(A prayer)

Why should I open my mouth?

To speak what?

Prayers that you knew before

they even became language?

Fears and desires that filled your heart before they tested mine?

Delights and gratitudes – pale flickerings to the sunburst of your glory?

And yet …

I would give out a cry

that reaches to the last place in the universe,

is heard in the loneliest, most barren wilderness of rock and dust and fiery gas

of nothingness beyond all nothingness.

A cry that seeks the faintest echo,

the first glimpse of a loved one’s face

in the farthest distance,

the largest crowd.

The darkest night.

It is the cry of God calling to Godself,

God in the deepest, loneliest place, to God who is in all time and all place.

I cry out for you, and to you for all life, to all life.

I cry because I am alive,

and would live.

Why should I open my mind?

My mind has many doors.

And outside each of them, not only,

or maybe not at all,

a Christ with a lamp.

Instead a baying crowd,

some with their thorny crowns and lantern replicas, some with shining robes and honest faces.

‘Read my message’, ‘Take my card’, ‘Follow me’.

A hundred deceits, a thousand lost trails,

a myriad of possibilities.

Will I barricade the doors, draw up to the fire with a few familiar friends, and reminisce?

God, are you in what I know … or what I don’t know? Are you the fire or the outside?

Is yours the hand of friend or stranger?

I know the guru’s answer, I’ve walked this way before. But today, I’ll stand aside from that

winding and many-branched path.

I’ll rest a while on this bench of thankfulness

and praise you, Creator, for your gift of mind and your minding.

Why should I open my heart?

My heart is neither open nor closed.

It is the belonging of all that I care for; the receptacle of me,

the cradling of the child in me,

the shelter of my hopes and dreams.

Am I to let these go?

Empty out my shoebox hoard into some abyss? Let generosity leave me poor,

compassion leave me empty,

empathy leave me in pain,

care exhaust me,

love expose me,

let you occupy me?

Is that my purpose – to be some other me? And will that heart be open?

Ah! I see it will,

torn by a Roman spear emptied of all its treasures so that they can be


John Polhill