Tuesday, April 29, 2003

When Heaven Weeps, When Heaven Responds*

A thousand people sit
Looking at the back of the head before them
The building ornate with sculptures
Stained glass all around
Watching as a man in a robe talks
Looking up or looking down
Solemn words in solemn tones
He pronounces a dignified and reverent “Amen”
The crowd of individuals file out
They call that “prayer”
And heaven weeps

A hundred people kneel
Looking at the back of the head before them
The building austere
Windows covered, no one seeing in or out
Watching those around them
All kneel with their foreheads to the ground
On special rugs for this special act
Several times each day
Repeating special words they’ve been taught
By men who are “holy.”
After the final bow, the crowd of individuals file out
They call that “prayer”
And heaven weeps

A community gathering is called
A special need has arisen
Varied people from varied walks of life
The building used for assorted occasions
A woman walks to the music stand
Unfolds a piece of paper at the proper time
Where her name is printed beside the word “invocation”
Asking the group to stand and bow their heads
(it’s the way these things are done here)
She puts words to voice
Far away, very old, very formal
Obvious by what she says
At the end the crowd joins in
Repeating words from the Bible starting with “Our Father”
After the final amen, the crowd of individuals file out
They call that “prayer”
And heaven weeps

A family gathers around a browned bird
Pumpkin pies, cranberries and stuffing
The event of autumn
For family members far and near
Anxious to glutton themselves
But obligated to pause to “give thanks”
Grandfather voices words to One he barely knows
Hesitating not to speak with Him
Pressured by those around the table
Who also have not spoken to Him
Except in emergencies and wants
The stiff words are completed
All say amen and dig in
They call that “prayer”
And heaven weeps.

A young boy misses his dad
Called to defend his family and country
In a place far away
With a name he can’t pronounce
Tears running down his cheeks
Hidden in the darkness
The little one pleads out
“God, if You can see my daddy
From where you’re sitting
Please put your arms around him
Like he does when I’m scared
And make him invincible like Superman.”
From beside him shines a smile
Heaven calls that “prayer” …and responds

A small group of believers
Gather in a small house because they care
One reads from a well worn black book
As if reading a letter from an familiar hand
Another leads in a song sung in several keys
Very little talent, but very deep passion
As if sung in honor of a intimate friend
They pause, speak in turn to that One
In deep conversation that brings
Tears and laughter and peace
From within the circle shines a Smile
Heaven calls that “prayer” …and responds

A runaway truck
A minivan full of family
A country road on a rainy day
A squeal of tires
A cry from front seat and back
“God! help us!”
Heaven calls that “prayer” …and responds

An old man in tattered clothes
Beaten hat, beaten eyes
Softly enters a very old church
When no one is around to look down their nose
He lights a candle, lays coin in a cup, kneels at a rail
Whispers words that only One can hear
Words of desperation, of repentance, of sorrow
He rises to return to his cardboard house
His life changed only on the inside
Meeting eternity tomorrow alone but for the angels unseen
Heaven calls that “prayer” …and responds

A noisy office filled with people going
All directions for all reasons in all hurry
Telephones ringing, copiers copying,
Fax machines faxing, doors banging,
Conversations from every corner
Rats running the human race
At the desk in the back with the worn chair
Beside no windows and free of doors
A man puts his hand on the shoulder of another
Without bowing his head or closing his eyes
In the middle of the cacophony of the race for success
He asks for One beyond all the mess to reach out
Into the life of his friend and fails to say amen
From between the two One smiles
Heaven calls that “prayer” …and responds

Much of what the human race calls “prayers” are simply
Sounds uttered by human tongues without passion
Touching not the One prayer is intended for
Done for the benefit of humans
Out of duty, ritual, tradition and rote
The One is not touched
Power is not moved
Heaven weeps
And earthlings miss their destiny

The words of the sincere who speak out
With intensity, deep need, deep love
Touch the heart of the One who hears
Who loves and answers and
Cares and makes a difference
In lives and eternity
Not because they speak
But because they lean on Him in deep friendship
The One is touched
Power is moved
Heaven is rapturous
And earthlings experience their destiny

Will you?

* This poem was inspired by the poetry and life of Jim Harvey, a poet and a man of prayer.

"He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." Luke 16:15 (NIV)

"We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor 5:7 (NIV)

No comments: