Poem: Even Without Words


Even Without Words

You wait in the sanctuary.
No one else has come.
For now, it is you and your God.

You have no whys to ask.
The body, for all it’s apparent solidity
is a fragile thing, made not for eternity,

but just for a time. Things break.
Things go wrong. It is not a matter of fault,
but fact. You are sixty four. This is not an unusual thing,

not a punishment. Not a test. Not God’s test.
The test began when the last suture was tied.
And slowly, the mask of pain medication was withdrawn.

This is a lesson you learned a decade and a half ago.
Let yourself feel the pain. There is no better way to know
when, and where you are healing.

Masking it is dangerous. It is addictive.
You have seen this in your father’s life,
and his nights of amber medicine that came to rule his life.

And never masked the pain quite enough.
No, you are more afraid of the mask,
aware it’s pain spreads more than the real thing.

You are healing. It has been three weeks
and it is slow, but not so slow you cannot feel the difference.
Now and again, you feel almost normal,

at least until you move. Moving hurts. Getting up hurts.
It all hurts. But that is your test. To do the things that hurt.
Like everything in life, that is the path to healing. More pain,

carefully and gently applied,
but without mercy. and that is why you are here,
praying for strength you do not have.

You tire easily, Talking is hard, your mind tired from managing the pain.
And your God, who knows all, knows this too. He lets you pray,
and waits with you, knowing presence has power,

even without words.

About this poem

I am healing fine. The docs say I am doing “remarkably well.” But there is and there will be pain for some time to come.

I don’t have a history of chronic, pain. I’d hurt myself or get sick and two or three days later, I was mostly fine. I am coming to understand what a fortunate life I have had with little pain or sickness to this point. And I am grateful

.One of the things I did not realize is how the management of paint saps your spirit. I am not much of a talker anyway, but I have periods, particularly early in the morning and late at night, when I hurt most, that I just go quiet.

That’s not a good thing, so I am forcing myself to talk. It’s just as much of the work to get better as walking, or going up and down stairs. Too easily the exhaustion and depression could become habit.

But it won’t. Not on my watch.

Thank you all for your kinds words and support the past few weeks. I am blessed by each of you.


PS: The picture was taken at Carsley Methodist Church in Surrey County, Virginia. It was my grandparent’s church, and in many ways, it still feels like my home church.



  1. I have chronical pain, arthrits of psoríases, 24 hours a day, I have to rest a lot and I do, I know you must deal with some pain after the surgery, but you are going very well, One day your pain will definetely go away, Best wishes, Tom.

  2. Thinking of you, and sending you hopeful, and healing, prayers, Tom.
    Thank you for reaching out, even though you are working through the pain.

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