A Poetic Interlude


Partial Paralysis

Desert surrounds me
Sun, heat, sand – all unrelenting,
as far as I can see.

Between what was and what will be
I remain
unable to take the next step.
I came to this wilderness time
with intent
to seek You out in the emptiness,
longing to hear the sound of You in the stillness.
Yet here I stand
without moving
bound by shades of yesterday.

A man on a mat for thirty-eight years lay
waiting for a miracle in waters stirred up.
He could not move far enough, fast enough
to find wholeness
before the waters quieted and he was left to wait

How long have I lived like him,
lying in brokenness?
I remain unmoved, confined in fear ,
immobilized by doubts,
while those with power
walk all over me.

You showed up and saw him there –
restricted by  his body, limited to his mat,
unable to move beyond.
You assumed nothing of him
and asked if he wanted to be made well.
He explained his predicament but did not answer

You watch me limit myself
each day a repetition of routine –
wanting wholeness and never quite
getting there.
You ask if I, too, want to be made well.
My answer is no more direct.

You healed him anyway
with a direction to walk.
Did You see in him more than a
body broken?
What did his words hold out to you?

If I were to take up this mat of mine –
woven by others who would keep me still –
where would I go?
Did that man ever miss
knowing the limits of his life?
How did he bear sudden wholeness?
I’m not sure I’m strong enough
to walk away with You.

The man was paralyzed, at least in part,
yet he heard Your call to life quite clearly.
Was there a hesitation
between the Word and re-action?

New life surged through his being
as he believed
he could take up his mat and walk
toward all things possible.

Most days, I wait for the miracle
and long for the stillness of knowing
I can make my way to the waters
if I so choose.
But I cannot quite believe
Your call is enough to set me free from all that binds.

Forgive me
I want to be made well,
to take those first trembling steps
and bear the weight of my doubt
here in the midst of my imperfect life
bound to a mat woven
with so little justice.

I wait in this shaded spot.
Give me direction.

This poem is from my book,  Negotiating the Shadows: Daily Meditations for Lent. Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock, 2010.

RCL – Year C – Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 5, 2013

Acts 16:9-15
Psalm 67
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9


About rachaelkeefe

Hi. I am a pastor, an author, a painter, and a poet. My latest book is available now to order from Chalice Press, The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention (http://amzn.to/2DZ55EU).
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