The Reluctant Child

She stopped the car once,
Not even looking in my direction,
And told me of the night
She carried us both to the intersection
And tried to do us in together.

You were there then.

Later, as she ironed behind,
A tiny child of two or three,
Playing on the floor while
A man spoke of You on TV
You filled my little soul

You were there then, too.

When I learned in dark attics
What little girls must do,
What the world expects of little things,
I still recognized You
Desperately alone, unvalued,

But You were there then, too.

And as my skin hardened
Under many blows,
As I learned to hide my little self
Away from all opposed,
In the quiet, secret places I withdrew,

You were there then, too.

Relentless years, relentless waves
Eroding the shoreline of trust
No spine ever placed designations
On the just or the unjust-
It was just another thing to go through

But You were there then, too.

Death I breathed, death I reasoned,
In death I lived and grew
But You, as Life, loosed the boat
And bid me not pursue
Peace, You whispered, Shalom-

And You were there then, too.

I passed through many hands
Most of them were rough-
I learned I’m too intense,
Too much to be enough
Only loved in short bursts

But You were constant then, too.

Endless stanzas can’t convey
The moments You indwell,
You led me from there to here,
In ways I may never really tell
But one thing I always knew

You were there then, too.

You gave me another soul
To cherish, honor, obey,
And he’s unlike the host before:
He’s better every day,
Faithful when I’d fallen through

You were there then, too.

And it was never about me
You came before anything I could do
Your faithfulness predates
The heaps that we pursue:
It could only be accomplished by You

And You were there.

Reluctant, I have grown
Head-shy like the dog oft-hit
Sometimes I whimper-
Sometimes I growl- or sit-
Or fetch with head held down

And You are there then, too.

So few speak the language,
The only one I’ve come to know,
And my shoreline’s still eroded,
But even broken, or lost in the flow,

One truth shines clearly:

You are always here with me.

Hallelujah, blessed be Your name-
Your incomprehensible ways!
And may this unworthy little tongue
Never cease to praise.

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