Other Poems

The Manger’s Reach

Oh, Blessed One, Beloved Abba, whose womb
squeezed forth all that is, humus and human alike,
animate and inanimate together,
sun and moon and galaxies without end.

Oh, Sweet Deliverer, fruit of Mary’s annunciation,
troubler of worlds and troubadour of heaven’s fidelity,
whose call to the table gathers the lame and binds
every shame with the promise of feast for the lost,
for the least, for the last, and all willing
to sing the angels’ insurrectionary song.

Oh, Wisdom of Days, breath of life in lungs of clay,
pregnant promise to Sarai and Abram, flaming
visage to Moses, whisperer to prophets and
confounder of priests. Answer to Hannah’s lament
and Elizabeth’s regret, tongue of fire on the
seer’s lips and Pentecost morning’s dazzling display.
Light from darkling sky that surrounds and
protects our way, even in death, sowing
Redemption’s harvest with each martyr’s blood.

Blessed be Your Name, that christening which
cannot be spoken or tamed but only proclaimed
in the risk of deliverance from the river of vengeance.

We gather at this portal of praise to lift our hands in
adoration: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,
for the aroma of baking bread, the jubilance of wine,
the kindliness of friend and stranger and lover alike;
for the sufficiency of grace and the warrant
of ransom ’mid the wreckage of wrath.

Yet we find ourselves, too, collapsed in the dust of
distress: Help me. Help me. Help me,
for the flesh we inhabit is shaken and shattered
by fearful threat and the agonized cries of
soil and soul who serve as fodder for the cannons
of discontent with your economy of manna.

As Isaiah foresaw: “The envoys of peace weep
bitterly; the land mourns.”* So now arise, as you
promised by the Prophet’s scorched tongue,
and guide us to the safety and salvation for which
we long, earth and earthling in concert.

Make us rapturous lovers in this rupturing season.
Deepen the capacity for reverence, sufficient to
sustain the risk of Jordan’s baptismal oath.
Oh, Shepherd of fearless night, awaken in us the
assurance that one day, in the crumbling of empire,
mercy will trump vengeance—that one day, the
Manger’s reach will exceed Herod’s grasp and
every child shall rest fretless at your breast.

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org
*cf. Isaiah 33