Saturday, April 17, 2010

Of Walls and Altars

(Click here to hear the poem read)

It is easy to believe, after a brutal season,
after the walls around you have fallen. When,
eroded by time and wear, by
storms within and without, when

there is nothing standing, only
the whispering, devilish temptation
to believe what you see,
the rubble, the failings, the

destruction, the despair,
for you have seen it all crumble
with your own eyes, seen the weakness
of your walls.

Ah, but beneath it all lies something more,
a foundation, stonelike and solid,
still strong under the rubble, waiting;
waiting for you to begin the painful,

courageous work of pulling each brick aside,
of daring to believe there is more to you
than rubble, that the altar can rise
within you, brick by brick reused,

rebourne, not rebuilding the same structures,
but something stronger,
stronger and more aware that in the end,
no storm is stronger

than a stone foundation, and that,
despite what we insist on believing, the foundation
is not yours or mine to build,
and in that moment of realization,

the new altar rises,
even before you lay the first brick,
for it's promise, and it's strength,
is God's.

And your decision becomes one
of what to build, walls,
or altars, a fortress, or a place
to worship, open to wind, air, and love.


Ezra 3:3 reads: " Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices." This verse, from my bible reading today, inspired this poem.

The picture was taken a couple of weeks ago in Richmond, Virginia, near Maymont Park. You can click on it for a larger version.

As an aside, it's good to be home. After nearly three weeks traveling, with only a day or two at home the whole time, to sit at my own desk, sleep in my own bed, and read on the front porch while the rain falls and runs down the stones on the quarry across the street, is such a blessing. It's also good, because in times of travel, I seem to write very little, being too involved in the world around me, the work, the newness, to stop and do what is best for my soul... write.

Take care,



FireLight said...

My first time listening...and the voice is as familair as if I had heard it many times...that says something important about your writing, Tom...Am I repeating myself?
What a great foundation to begin a week where I woke up already too concerned with the world around me.

Leonora said...

Tom, I like the thought that the foundation is not ours to build. Ours is to decide what to build upon it, walls or alters; fortresses or places to worship. Love that last stanza.
Welcome home! said...

Nice poem. "devilish temptation to believe what you see" rings especially true.

Actually, I hate to say "nice poem" because the word nice is so bland. Better than nice poem. Thanks for sharing it with us.