Drinking in the Wind
after Jeremiah Burroughs
A hungry man may stand
all day with his mouth open
drinking in the wind.
He thinks the air
will fill him up,
and so he stands for hours—
mouth wide open,
arms wide open—
trying to eat the wind.
But he remains hungry.
No amount of air can satisfy.
The wind, vast as it is,
has not the capacity
to fill him up.
I am sure I used to know God.
I learned all about Him in school.
I knew all the things they taught
me to be true. Jesus was God
among us, and the Word made flesh.
The Bible had no contradictions.
There were more answers there,
than questions. Questions were,
one felt, somehow impolite. The
little bearded men had sorted
everything out already, in their books.
But they are far away now,
and I am drifting down the Elkhorn
in your canoe, to a greener place.
The questions are stronger here.
The heavy, bearded voices are lost
among the bird cries, the wind
in reeds and treetops.
And here with you, there is
such tenderness toward existence,
benevolence toward Being, such
freedom. Somehow, I am the more
certain God is with us.
St. Teresa to Her Daughters
It is no small pity,
& should cause us
no little shame,
that through our own fault
we do not understand ourselves.
Would it not be a sign
of great ignorance, my dears,
if a person, when asked,
could not say who she was,
who her parents were,
from what country she came?
Our own ignorance is
if we make no attempt
to understand our souls—
the beautiful & precious qualities
that lie within.
The soul is an enormous castle
full of rooms & many many doors
& in the centre
is the chiefest hall
where the most secret things pass
between the soul & God.
All the Christian life is a
journey toward this inner chamber,
full intimacy with the Divine.
This journey, sisters, demands
great humility & a reckless love.
When we proceed toward
His Majesty with caution,
we find obstacles at every turn,
are constantly fearful.
We dare not go further,
as though we could arrive
at these mansions by
letting others journey for us!
No, dear daughters,
let us leave both fear & reason
in God’s hands:
Our task is only to travel onward
that we may each find
the clear light
in the courtyard
of that inmost castle.
I understand rest only as
cessation of movement;
I comprehend darkness
only as absence of light.
I try to know God.
I know that I am.
I know I am not that
Creator spirit—even the
concept of a perfect being,
is far distant from my
But it does not matter
that I do not grasp the infinite.
It is enough to brush
the feathered edges of divinity
with my fingertips.
She looks like any other young black girl,
taller than most, long hair straightened
and pulled over her shoulder in a braid.
Her blue jeans are tight and low. Her tiny
pink t-shirt, American Eagle, matches pink
lips and nails. Only when she speaks
can you tell she’s not from here,
east end or west. Her vowels are shy, lofty,
her d’s and t’s too soft. Only by asking
would you ever know she is from Rwanda.
Yes, she saw her parents die, and many
others, too—slaughtered with machetes
by what the press called “Hutu militiamen.”
She knew these men as neighbors. Of the
thirteen members of her family, only two others
are left—a brother and a cousin, both babies
at the time. She has come to you for help
with English. She wants to go to college soon.
And so you sit with her,
and teach her words like “inordinate”
and “recrimination,” all the while wondering,
when Christ was growing up, did He hear
stories about the Slaughter of the Innocents?
Or did He watch it happen
with omniscient infant eyes
and do nothing?
This is the time
between the times
a place where all possibilities
the time of stillness,
between the birth of a redeemer
and epiphany of kings
between the old year’s dying
and the birthing of the new
a gap between spokes in the wheel
where burdens are let fall
and sins repented
And twelve months fresh stand forth
according to their welcome.