6-25 Dusk to Dawn

This no doubt was inspired when I led a bereavement group at Daymark. Many clients suffered multiple deaths, some simultaneously, others serial and some suddenly and traumatic.

 

Dusk to Dawn

 

  1. Dusk of death

 

The sun plunges into black waves

That pummel me

For the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in deep mire,

Where there is no standing;

I have come into deep waters,

Where the floods overflow me.1

 

I gasp for air beneath wave after wave

in this grotto as the tide rises and rises

and lightning pierces over and over

like a tempest over the Sea of Tiberias but no one

rebukes the wind, and says to the sea, Peace, be still!2

 

They offer their hands and dry my eyes,

lift me to the shore where I sway at the sight

of a mast, listing back and forth

Bearing a torn sail. I groan upward but

He has cast me into the mire,

And I have become like dust and ashes.

I cry out to You, but You do not answer me;

I stand up, and You do not regard me.3

 

  1. Night of grief

 

The bed is a crevasse; its sides

of sheets are cold as sleet in polar winter.

I go to the place from which I shall not return,

To the land of darkness and the shadow of death,

A land as dark as darkness itself,

As the shadow of death, without any order,

Where even the light is like darkness.4

The empty room deafens.

 

They warm me with food and stroking hands

and read to me:

For the Lord will not cast off forever.

Though He causes grief,

Yet He will show compassion

According to the multitude of His mercies.

For He does not afflict willingly,

Nor grieve the children of men.5

The world spins at dizzying speed;

flesh feels like a thorn in the heart;

the enemy whispers dark lies:

He has also kindled His wrath against me,

And He counts me as one of His enemies.6

 

I dwell in Sheol.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death7

I do not feel You near me.

I do not feel You comfort me.

My God, my God; why have you abandoned me?8

 

  1. Dawn of hope

 

I sit in the upper balcony hearing Verdi’s Requiem,

a Mass for my beloved, who vanished from the bedroom.

 

Kyrie eleison – Lord have mercy

Christe eleison – Christ have mercy

Kyrie eleison – Lord have mercy

 

Libera me, Domine – deliver me, O Lord.

 

My heart sings this through the months and the first year.

The bedroom tomb is a greenhouse nursery—

Boston Ferns hanging from the ceiling

and a rosy Amaryllis bursting by the window.

Gardenia causes me to swoon.

 

The thorn is shallower. O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?9

Still stings, Lord.

 

But days are shorter, nights brighter.

You promise: I am the light of the world.

He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,

but have the light of life.10

 

Kyrie eleison.

 

 

1 Ps. 69:1-2, 2 Mk. 4:39, 3 Job 30:19-20, 4 Job 10:22-23, 5 Lam. 3:31-33, 6 Job 19:11, 7 Ps. 23:4, 8 Ps. 22:1, 9 1 Cor. 15:55, 10 Jn. 8:12

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