Jesus, Unfolding

comments 12
Christ / Poetry

I met Jesus
while crawling
on my belly
beneath a rock,
scratched and bleeding,
panting with the effort
to catch a single drop of dew
with my swollen tongue,
straining to taste its coolness
before it swelled,
and gravity plucked it
out from under me.

I’d been trying the same stunt
every morning at this spot for three days.
Now I was too weak to move on.

At the last moment, I hesitated.
It was like the whole world hit pause–
as if my need had been temporarily interrupted
or I had been tapped on the shoulder
by a boy with cracked eye glasses,
asking for directions to the bus stand.
I saw minuscule, swirling motion,
the unfolding of light into color,
and the vision of an Ocean, dancing.
For a moment, I was Empty.

Then hungrily, I drew near,
grunting with the effort
to pull my carcass across the sand.
I leaned close, extending
my tongue through crackling pain.

“Not like this,” He whispered.

I heard Him, and I stopped.
I squinted at the drop,
at its oscillating structure,
at its whirling, sentient equanimity.
“Brokenness cannot carry what I Am.
You must do it.  Carry me with you.”

Without thinking, I touched the drop
to the mouth of a little glass vial
I’d picked up from an abandoned car
and carried across two state lines,
a mesa, through a committee of sleeping vultures,
along an abandoned set of railroad tracks
and past the dotted pattern of a running wolf–
hoping my scent was carrying the other way.

After it was in the vial, I sat up,
and then I cursed my fool self.
I jeered at the rock and smacked
my own head with my fist
and cried until I shook up and down
in waving, detestable heaves.
I hated my self for what I’d done
and for my crippledness
and for letting that drop of water
talk me out of the one act
that could have saved my dried out bones.

But I found I could walk, and so I did.
He never told me where to go or what to do,
but He told me other things–
about how the hills were made,
and the ravines carved out,
and the most ancient dust congealed into a ball.

On the fourth day I asked Him,
“How come if brokenness can’t carry you,
but I can?”

He told me how the very place
we were walking on used to be a jungle
filled with white, tree-climbing monkeys
and tasty nuts the size of a small fist
and fleshy melon fruits and yellow flowers
and even though the sun was the same then
as now, the place was surely desolate as hell,
wasn’t it?

But later we passed a grove of trees that day.
And a hummingbird hummed like they do
and did a zoom-zoom jig in very air before me.

The next day I told Him I loved it,
all of it,
everything,
even if was a naked,
sun-baked,
parched,
man-eating
strip of rock and cracked dirt.

Then that night it rained.
I held Him close to my chest
and we sat under a rock and watched
and I filled a canteen
and at one point I got up
and did something part Navajo
and part Scottish and it
yanked me in two directions at once and
very nearly broke my ankle straight off.
When I stopped I saw
two families and a donkey
gathered at the top of a rise,
looking at me quizzically.

We started traveling together.

I told them about how the mountains
in the distance had been made from scratch
and how rivers used to flow right where we walked,
and one of the little girls found a white flower.
One of the men was sick when we started,
but I gave him my vial to carry and Jesus
told him how stars conspire to make bones,
and bones conspire to stand men up,
and standing men conspire to make dreams,
and dreams conspire to make stars,
and by the time He got through telling that,
the man was a sight better.

We found the ocean eventually,
after crossing the mountains
into hills full of fruit and game.
One day I looked down in the vial
and saw it was dry as a bone
and I half to panicked.

Then I heard Him laughing.

“When did that happen?” I asked.

“When you took me in,” He said.

“When did that happen?” I asked.

Then He told me a story about how
the wind blew for years and years and years
and storms flickered across the sky
and men and women without thoughts
sang up the whales and the heavens
and leather-skinned beasts with horns.

Jesus is just how it starts for some of us.
We carry Him next to us until
all distinctions are lost.
And then it just keeps going on from there.

12 Comments

  1. Today I am obsessing over two little silver vials, seen just last night in the movie “Only Lovers Left Alive”!!! (there is a big flask featured, too, but it is the little vials that are continuing to make me drool today…those and the hearing of the sound of the Diamond Star of Centaurus sampled in part of the soundtrack). NOT a movie I recommend on for the brilliance of the story, but one if you love Tilda (which I do) and the idea of singing up vampires.

    When I get my little vial (which will find me one day soon…I feel another go on that roulette wheel of creation otherwise known as ebay or craigslist 🙂 ) I will so joyously fill it at your well of words M…words which always have the power to see one through any desert that might be dreamed real. Thank you (and Jeesuus ❤ ) for that. -x.M


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    • Thank you, Maren. Yes, please, have a drink of the purest fluid there is… Love… I like Tilda Swinton, too, though I probably haven’t seen nearly half of her work. I recognized her in that short you posted a few days ago where she roamed a stop motion world in a blue shower cap. Did you see the one where she was the mother of a violent son who did a school shooting and she played the ostracized mother? I think that was one of the last ones I saw, or the most recent in terms of my own chronology anyway. That was pretty intense…

      Like life can get sometimes. Until we get that drop in the vial, and it starts gently unwinding… I sometimes think of Jesus as a presence that can look any intensity in the eye, and suddenly there are two of him… 🙂

      Michael

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    • I take that as the most glorious type of recognition there is… Thank you for riding the wavelength…

      Michael

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  2. Beautiful story and imagery Michael. Carry the love in the vial of our hearts. I like the part about starting with Jesus, but ending with no distinctions. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Brad! That part kind of surprised me, too, but I realized in writing this that Jesus is like a catalyst into wordlessness for me. Nothing is outside of the space into which he ushers me, where we are all joined together in communion, a shimmering presence, a reality in which the word “Jesus” suddenly seems to connote a distance I cannot bear. We have moved into and through one another, are looking out through one another’s eyes…

      Michael

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      • I tend to contract with traditional language like God and Jesus, but am happy that you’ve found a portal to inclusiveness and communion. Then again, I rarely feel that union regardless these days. I must need a tune up!

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        • Brad, I totally understand the contraction. At least I’ve experienced something I feel is similar. Jesus is a word that connotes so many emotions and beliefs and should’s and should not’s to so many people. I guess somewhere along the way he became a backstop to my own heart until I was strong enough to claim it for my own. I think it’s a deeply personal experience, and I only talk about it now from a place of gratitude and joy. Backstops come in bountiful and countless forms, though, and I don’t think a particular form or language really matters at the end of the day…

          Wishing you deep feelings of union…

          Michael

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  3. There is something incredibly moving, timeless – and well, cinematic, here, as M’s Swinton and this reply suggest! Last night, Eden showed me the film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus — Terry Gilliam. Which upon reflection today, I found some of the scenes in this world of yours brought to screen – such parched crawlers with magical vials, near death dealings, desert crossings…toward the end of the film there is a long montage of Dr. Parnassus struggling through the desert for so long, unaware of his release. The final line of this trailer: “Nothing’s permanent, not even death.” Did you help with the screenplay, M? I’m with Amanda, too, goosebumps…better than the movie, and the movie is good:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-P9VbZKrMo

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    • Wow, that movie looks great from the trailer. It’s been added to the List. I am thinking that may have been one of the great Heath Ledger’s last? One of those bits of trivia that floated past from my subconscious…

      Thank you for the beyond-the-words resonance… All these dreams and realities are swirling together somehow, and it is inspiring to behold.

      Michael

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