the Lord saith

honey and milk are aflow in the land

beneath the lushness of olives I stand

and sing the provision of God’s ready hand

and the Lord saith, I AM.

 

when nights they are hot and they’re stale and they’re old

but tears on my cheeks like the stars are so cold

and bitter as lead is the taste of my woe

yet the Lord saith, I AM.

 

cast from my comfort the wild to roam

seeking His strength but dry to the bone

waiting and knowing He’ll yet call me home

still the Lord saith, I AM. 

 

And the Lord WAS, and the Lord IS, and the Lord IS TO COME. ~Revelation 4:8

————–

That my God’s name is I AM does not cease to awe me. He IS – all that is good, that is true, that is beautiful. No matter what my own circumstances are, whether I am spiritually thriving, or whether I am wretched and lost and generally messed up, God is still God. Even in the darkest nights where I cast Him aside, God is still infinitely good and very much present – as His name promises, and I take comfort in that. 

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Psalm 23, paraphrased

Psalm 23:1  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 

[2-3] It was 3:00 in the afternoon, the quietest hour of the day. Most people were still at work, while those with night shifts were sensibly in bed. All that penetrated the grungy kitchen window were faint beams of sunlight and the indistinct chatter of children being dropped off by the school bus.

I leaned back in my folding chair at the breakfast table and closed my eyes. Why God? I asked.

The faucet dripped. Dripped. Dripped.

A long sigh, and just for a moment I allowed my mind to empty of thoughts. No worries. No anger. Just my lonely quiet.

I AM, He said, a voice soft as the afternoon sunshine.

[4] Half an hour short of midnight found me walking the two blocks to the bar where I worked. The forgotten streetlights cut deep shadows. I slipped through a narrow alley, its entry guarded by a broken figure lost somewhere in the needle’s dream. The walls on both sides of the alley were dark with age and other things I didn’t care to think about. Behind a dumpster a man and woman were at it. I averted my eyes, only to find myself looking into the leering gaze of a drunken man. He grinned, and wavered toward me on unsteady feet. Our father who art in heaven, I mouthed to myself, hollowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…

Bob greeted me as I entered the bar. “Hey kid,” he grinned, lacking teeth but not sincerity. He was a regular, homeless, living on the small check his son in Chicago sends him monthly. It was too small to feed him, clothe him, or house him, but it was just enough to drink himself slowly to death. I mustered a smile for Bob.

[5] 6:00 A.M. My shift ended, and I walked a block to the small patch of green that passed for a park. I settled on a bench facing the street to watch the world go by, kicking the heels off my tired feet. I sipped coffee from a flimsy paper cup as nightshifters dragged their weary carcasses home and cab drivers woke up to their first cup of joe.

I started on my sandwich about the same time the rain did. I liked rain. It was only a light mist, crowning my hair with moist. But now my sandwich was damp – though the ham was still good, and raindrops collected in the ruts of my coffee’s plastic lid. Umbrellas popped up like mushrooms all along the street. The crowd had shifted to office workers and businessmen with long, self-important strides. Dark suits and dark umbrellas. Like a funeral.

[6] The mission at 27th Street Methodist opened at 7:30. Old, brown brick with tall, narrow windows, designed by someone to instill good old-fashioned religious awe. The marble steps were slippery with rain, though it had stopped a while ago. There was a side door, but I preferred the giant oaken ones, heavy to touch but noiseless on oiled hinges.

From the tall windows inside, painted sunlight dodged pillars and flooded the still sanctuary, though dusk still shrouded the dais. Warm voices drifted up from the basement, where the homeless were now milling about exchanging greetings, and the kitchen staff was bustling frantically. I’ll join them in a moment, but for now I stood in the back pew. A sudden urge grasped me to light a candle for some forgotten one, but here there were no candles to light. I picked up a hymnal instead. It fell open to 437, It Is Well with My Soul. I whispered the words to myself, and they bounced softly from the marble pillars and high ceiling back at me, now colored with light. It was good to be home.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

A Darkness More than Night

A Darkness More than Night

city lights, in their multitudes
drowning out the heavenly stars
and smothering, within their bright noises,
the united wail of silent
agony


Call this a poem if you like, but it is merely a string of sentences I jotted down after reading A Darkness More than Night, yet another thriller/detective novel by Michael Connelly.  Like all his books, he throws in grisly details, adult content, and other unpleasant things.  But stripped of that, a very good detective story, like all his books.  I never used to like his protagonist, Harry Bosch.  But over the last two books I read, I’ve come to like him more and more.  In A Darkness More than Night, he and others are dealing with that deep abyss they look into regularly as homicide detectives.  And as one character puts it, “when you look into that darkness, that darkness also looks into you.”  That is the theme of the books: darkness/evil, and agony.  I like that Bosch had failings, very awful, yet very human failings.  I like that he gets a second chance.  I like that he knows his city.  And that he knows he belong there, for all its darkness.  For all its darkness, there is still light. 

These lines do not really reflect what I liked in the book.  They are merely lines, inspired by a tiny bit of the big picture. 

Much of this is probably not making sense.  So read the book if you will.  Much of this probably sounds like it doesn’t belong in a good old detective novel.  But trust me, it does not rob the novel of its thriller qualities, nor does it take anything from the plot.  If you merely want a good, page-turning murder mystery, this is definitely a good one.  But it also has real, compelling characters, which is what makes a good book.

-LS

The City

The City

A capital. An ancient city which stood
As a testimony to time.

A city of richness, of history;
Of dreams, come and gone;
Paths, upon which the great have walked. 

And yet also of darkness.
Of thieves and beggars and murderers;
Of intrigue, of knives in the back;
Of betrayal. 

Such was the Capital,
The heart of the land.
It may be dark, it may be evil;
But what day is there not followed by night?
What light is there that casts no shadows?
It was a city of the great;
Of the king. Of the people. Of the land. 

Of the past. Of the future. 

Yet it is no more. 

Ravaged, by they who do not belong,
Who come from afar. 

It is no more.
Ruins, of a song forgotten.
The history is lost.
The city is dead.
The land is dead. 

~

But some say that the land only sleeps.
The people sleep.
In the night. In the darkness.
In time, as the sun rises in the East,
So will rise the people.
In glory. In splendor.

 They will build the city.
They will wake the land.
And the songs forgotten will be sung again.
And the history will be remembered. 

And the city shall stand,
In all the trappings of the past. 

A city of the past. Of the future.
A city of dreams.
Of the land. Of the people.

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