07 March 2012

The Conundrum of Grace

"How do we learn to bless
     rather than damn,
           those with whom we disagree,
           those whom we fear,
           those who are different? . . .

All of Creation groans in travail.
All will be redeemed
in God's fullness of time,
     not just the small portion of the population
     who have been given the grace to know
          and accept Christ.
All the strayed and stolen sheep.
All the little lost ones.

To look for hell, not heaven,
is a kind of blasphemy,
for we are called to live in hope."

--Madeline L'Engle, Stone Pillow*

Test screen patterns showed up
after the national anthem.
We'd call it a screen saver today
but when I was a kid
it was the absolute sign
that there was nothing more to watch
you might as well go to bed
There were no infomercials to cajole
credit card information,
no "call in the next five minutes"
for an extra bonus
or free shipping.
There was just that test pattern,
the profile of an Indian, why?

Simple, straight-forward,
no guesswork allowed
or needed.
Ten Commandments easily memorized.
Right and wrong simple to identify.

We learned the nuances later,
if we learned them at all.
Some got caught in a permanent fog.
Others lived within the sharp borders
of certainty, control.

At the jail
I carry a message of freedom
and take note
of the pages of rules
     taped to the walls
and the court-ordered time
and the institution-issued clothing.

How valid is the message?
Do I even believe it?

"All will be redeemed,"
the poet says.
the grand totality
every thought
every word
every action 
ever intention

all of it
all of us

A saint once said, "We won't get to heaven
until we all get there." 

Every day I spend at the jail
I believe it
more and more.

*Madeline L'Engle wrote this as prose. I broke it into poetry to savor the words. And I borrowed it from The Mercy Blog where Mike Farley writes exquisitely about God's mercy.


Teresa said...

I have missed you ! Great post.

Shannon said...

Teresa, thank you! It HAS been a while, but I hope to be here more regularly again.

Sherry Peyton said...

It's been a while Shannon, but you came back with a winner. Thanks for wonderful thoughts to guide us this Lenten season. Blessings!

Tamara said...

How I have missed you blogging! Then to break the fast with this wonderful piece! An excellent read.