Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


Who owns the kingdom?

The following poem is not so much poesy as conviction in rhythm. These words formed in my head three months ago when I began to read through Matthew once again. His telling of Christ's story is, to me, of all the gospels, the one whose core thought is "the kingdom of heaven." Like a theme, it plays throughout the first chapters of the book, leading to the sermon on the mount when Jesus states just this kingdom is. Again, as I am each time I read it, I was struck by the way in which Jesus begins by deconstructing every earthly idea we hold of what a kingdom ought to be and who ought to inhabit it.

The values of his kingdom are opposite to all we value here.  We think the strong conquer kingdoms, but Jesus says his comes to the weak. In his economy, the poor are blessed, not the rich, or even the able. Blessed are those who weep, whose words are gentle. Blessed are those who make peace, who hunger, who suffer. All of it the opposite of what we know on earth. The poem below came as I read and was convicted of my own worldly mindset. Unconsciously, even I who have long loved God slip into thinking that the strivers, the takers, the winners of the prizes are the ones who gain his love and conquer heaven. How wrong...

The humble shall inherit, Yes, the weary and the Scared, bent-shouldered beggars Shall be give God's own Earth.

The poor are blessed, that truth's A hard, fast slap right in The brazen, stylish face I've Set to guard the hard-won Places that I've gained By dint of battle with My brothers, by my grab The prize and crush the gentle Hearted, mourning other Ones whose quiet eyes, And shattered pride reveal them As God's sons.

Be still and know, He says, But I instead grab hard, Live fast in fevered chase of Rest. By work and wit I win a fractured ease, And name it peace, I build A fortress for my heart And call it purity, My love locked deep away Lest any stranger think it Fair and free and for The easy taking. I am Swift and sober, never Weak or lonely, locked Up tight within my towered Integrity.

Until there comes a dawn, A dim and weary day, When grief has caught me, loss Strips off the gilded smiles, And the gaudy, pyrite Kindness, all my sleights Of soul to keep God's glance At bay.

I never really heeded Christ; I thought that favor Could be claimed by deeds; No charity for me. To earn, and own, my tiny Piece of heaven was My goal, to play the gracious Host to God Himself, For he might be the savior, But I liked to think That I was still, at very Least, the keeper of My soul.

I am impoverished now, And know I always was. No gold or golden deed Can buy me worth. Alone I bear the ancient dark Of ruined pride, and in it Find I am but dust A bag of bones made quick By holy breath, and even That is not my own.

The silence grows, a calm As of the grave descends, At last I rest. Now still, I am supposed to know... Just what? The shadows stir with breath, The dimness lifts, and I Grow taut in answer As the dark is brimmed With laughter, one small hand Slips into mine, a mouth Is lifted to my ear and says "Be still, be still." I yield, and find that love Can be so deep it feels like Death. Perhaps it is, The swift collapse of self Beneath the weight of grace. The Christ, the child speaks Again, "I am Your God, Your humble God. And now You're blessed beyond all men. For my sweet kingdom comes Unto the poor. And that You finally have become."