Fear, Fear Not

You shall fear only YHWH your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name (Deuteronomy 6:13)

After these things the word of YHWH came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. (Genesis 15:1)

For I YHWH thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (Luke 2:10)

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last (Revelation 1:17)

Fear Full:

I tire of fearing Him
I have sworn off worship

I have no shield
I dare not expect a reward

My right hand encloses only emptiness
While I wait for help

My ears ache with listening
For tidings of any joy

I cannot see beyond my fear
Had I a soul, it is but a dead thing

And yet, and yet

Fear Not:

If I just close the book
Let theologies lie crumbling
Like last year’s leaves

Small flowering ajuga
Under the maple tree
Comforts my eyes

Banks of white azaleas
On each side of the front porch
Shield the house

Soldier-straight tall irises
Encircling the mailbox
Brush my reaching hand

The backyard bird
Unseen but insistent
Sings to me of cheaper, cheaper joy

I need no vision beyond this world
I need no soul beyond this contentment
Here is the first, middle, and last

Faith, the fearful first
Hope, only hope, the muddled middle
Love, the longed for last

The Work of Wings

[This poem is more or less a meditation on Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, God’s Grandeur]

For Hopkins
The work of ah! bright wings
Is not to fly
Spread wide
Snowy white
Unmarked unmarred
Pristine pure
Holy wholly other
Above our too dirty world
Broken by our own bombs
With cratered hope
Rubbled dreams
Too ruined for rescue

Ah, no
Those bright wings
Wings of the Holy Ghost
Do not spread wide
To fly, untouched, away
But to wrap our brokenness
Close, so close
That our labored breath
As the psalmist’s weaned child
On the mother’s breast

Hidden within those ghostly
Bright wings
We yet continue to cry
Continue to try 
For peace
That peace 
We are told
That passes understanding

Perhaps -
I dare to hope
I try to breathe -
That peace beyond understanding
Is not beyond
Those ah! bright wings


At 73
I think I know, finally
how to embrace life:
aware of the wounded spots
that will cry out if I hug too tightly

Those wounds I inflicted
with the flicked whip
the pointed thorn
the hammered nail

Too often, I think,
I have nailed life to the cross
of my expectations
hoping to bleed satisfaction
from the wounded body
raised high on the cross
of my hopes
nailed hard to the cross
of my fears

I stood at the foot
of the cross of life
aghast at my own cruelty

Tenderly I lifted life from the cross
cradled life in my arms
buried life in the garden of my heart
enclosed by the stones of my sad knowing

And then, again and again,
I marveled as those stones
proved flimsy
no match for the power of life
new born but no infant
shining forth
freed from my tomb

Ah yes, again and again
have I marveled
at life

Until, again and again,
I put life on trial
and began to look again
for the whip, the thorn, 
the crucifying cross

or maybe choosing to ignore
Life’s resurrection power