Sunday, February 24, 2013

Penitential Psalm for the Second Sunday in Lent (Genesis 15)

And God said to Abram:
Stick with me, like a good husband 
or a good dog
or a Hollywood agent who has lost his mind 
and doesn't know when to jump off a sinking ship 
because he's actually grown to like or at least not detest his performing client,
and, lo, I will give unto thee an extra syllable in thy name.

And, about all your concern, your shame,
that your slave child not be your heir
ahh . . . OK, it's just going to be too many years until the New Covenant
so I guess I just can't get into that with you right now
(you wouldn't understand that a slave can be a savior too)
no matter how old you are and how patriarchal and all
(and, again, as I've told you, I do appreciate that long journey from Ur town)
so, alright alright, you will have a child and he shall be called--
Isaac, which means something like "the seed of Abram with an extra syllable."

Pay attention: 
you see the stars
up there, look up there,
your descendents will be like that
uncountable and, frankly, unaccountable, given your age
and the strength of your "loins,"
and to prove it to you here is what I'll do--
you cut up some animals (but NOT the birds) and everything will get very dark and gloomy 
and then there will be fire kind of thing in the middle of them
and then ye shall know that the Lord your God passeth through the cut up animals 
(except for the not cut up dead birds) like a fire kind of thing
in the dark gloominess of your desolation and so on. 
Really, did I just say that, Abram?

I don't know. Listen, here's the thing that matters.
Your dark journey into the wilderness, 
your trust in the One who has not yet delivered on his promise,
who "proves" his promise with a fire thing in the middle of cut up animals--
through all this, you have stayed with me,
you have kept up the questions, the argument,
kept moving in this strange direction.
You hang on me like a nursing child,
your nails are deep deep in Yahweh's flesh,
I have seen your tears (have you seen mine?)--
I mean, thank you for your fierce grip.
Holding on is the only righteousness.

I know the past has been a wilderness, isolation, the absurd,
but this story, ours, is not about the past.
Look up at the stars, I said,
find us there.
I need to use your name, with every syllable I will give you,
I need to say to the world
he hung on me like a nursing child
his story was mine, mine his
I know his nails in my flesh
he tastes my tears in his mouth
he drove the birds of prey away from my carcass
he stayed with me.

Your name will mean "one who won't let go." 
And you will be the father of those who hold on. 

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