Poem: Temptation



Standing outside the church,
you are tempted
to go in.

You walk close.
You peer in the windows
and see the pews, warmly lit by the sunlight,
the patina of the wood gleaming
less by wax than use.

There are candles on the altar,
their flames small and still,
their reflection shimmering against the brass cross
in the center.

No one is there just now.
It is empty and there is peace there,
none of the drama or judgment or soul shouting
that drove you away so long ago.
Only the peace that you once loved,
that you love still
and seek still.

To this day you do not know
if you were driven away, or if you fled;
whether you were too blinded by human flaws
to see God any longer, or
whether you were seeking in the wrong places,
the wrong ways,
somehow sure what you wanted
was just beyond.

All you know is that you have not found the peace
anywhere else

You are tempted
to go in.

Tempted, and yet, afraid.
Afraid your soul may become too full,
that you may become too much
to live without God any longer,
and that you might become fire,
like a candle,
into light and heat,
slowly consumed,
but not destroyed,
merely transformed.

About this poem

First: One of my favorite quotes is from Marianne Williamson. It reads.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Second: This is the first Sunday of Lent, and the lectionary scripture is from Matthew 4:1-11, the story of the Temptation of Christ after 40 days and nights in the desert. It occurs to me that in a way, the bigger temptation was for Jesus to be something other than he was. Had he succumbed to the devil’s temptation, he would have become less than he was, by trying to show himself as being more.

Life is strange. So is this poem, which came from those two things.




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