I left home to stumble into the desert.
Exhausted and empty,
I watch fierce sun set over silent stones.
Stars ascend toward midnight.
The wind moans through desert canyons,
And clouds drift across a full moon like shimmering angels.
Broken and empty, I come to you, O Lord God.
In a desert midnight,
There is no smell of blessed fields
No fatness of earth
No sweet dew of heaven.
Under stars that blaze fierce and countless as dust.
The wind moans high above me, through desert canyons.
Clouds veil the moon.
Strong, shining faces of angels appear.
Lean down to earth.
Their glittering swords carve stones into steps to heaven.
Angels descend in silence to gaze into my fact.
Angels ascend in silence to bear my deceit away.
Then in a shimmering, celestial dance
Of turning wings
They sweep aside clouds.
I see a heavenly host as countless as dust.
I hear a heavenly host, their voices joined by joyous stars.
Glory to God in the highest.
And on earth. . .peace.
Their alleluias echoing high above desert canyons,
The Holy One descends from the gate of heaven
To stand beside my stone pillow.
To wrap my empty fears
In an eternal mantle of blessing.
To hallow the ground on which I sleep.
Michael veils the moon with his wings.
And the only light I see is God.
I left home, soul that raged with wild emptiness,
And in this desert wilderness,
Angels carve holy names for sleep.
They dance a path between me and You,
O Lord God.
You have found me, broken and empty,
On holy stones that ascend to the very gates of heaven.
And you have not cursed me.
In a desert midnight, I know
The smell of blessed fields
Fatness of earth
The sweet dew of heaven.
To laughing children who bless my tent,
To strong children who become tribes as countless as dust.
I will tell them of desert midnights filled with blazing stars,
Of fierce angels who carve holy stones
And dance with glittering swords among clouds,
Of hymns sung by joyous stars over Bethel
And over Bethlehem.
(c) ~ The Rev. Dr. Sheila N. McJilton
Published in the Anglican Theological Review
Winter 2000, Vol. 82, No. 1