Friday, July 16, 2010

Not safe

“Come near to God and God will come near to you” (James 4:8)

After years of growing up in this house,
after all the warnings and hand slappings
--I am well trained, I am cautious—
why are you now telling me
to place my hand
on the glowing burner?

I’m no astronaut.
I barely made it through high school
physics. And you ask me
--without the suit, no oxygen tanks,
not even a rocket—to take a stroll
through the galaxies?

The Creator of volcanoes, black
holes, caterpillars and the beans
that morphed into this cup of coffee
has invited me over for a chat?
How do I get ready? What will
I wear? And whatever—in heaven
or on earth—will we talk about?

How does immaterial immensity
--or whatever God is—draw near
to an infinitesimal speck—that would
be me—without destroying it?
Where is the place big enough
for the meeting? Will it be an open field,
a mountain peak or a mansion?
How do I get there? A little girl again,
I dare to mumble my questions.

If I manage to find the place,
do I just ring the doorbell?
Will I be able to reach it?
Will a servant answer? Or God
himself? Do we shake hands?
What if he hasn’t any?
How will I know it’s really him?

Definitely not safe. An invitation
to play with fire, to enter
the ocean and swim with sharks,
to draw near to unbearable light.
Not safe. Not safe at all.

(From a collection currently in process, "At the Speed of Love: Some unorthodox commentaries on the book of James," 2010)

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