I will praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Even when my blessing seems a meager portion–
Even when I am incapable of understanding
The awesome blessing of being loved by I AM.
Forgive, oh Lord, your oft ungrateful servant
Who would just as soon strike his fellow man
For crimes less grave than those I have committed
Against You, my gracious Master and loving King.
Your authority and grace bewilder your servant–
How they intermix and combine into Fatherly love.
Far beyond my comprehension are such things;
I can only ask for the wisdom to understand in time.
Often I have wondered what the water made me.
To new life raised through quiet waters,
I was lifted out of the old, tumultuous Self
And given freedom to live for Another.
With that act I made public declaration
Of my intentions to cut off from the past
My old life of self-aggrandizing indulgences
And swore an inward oath to the same.
How I have failed, over and over, and again!
How I have drifted into self-love and ego
Masked with purer intentions and longings!
Where is that oath now? How far I’ve come…
Failure weighs on me until my chest is crushed
And the breath is driven from my lungs,
Fighting for air, clawing my way through the water,
Desperate to reach the grace of the surface.
Sometimes I wonder if I came to the water too soon.
But here you are: a newborn of that second-life
Declaring the same to a family not of blood–
At least, not the way the world talks of it.
My hope is that the water changes you in other ways,
That when your eyes are opened, you see clearly–
And not only the bad; for my only hope is this:
That the water is not done making me.
The sting of your words is a bitter reminder
Of the betrayal by cowardice I gave to you
On the night of all nights when you wanted me
By your side, which was then pierced for me.
But now your gentle voice pierces my very soul,
Telling me to say today what I then could not;
You grieve me to demand an answer to questions
That I have asked myself a thousand times since.
I do not know how I, the thrice-denying devotee,
Could feed your lambs or tend your sheep.
How can I, who lacked the strength to stand with you,
Turn again so as to strengthen my brothers?
And yet you ask, “Do you love me more than these?
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Oh, Lord, you know–you know; and I will follow.
If your wrath were against the mountains,
How should they stand?
If your anger were against the rivers,
Would they not dry up?
Should you turn your back on the sun,
It would grow cold in the sky.
Were you to withhold your blessing,
The trees and the grass would perish.
And if your displeasure was with me,
What could I do?
If another had not taken my place,
How should I stand?
Loathe was I to cast you off,
To pluck the flower and the thorn
That tore at my side and pierced the heart.
And even though you’ve returned,
My love is still gone–wherever you left it,
Somewhere outside downtown San Diego.
Who were you, oh man,
To play Savior to the world,
Or even one girl?
Your life so full of the holes and scars
You dug for yourself over and over,
Trying to recreate what you never truly knew.
Did you discover happiness? Love?
Of course not. Though you strived for–
Though you hoped for–something impossible.
What did you find in place of these?
Some pain if you’d let yourself feel it,
betrayal if you’d name it, and humility.
And here you are, by grace–
There’s no other name for it–
Generally unscathed. And wiser.
Life is unfair, it’s always been said,
And so it is: unjustly have I been treated,
Given mercy where I do not deserve it.
Somehow, justice and mercy coincide;
Though from my view, mercy triumphs,
I know my debts were paid long ago.