark 1:14-20, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Third Sunday after the Epiphany.

The image is a painting of the call of Simon and Andrew in the La Barca de la Fé, Templo Parroquial de San Andrés Buenavista, Tlaxco, Tlaxcala, México. Photo by Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca – https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltb/8399897831/sizes/o/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24055602.

Haul in the Nets

“Haul the net in, Simon.”

“How can I do that? My hands are full with the lines of the net I just cast, Andrew. Haul it in yourself.”

“Must I do everything?”

“No. Just haul your own net in.”

Sigh. “Just give me one hand, Simon. This one’s heavy. First mine, then yours.”

Sigh. “All right then… Got my lines together. Here’s my hand. Give the call to pull.”

“Pull! Now pull again! OK, move your hand along; I’ve got it steady… PULL!”

“Well, you weren’t kidding. That’s a heavy net.”

“Thanks, Simon. Let’s do yours.”

“All right. Oh, look.”

“Look where?”

“Behind you, Andrew. There’s that Jesus coming back.”

“Did he leave?”

“I thought he did. He went down the Jordan, where that fellow John’s been preaching. I didn’t think that he’d be back.”

“He’s always been a funny one. Half a foot on earth and half in heaven.”

“Yeah. But here he comes.”

“It’ll be good to see him.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, here’s my hand. Let’s get your net hauled in, my brother.”

“Maybe Jesus will be impressed how good we are at catching fish.”

A dialogue based on Matthew 4:12-23, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany.

The image is The Calling of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew (Vocation de Saint Pierre et Saint André) by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2007, 00.159.56_PS1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10195832.