St Thomas Didymus [the Twin]: Denise Levertov

And after the empty tomb
when they told me He lived, had spoken to Magdalen,
told me that though he had passed through the door like a ghost
He had breathed on them the breath of a living man—
even then when hope tried with a flutter of wings to lift me—
still, alone with myself, my heavy cry was the same:
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.

I needed blood to tell me the truth,
the touch of blood.
Even my sight of the dark crust of it round the nailholes
didn’t thrust its meaning all the way through to that manifold knot in me
that willed to possess all knowledge,
refusing to loosen unless that insistence won the battle I fought with life.

But when my hand led by His hand’s firm clasp entered the unhealed wound,
my fingers encountering rib-bone and pulsing heat,
what I felt was not scalding pain, shame for my obstinate need,
but light, light streaming into me, over me,
filling the room as if I had lived till then in a cold cave,
and now coming forth for the first time,
the knot that bound me unravelling,
I witnessed all things quicken to color, to form,
my question not answered but given its part
in a vast unfolding design lit by a risen sun.

Trauma center: Luci Shaw

Trauma center

It was never meant
to burst from the body
so fiercely, to pour
unchanneled from
the five wounds
and the unbandaged brow,
drowning the dark wood,
staining the stones
and the dust below,
clotting in the air
dark with God’s absence.

It was created for
a closed system –
the unbroken rhythms
of human blood
binding the body
of God, circulating
hot, brilliant,
saline, without
interruption
between heart, lungs,
and all cells.

But because he
was once emptied,
I am each day refilled;
my spirit-arteries
pulse with the vital red
of love; poured out,
it is his life that now
pumps through
my own heart’s core.
He bled, and died, and I
have been transfused.

Luci Shaw

The Way of Pain: Wendell Berry

The Way of Pain

1.
For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.

2.
I read of Abraham’s sacrifice
the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.

3.
I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grace, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.

4.
And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.

Wendell Berry

The Revolutionary: Luci Shaw

THE REVOLUTIONARY

Do you
wince when you hear His Name
made vanity?

What if you were not so safe
sheltered, circled by love
and convention?
What if
the world shouted at you?
Could you take the string
of hoarse words – glutton,
wino, devil, crazy
man, agitator, bastard,
nigger-lover, rebel
and hang the grimy ornament
around your neck
and answer
Love?

See the sharp stones poised
against your head! Even
your dear friend
couples Your Name with curses
(‘By God! I know not God!)
the obscene affirmation
of infidelity
echoes, insistent
from a henhouse roof.
Then – Slap! Spit! the whip,
the thorn. The gravel
grinds your fallen knees
under a whole world’s weight
until
the hammering home of all
your innocence
stakes you, stranded,
halfway between hilltop and heaven
(neither will have you)
And will you whisper
Forgive?

Luci Shaw