Many years ago, while I was a seminary student, we had two Quiet Days each year. The first year, I decided that on every Quiet Day, I would use that time to write a poem or reflection of some kind. Earlier in my life, I had sent poem after poem to different literary magazines, hoping to be a published author. No luck. Time and time again, I got rejection notices–some rather abrupt, some kind, but with the same end result. However, amazingly enough, several of the poems I wrote during Quiet Days at Virginia Seminary were published–either in the VTS Journal or in the Anglican Theological Review.
The following poem was my reflection on Ellen Davis’ lecture on Genesis 22. This morning, I preached on this passage, and while I did not include this poem in the sermon, I am posting it along with the sermon.
Reflection on Genesis 22:1-14
Dedicated to Dr. Ellen F. Davis
You called me from my father’s land with promise of blessing, and I trusted You.
Hunger made Egypt my exile, and You delivered me.
The promise of son and land came again and again, in visions divided by fire, in
Heaven’s destruction of Lot’s family, in a slave’s weeping child, in the cutting of my very body.
Still, though I could not understand, I trusted You.
And when the white head of she whom I loved bent over this sweet promise fulfilled,
I wept and thought my heart would burst with joy.
Now You have called again, O Lord,
With a voice that slices my soul into countless pieces,
With a voice that burns the promise of stars into total darkness.
After so many years and so long the promise, will You now
Seize the heart of my heart?
And yet You and I have traveled long together, and I have trusted You.
So now, when You demand back what You gave, my questions stop
In stunned silence.
I cannot look his mother in the face, and so
We leave before light for the darkest journey I have ever known.
I face You on the mountain, and my white head bends over this sweet boy whom I love.
I weep and know my heart will burst with pain.
You have asked too much this time, O God of mine.
But You promised to provide a lamb for sacrifice, and so I struggle to trust.
I see nothing but hard stone and glittering knife.
I feel nothing but icy winds of grief that freeze my tears.
I hear nothing but disbelieving whimpers of my son.
The Covenant, O Lord, the Covenant!
Do not forsake your promise of faithfulness!
For high on this windy mountain of wailing grief,
It is all I have on which to cling.
© Sheila N. McJilton
Published in the Virginia Seminary Journal