I’m a terrible poem writer. I’ve only written two in my life. One was on the tragedy of homelessness and the other is below. I was reminded of something recently that made me remember this poem I wrote almost 10 years ago upon the end of an engagement that sent me into a dark night of the soul. That year revealed my utter fragility and dependency on the Lord. Sometimes letting go of another’s soul is the most loving thing you can do for them, especially when you know holding on to them will rob you both of your unique identities and thwart you both from discovering the joy, beauty and gems of life that God meant for you to mine out of the souls of others. Moreover doing what you know is right is not always supported or reassured by the emotions that come afterward. Emotions can be a cleansing of the soul but they are never good custodians of truth.
Like a Little Boy’s Toy Boat…
“Please God…please don’t require this of me…please don’t ask this of me, Father.”
“You must let her go, my son. You must lay her down. You know this must be done. Please, my child, obey and trust me in this.”
I bend to my knees…I let go…and like a little boys toy boat, I watch my dreams drift away in a current too strong for my heart to bear. My eyes struggle to pierce through a teary dampness to catch the last few remaining glimpses of a life that cannot be mine. The distance between our bodies expands until there is nothing left but empty space and silence. The wake of a former presence washes over me and I am left standing on the shore all alone.
Descending shadows breath across a snuffed out wick as the darkest night closes in around my soul. The ground disappears from under my feet and I fall into a misery that has no bottom. Tears cascade off my face like rocks off a mountain slope. Truth has broken through to the surface and it has shattered my heart into a thousand pieces. Black paint has spilled across the canvas of my heart and it has drowned out all my colors. Memories pass through my mind like shrapnel and the straining of my ears is only met with the deafening silence of answers. Hours pass deep into the night and the wetness of my pillow reminds me that my nightmare is not one of dreams.
The rising of the morning brings only the bowing of my head as I collapse into a pool of tears. The coming day seems as if it’s filled with dread. It stretches out before me like a road with no horizon. Its passing is long and lonely. And as I crawl back under the covers to prepare for a night without stars—the dam breaks again. Throughout the watches of the night my eyes find no rest, my heart is weary, and my soul is far from peace. The breath of God’s name escapes my lips more than once. . .
Minutes blend into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, and weeks pass into months. All my summer birds have taken flight and left behind cold, winter’s chill. The numbness of life is met by only the pain of sorrow…it continues to come and go like a silent tide in the night. Dreams, visions, and longings daily visit my tired soul like a hundred small deaths. The reminder of times that were. . .the reminder of times that cannot return. My thoughts are hollow, flat and lifeless. I try to focus, I try to concentrate, but my eyes cannot gaze for long upon my Lord for they are brimmed with tears. “It hurts so deep, God…I cannot get to it.”
I climb out of a pit only to fall facedown into another. And as emotions once again collect as tiny puddles in my hand, I cry out, “When, O Lord, will the dawn awaken and take away this shadow that has fallen upon me?”
It is then that a pierced hand stretches forth, reaches into the dark night of my soul, curls around my tiny and crumbled frame, and lifts me up high to a place where the tentacles of despair cannot reach. I am drawn close to a wounded side—a side which bears the marks of one who has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows; one who has treaded the ground of Gethsemene’s dark night and Calvary’s high hill. Strong hands that speak of the driven nail gently press against my heart and the voice of the Ancient of Days is not silent:
“It had to be my child, it had to be. . . I too know the pain of loss. I too have drunk from the bitter wine of sorrow and disappointment. You cry because your heart is broken; I cry because my world is broken. Will you go to my world? You may not understand it now, but only that which is broken can be used for mending. My world needs mending. My world needs me. True it is for you as it was for Moses, no man can see my face and live. The self, the original man, must shrivel up and die—and upon the soul will become stamped my image. Do not be downcast—Lift up your head for even now I am turning the water of your tears into new wine.”
As the sighing of my heart begins to wane and the misty fog of emotions begins to lift off my soul, I dwell upon the lessons I have learned:
We will meet the Lord in the furnace of affliction long before we meet Him in the air.
And in our Heavenly Father we find more than we could ever lose in the world.