Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas, day 8. The Day of the Lord, part i.

Malachi is the final prophet in the Old Testament and his final verses promise that Elijah will return before the day of the Lord. The book as a whole is a whirlwind of accusations and indictments against a people who think they are religious but who have lost their spiritual integrity. It is a relevant read for today and I highly recommend reading it in one sitting. It won't take long. 

Then reflect on how 2600 years hasn't made much of a difference in our indifference to a Holy and Mighty God.

Christmas, day 8.  The Day of the Lord (part 1, meditations on Malachi)

Malachi 2:16b Guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith.

For calling the arrogant blessed,
we lost our blessing.
For calling the evil good,
we lost our discernment.
For offering blind and crippled sacrifices,
we lost our generosity.
For showing partiality in the law,
we lost our justice.
For breaking faith with our marriage partners,
we lost trust.
For not defending the orphans, widows, and aliens in our land,
we lost righteousness.
For using violence to protect ourselves,
we lost our security.
For marrying sons and daughters of other gods,
we lost our God.

Malachi’s litany of charges, LORD, so heavy
—My yoke is easy
besides, it’s all that Old Testament stuff
—My burden is light
You’re much more compassionate
—take My yoke upon you
in Your human-saviour role
—and learn of Me
those Mosaic covenant laws!
—my covenant was with him of Life and Peace
of course we’re better off now under grace

—guard yourself in your spirit

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas, day 6. The Double Portion--Otherwise Not

This idea of Elisha receiving his request dependent on his own ability to keep the connection with Elijah is complex. A deep reflection of spiritual truth: another "to him who has, more shall be given; and to him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

We are not pre-determined beings, not without potential. Our will, a gift--like our faith, is still ours. And God allows us the mercy to approach Him and the grace to receive Him.

Christmas, day 6. The Double Portion—Otherwise Not

2 Ki 2: 9-10 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said,”yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not.”

Otherwise not—the thing you ask
slips from your grasp.
The boon you strive and yearn to keep
lost if you sleep.
The treasure that his spirit bore
will be no more.
To gain the goal requires reach
to heaven breach.
Consumed by love, avoid the rot—

otherwise, not.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas, day 5. The Mantle and the Jordan

As Elisha now turns to his life without his master, he realises the burden that has been passed to him. And he now has no buffer between himself and God. This is a pivotal moment: when Elisha leans into the pain and loss and pushed through to meet God.

Christmas day 5. The Mantle and the Jordan

2 Ki 2:13-14 He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

My fingers sense its weave is rough and coarse
And more abrasive than a cloak should feel
whose years of wear, now gentled by the sun
Should comfort and protect the one it shields.

And heavy, O Father, it is not
The faded, time-worn thing it would appear:
Its weight is like the one which burns within,
Deep this loss of father-friend does sear.

Now grasp this cloak and claim it for my own,
But is the Spirit with it as I pled?
My shoulder feels the weight and years of wait
Within and desert scents the sandy threads.

Just hours ago he parted Jordan’s flow,
We crossed a riverbed of smooth dry stone:
Will I my father’s double spirit know?

I lift the mantle high and bring it down—

Christmas, day 4. The Chariots and the Horsemen.

Elisha's somewhat obscure exclamation about chariots and horsemen when Elijah is taken up to heaven in the whirlwind has produced much scholarship and speculation. Especially since this is the exact greeting that the king Jehoash cried when he visited at Elisha's deathbed. Is it a prophetic title? A reference to trusting God rather than chariots and horses? I love the mystery of it.

Elisha had a unique and deeply personaly connection with one of the mightiest prophets, and truly his grief was heartfelt when the time came for them to part. Sometimes we must grieve the good things, a wise friend recently reminded me. Because in this life, all things are for a time. So Elisha braces himself for life after Elijah and becomes a prophet deeply immersed in politics and calling people back to God. 

Christmas day 4. The Chariots and the Horsemen

2 Ki 2:12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.

Walking with a giant made me see things skew:
Dangers were diminished wherever God’s breath blew.
His strides were long and hurried; I trotted to keep pace—
He walked this world so lightly, his footprints seemed erased.

A father he became to me—
And through his eyes I learned to see
That things which I thought most profound
Were not as crucial as they sound,

And smallest details might inspire
Deep reflection on heaven higher
Than temporal thoughts are trained to go.
Then Israel’s horsemen took him, so.

The chariot drew him from my sight:

My robe I tore; took his by right.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas, day 3. The Prophets and the Leave-taking. part iii Elijah.

Today we reflect on Elijah's thoughts as he turns his head to the home he has longed for but where he has never been.

Christmas day 3. The Prophets and the Leave-taking. 

part iii. Elijah

1 Ki 2:11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

after years and decades
finally, this day
through drought and floods
hunger and raven food
alone and in a mob
at last, the wandering is nearly done
the homeless heads home.

No more starlight sleeping
looking in at bright fires and warm lamps—
No more pulling that cloak tighter
against the wind—
No more races with chariots
or fire bolts from heaven—
No more tantrums from queens
or “my enemy” from kings—

I’ve searched every scene 
for glimpses of redemption,
sure my God of Hope
would leave some signs:

few they were
shafts obscure
of grace eclipsed
by mist and shadow

now my soul rises
to the One I have awaited—

an ordinary afternoon
an unremarkable path
in mid-conversation
the gentle chariot pauses for me

he saw fire—I see Light

that lightens hearts of men

Christmas, day 2. The Prophets and the Leave-taking, ii Elisha

Today's poem is from Elisha's perspective: he has been prepared, but it's still a bit intimidating to take on the mantle of Elijah. Even the Elijah of Israel who hadn't grown into the mythical proportions described in Malachi. But despite knowing that he was facing much more than he could take on on his own, Elisha determined to ask the outrageous, the un-grantable: a double portion of Elijah's spirit. It is nothing short of asking for the status of firstborn son. But his audacity is encouraged and Elijah says that it is up to Elisha what he will get, how much he will benefit.

And we, too, if we come prepared to receive and ask for the blessing of the spirit, will receive it as much as we are able to take it in. This is a gift that depends upon the ability of the recipient to receive, not the giver to give.

Christmas day 2. The Prophets and the Leave-taking.

part ii. Elisha

2 Ki 2: 5 The company of prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.”

Today he leaves this wanderer’s life
for places of his dreams—
I don’t feel ready to say farewell,
Still much to learn; yet it seems

That now is the time to take up the task
he laid upon me with his robe.
Facing the struggles and hardships together,
our hearts are weighed down by the load

Of speaking God’s heart to people intent
on breaking it by their defiance.
This half-way existence of living on earth
while each step and breath is reliance

On Yahweh on high—sometimes it’s more
than I’m able to grasp in my heart. 
To continue alone is daunting, it’s true—
but I’ve been prepared for this part.

Closely I follow to Bethel and Jericho,
though he tells me I should stay behind.
“As the Lord lives, I’ll never leave you”, (for
there’s something I’m hoping to find.)

When he asks, then I tell him my deep heart’s desire:
his spirit times two, my request.
He says he can’t give it, but that I may have it
if I see him transported to rest—

Birthright  of firstborn is mine to hold dear,
the reward when I follow and persevere.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas, day 1. The Prophets and the Leave-taking. i. Sons of the propets.

Christmas, day 1. The Prophets and the Leave-taking

Today is the start of a three part poem about Elijah being taken up into the whirl wind. We hear from the perspective of the prophets's sons who knew that Elijah would be "translated" and were curious about Elisha's reaction. It is fascinating that they are more absorbed in the apprentice's response than Elijah's departure or what they might have learned of him. How often do I find myself sidetracked by a logical or worthy aspect and miss the main event?

part i. Sons of the prophets of Gilgal and Jericho

2 Ki 2:1 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

those two in desert sandals and ragged robes
a familiar sight hereabouts:
not your run-of-the-mill prophets,
but that’s the point, isn’t it?

in a good sense of the word

living in the margins
while we live in the middle of the scroll
—the message comes to them
they carry it from the edge

to where we can hear it
we halt over words,
stumble over letters,
living troubles us

they wander deserts,
commune with mountains,
connect to wild things,
making us uncomfortable—unsure

that ease on the borders—
on the edge
like the blade of a knife:
cutting, sharp

they balance as if by nature
they, at peace—poised;
today the old one goes
we got the message

this is a day to watch and
one day tell our grandchildren:
we knew,
we saw him go.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Advent, day 20. One Prophet and Fifty-one Men.

When Ahaziah fell through his lattice (one wonders what he was doing on it), and injured himself, he sent his messengers to Baal of Ekron to find out if he would recover. God intercepted them with Elijah's ready answer: that his life would end because he did not inquire of Israel's God--the only true God. 

Ahaziah then sent an armed military escort to bring the prophet in for questioning. In this poem I've treated it less emotionally and thoughtfully, more playfully. Not because the subject matter is playful, but because of how frequently we (Ahaziah in this instance) do not take spiritual matters seriously. Our light-handed approach is out of step with the weight of glory we encounter daily.

Advent, day 20. One Prophet and Fifty-one Men.

2 Ki 1:20 Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.

“Is it because there is no God
in Israel you can ask?
That you must send to pagan gods,
begging a stone mask?

Did God leave you to go your way—
or was it you left Him?
You’re fallen low and failing fast,
your chance at life is slim.

Because you chose the Baal of Ekron,
you will surely die.
Your false god cannot free you from
the bed on which you lie.”

This woeful news came to the king
by messengers he’d sent
to Ekron, but were stopped en route,
informed of God’s intent—

By one Elijah, prophet rogue,
Ahab’s nemesis.
Now Ahab’s son will take him on,
his soldiers must not miss

The wandering, hate-filled treason-monger
who prophesied all gloom,
whose very presence guaranteed
a pall to every room.

So captain with his fifty men 
marched off to find the man
who foretold Ahaziah’s death
and trouble on the land.

“Man of God,” the captain called,
“Come down off that hill.
By king’s command, I’ll take you in.”
That task he’d not fulfil.

“If man of God I am,” he said,
“let fire fall from high,
scorching all your valiant men,
and surely you will die.”

As he said, the fire fell—
and burned the men alive.
Obtuse and blind, the angry king
sent fifty more to strive.

Who met an equal fate of fire
when their captain called him out.
This enraged the king the more
and mimed his father’s pout.

Alas a third benighted group
was sent to apprehend
the incendiary prophet, but
their captain saw the trend.

With great respect did he beseech
the caller of fire from heaven,
“Please have respect and pity us,
we’re doing as we’re bidden.”

Elijah went with them and showed
he feared not anything:
all the men were witness to
the death of a petulant king.

There is a God in Israel, hear
and know His Word: and fear.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Advent, day 19. The Vineyard and the King

This is one of the well-known stories: Jezebel arranging Ahab's acquisition of Naboth's vineyard. Elijah is on the edge of it--coming in when the damage is already done. He is our
conduit. If it weren't for Elijah's confrontation, we might not have heard about this. The prophet has a role as voice for the voiceless as well as one who speaks for Almighty God. 

Advent, day 19. The Vineyard and the King.

1 Ki 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy?” “I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD.”

Poor Naboth: voiceless in his posthumous story—
caught in a vice between two evils
a rock and a hard place, a no-win:
defy the king of Israel or Almighty God—

All this fuss over a vineyard
—a convenient spot for a veggie garden
—a legacy of generations, God-established, enforced.

Not Naboth’s, this vineyard, to buy or sell
give or take, diminish or augment:
the land promised from Egypt days—
in perpetuity for simple obedience, no more
no less.

Poor Naboth: in a trap unsolvable, 
unwinnable, inescapable,
not a chance—no compromise
when the king pouted and the queen resolved.

To save his life—and his sons’—
do the unthinkable?
pay with what was not his?
steal from his descendants?

Honour he chose
no blessing or power or glory
but honour:
ignominy, his reward—
stoning, his fate.

So when the king gloated
vineyard-rich and bloated
with pride and greed
no wonder then, his greeting, “my enemy”

The “troubler of Israel” has become
“my enemy.”

On that stolen plot
—still God-designated “Naboth’s vineyard”—
a story foretold of retribution, 
violent, gruesome, final: 
dogs sated in blood,
bloodlines severed for all time.

“My enemy,” says the Almighty.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Advent, day 18. To Love and to Wait.

Elijah's life serving God is not what it would seem to us who read the highlights from chapter to chapter in the books of the Kings. The account reads more like a movie trailer with brilliant cinematographic displays of resurrection, fire from heaven, drought-induced famine, and heated confrontation with powerful royalty. But between those episodes of action and stress, Elijah lived a prophet's life on the edges of community, a marginal in most senses of the word.

As he approaches the winding down of his call to serve God, he possibly mused on the longterm outlook. He may well have been a big-picture, future-thinking man who saw himself as part of the Narrative. This enabled him to release any personal agenda he may have had and patiently await the outcome which he would not live to see. I surmise that it was a deep and lasting friendship with God which allowed him to follow a lonely path where often the signposts were obscure.

 Advent, day 18. To Love and to Wait.

Compelled by gentleness to serve,
by love to wait—
through years of drought, ravens of bread, 
jars of oil, threats of death.

To serve Heaven is to wait:
Such reckoning above and outside time.
Unseen, He works, I wait—
My service is to stand and wait.

Friendless I appear—
but within isolation
is a Friend closer than my heart,
more certain than a brother.

Not in my life alone, a plan that spans
across the reigns and toppling of kings—
valleys are filled,
mountains worn low,
crooked paths straightened.

That highway for our God
I will not see—
the end draws near,
but Friend, you chose a helper

—I will not go gently alone
but with the companion of Your design

not replaced,
but succeeded
according to Your time.

My soul waits for the Lord,
more than the watchman waits for the morning.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Advent, day 17. The Caller and the Called.

Today consider the man God chose to be Elijah's successor, Elisha. A young, wealthy, up-and-coming man, he had a vested interest in maintaining his status quo. But he shows no qualms or second thoughts about abandoning the security and comfort of his family to step out into risk and uncertainty. Particularly appealing is that Elijah does not feel the need to "sell" the call. There is no manipulation, no sound argument, no debate: he throws the mantle and carries on.

Our culture easily mires into debate and rationalising. When God calls us, are we listening or dialoguing?

Advent, day 17. The Caller and the Called.

1 Ki 19:21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the ploughing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and become his attendant.

(Told from Elisha’s perspective. Elisha means “My God is salvation.”)

The mantle of a prophet
isn’t like it sounds—
not like a royal robe or costly cloak.
It’s uncomfortable and heavy
and sometimes just plain smelly.
It rubs and scratches and can reek of smoke.

I was ploughing in our fields
when Elijah travelled through,
And he threw his mantle right across my back.
Of course, it was an honour—
my life direction changed—
when a prophet is your master, stay on track.

So to show I was intent
and obedient to his call,
I asked to bid my former life farewell.
The oxen pair I slew,
the plough was fire fuel—
we celebrated till the darkness fell.

Our family is wealthy
—father’s respected—
We’re known in this part of the nation.
A home-boy to serve
the prophet of the LORD:
Reminding that “God’s our salvation.”

Might seem like a comedown,
from our situation—
But I’ve known that I wasn’t my own.
And I eagerly anticipate
this rustic, simple life,
Despite danger and no place to call home.

Until God tells me anything is different,

Homeless I wander, a transient.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Advent, day 16. The Announcement and the Anointing.

There is not much to add here: this meditation is almost complete as it stands. It started as a completely different poem; however, this one emerged as a reflection on the significance of anointing, something very outmoded and foreign to us. It is a beginning point for our own thoughts about what God is working on and doing in our lives. How might He be changing our game plan?

I hope you enjoy.

Advent, day 16. The Anointing and the Oil.

1 Ki 19:16b “and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholath to succeed you as prophet.”

Anoint a prophet?
straining to understand here,
are You doing a new thing?

Kings are anointed
by prophets, false and true,
randomly or with grave intent.

Priests are anointed
by lineage, by tribe
like Melchizedek,
like the One we await.

But anoint a prophet?
anointing is so—
holy, official, liturgical—

So unprophetic!
You call your man,
Your call makes him speak—

Your words, in Your time.
No fuss, no mess,
and leave the clean-up for others.

Prophets are Your madcap jesters:
speaking dangerous Truth
in bearable portions.

Courting death by being messenger—
in their desert regalia:
camel’s hair and leather belts.

Eating the prophetic diet:
locusts, wild honey and raven-bread
always with danger in their words.

Prophets don’t sit on thrones
or wear ephods
or attend official events:

They evade and snatch
limelight with equanimity—

Doing the unexpected,
speaking the undesired—

Gifted conversation killers,
they stutter on small talk.

They smell singed, as though
burnt about the edges,
having encountered glory too up close and personal.

Anoint a prophet!
it’s inspired—
no one would have expected it!

How like you, YHWH,
just when I think I’m 
getting to know You,

You up and change
the game plan.

I’m in.
All in.

Here’s the oil.

Advent, day 15 The Return and the Reminder

After the LORD met Elijah and encouraged him through the still small voice, Elijah was promptly sent back to his prophetic duties, one of which was anointing kings. The turmoil surrounding kingly succession was ongoing in the divided kingdom era. False prophets were anointing kings, kings were anointing themselves, and anointed kings were assassinated at an alarming rate. This did not make Elijah's task irrelevant--just more difficult.

Sometimes our work is complicated by unnecessary misunderstandings, folks who don't see the overall objective, or an agenda that is too cluttered by trivia. Then we need a clear call to do the simple task faithfully.

Advent, day 15. The Return and the Reminder

1 Ki 19: 15-16 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholath to succeed you as prophet.” 

Retrace your steps,
Return to your foes,
Renew your heart for the task.

Recall your anointing oil,
Replace the king of Aram,
Reveal the next of Israel.

Remind the people,
Remember they are dust,
Restore My Kingdom vision.

Retell My Truth,
Rejuvenate My Justice,
Ready the land for war.

Resign yourself,
Rejoice in hope,

Release is your reward.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Advent, day 13. The Whisper and the Voice

After reading Elijah's "lesson in might"--that God is not in the cataclysms of nature, but rather almost undetectable in His immensity--we have a powerful image of Elijah standing in the opening of the cave. The surrounding countryside is devastated: upheaved, torn rocks, gaping ravines where it had once been smooth, and fire-ravaged, charred tree stumps. The prophet stands looking out on the changed landscape. His reaction? 

He pulls his cloak over his face. This is totally beyond him. God of the gentle whisper has spoken. Elijah, the man who faced down 950 prophets in a holy power encounter, has deepened his awareness and appreciation for Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is subdued. (And I chose to make this poem less dense by lightening it with his own comic relief: he probably realised he was taking himself and life too seriously. Who of us doesn't now and then?)

Advent, day 13. The Whisper and the Voice.

1 Ki 19:13  When Elijah heard it (the gentle whisper),  he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Not in the wind, or earthquake, or fire
Spectacular dramas of strength!
Lord God, Almighty, no one is higher,
Why do You go to such lengths
To elude and confuse and muddle my brain?
I wonder some days if I am quite sane.

Feeling deserted, that I was a token
Of faith, who to Baal would not bow;
Your prophets all killed and your altars all broken,
The people rejected their vow
To You and to heaven. They followed their gods; 
I was one, overwhelmed by the odds.

But when a small voice whispered my name,
I knew all at once it was You.
My fear I forgot, I was back in the game—
Please show me next what to do.
Here I stand with my cloak pulled over my face,
Knowing now that I’m standing by grace.

I heard the voice at the mouth of the cave—
His whisper makes me feel brave.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Advent, day 12. Nine Centuries and Two Prophets

Today's poem reflects on Elijah's 40 day wilderness experience which concluded with God revealing Himself in a gentle way and how that contrasts with Jesus' 40 day experience which concluded with the devil tempting Him. Each man had three "confrontations" into the supernatural, so much to take in.

Advent, day 12. Nine Centuries and Two Prophets.

1 Ki 19:11 The LORD said, 
“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, 
for the LORD is about to pass by."

Nine hundred years apart
stand two men
but the wilderness is the same:
sand and wind, scorpions and adders, silence and eternity
hang trembling
brushing the desert floor with fingers of desolation.

The Spirit drives one prophet out
The LORD calls the other near:
they both wait, expectantly.

To one: Go out and stand, I’m passing by.
The other bypassed.

Wind tears the mountains,
—tearing is for paper or cloth
how does one tear a mountain?
—shatters the rocks
gale force cannot shatter alone!
how does a wind, rip roaring, shatter stone?

Make those stones bread: feed authentic hunger
—see a need, embrace, it, meet it, be relevant
Make yourself useful.

Earth quakes and shakes,
crevasse jaws open wide,
maws swallow boulders,
teeth rasp trees with a smile,
gurgling borborygmus of the deep.

Jump those ravines
Leap from the heights and tall buildings:
know that you are safe,
protected by unconditional immunity.
You won’t slip because He doesn’t sleep.
Chill in the certainty of guaranteed spectacularity.

Petulant fire feasts on forests,
—licks her chops with blackened tongues,
relishing the conflagration
of her cooking:
the crust scorched to perfection
with the charred and lifeless creatures
baked inside.

Make it easy on yourself.
No need for theatrics,
skip the heroics:
A simple knee to the ground
is all it takes.
Merely a gesture of goodwill—
nothing changes,
nothing at all.

In the blink of eternity,
the faintest whisper.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent, day 11. Forty days and Forty Nights.

Now we enter into a strange part of Elijah's spiritual journey, but one with echoes throughout the Biblical narrative: his desert wandering for forty nights and days. This is a long period of time for us post-modern people to get a perspective of, especially when it involves no contact with other human beings and nothing to eat or drink. As Elijah ruminates in this poem, I imagine him mulling over other people's experiences (which he will have learned about as a boy) and attempting to bring some cohesion to it.

I have also fancifully played with a little prescience on his part: of things to come that he does not yet know. He is a prophet, after all. Above all, it is important to recognise that Elijah was in a frame of mind that helped him be receptive to God. That frame of mind was not a quick adjustment, but a quiet time of deep silence and solitude. Something our technology-driven life is in danger of losing altogether.

Advent, day 11. Forty Days and Forty Nights.

1 Ki 19:8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Sustained by such angelic bread, I sojourn.
Into the desert—the distance
deeper, farther, more soul desolate than ever—

Forty days and forty nights to the Mount of God
a day for each wandering year
brought by fear
fear which birthed rebellion
rebellion to break the heart of God.
Treading shallow graves of centuries
—moments in heaven’s time
—ghostly flickers in desert dusk
—mirage faces mourning the lost chance.

—that number again—

++the days to cover the earth with water
“Oh, Noah, send rain. Dust is in my nostrils,
caked in my heel-cracks, searing my soles.”
I dream of drowning.

++the days Goliath rose to taunt the army of God
cowering in their tents
—but that sling-wielding shepherd boy took him down
day 41 he was silent.

++the days Moses entered the cloud and stayed on the mount
what does one do
alone with God
on a cloudy mountain-top?
waiting, waiting
while stone is etched 
—two tablets
—inscribed front and back
—top to bottom
in God’s own handwriting:

with ten perfect laws for life, 
offering perfection within grasp,
alas, perfectly impossible:
now smashed stone,
descending from unimaginable days.

while I would never presume such proximity
—or remotely long for it—
Moses returned for another forty.

++the days the twelve spies reconnoitred
the milky-honey promised place
and ten said: too risky

“Risky for what?” I wonder
and the stalwart risk-takers persevered,
wandering till the fearful dropped like flies
—and buried shallowly.

where centuries after I would tread
—catching glimpses of their haunted fears.

Now my forty days stretch
reflected in the past
mirrored in the future:

++the days Nineveh will watch a
man of acid-eaten flesh
criss-cross the metropolis
counting down the days 39, 38, 37 . . .

++the days another prophet of YHWH
will stumble into this wilderness
for infernal ambush and temptation
of blessings,
and honour,
and power,
and glory
all on the wrong terms.

Forty days and nights
Wandering to this Mount of God—

What’s this? a cave

—time to sleep.