As we move through a season of stark contradiction between the happy music in churches and the violence and horrific death in Ukraine, Israel-Palestine, and Sudan, between the fervent consumption of our marketplaces and the anxious cries emerging from our rapidly heating planet, two poems echo in my mind.
The first is a remembrance I wrote for our Roundtable Worship in December 2012. It is echoed by a powerful sculpture that resides in our home, a retirement gift created by our friend Charles McCullough, whose work can be found at this link. Its depiction of the Annunciation conveys for me the terror and yet the affirmation of the new life invading our own, of a light that blinds and yet guides us beyond our darkness.
There was a frightened woman laboring in hope and dread.
There was a man bewildered by uncertainty and want.
There was a brutal occupation crushing hopes of freedom and respect.
There was a light no darkness could extinguish.
There was a life no death can overcome.
There was a love no word can ever cover.
So now there is a circle where creation can begin again.
The second emerged only a few weeks ago, a flash of light and beauty from Rafaat Alareer, a poet who, along with his sister and four nieces, was killed by an Israeli bomb in Gaza on December 6. Because of its power and signal hope I share it here, not knowing what copyrights it may carry. The world needs to hear its message.
If I Must Die
If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself—
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale
May we all find a way to witness to a life beyond the tragic deaths around us in the coming year. Thank you for being in this circle.