Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 2)

(John 3: 1-17)

You are returning from
seeing the rabbi
from Nazareth,
making your way past
doorways of shadows,
past the street corners’
intersecting griefs,
past the windows
where ghosts lean out
to question the sky lit by
the same stars that held
promise for Abraham
so long ago.

Long ago you stopped
asking the stars for clarity.
Long ago your heart
became evening,
gray and empty
as old promises
of a new kingdom
of God.
Long years you’ve seen
the same twilight
in faces at the temple.
When, and how – you hear
saddened eyes asking –
will our dying hopes
be lifted?
When, O Lord, will
we see new life?

You have asked
those questions,
searched parchment
for answers.
But tonight you walked
these streets to meet
this new rabbi,
this one who breaks patterns,
this challenger of authority,
this maker of wine
from simple water,

to hear words like
a light flickering
at the edges
of sight,
a lamp kindled inside
a side room:

Be born of the Spirit, of
the wind,
he tells you,
to see
the kingdom of God

as if to say that
the kingdom
you long for is
not a thing that you touch
as much as something
like the wind
that touches you –

For the Son of Man,
Jesus says,
will be lifted up
like Moses’ sign
in the desert
to save from their dying
those who believe.

Can words become stars
of fresh promise?
Can the wind bring
new breath to the earth?
Can someone whose heart
ceased dreaming long ago
begin again with this
listening tonight?

. . . You are returning
from seeing the rabbi
from Nazareth.
still hold onto
shadows. Streets remain
intersected by grief.
Your mind remains filled
with many questions.
But the fragrant air is moving.
It stirs leaves
on many branches.
You can almost imagine it
making dust into starlight;
and somehow the shadows
seem less daunting.

You feel almost as if
breath itself has taken
new shape within you:
the shape that hope forms
when it is growing anew.
For you may not understand
all that he means by
being lifted,
but you believe he brings
the kingdom, nonetheless:
the kingdom that is
life with the nature
of the eternal:
the life that is God’s Spirit
touching you.

Do not wonder
at that which stirs
within you, Nicodemus.

It is your heart
becoming morning
once again.