Fortune and Calamity | Sojourners

Fortune and Calamity

Fortune and calamity,
rushing over us and overpowering,
seem at first
like sudden heat or frost
scarcely distinguishable to the touch.

Like meteors
hurled from cosmic depths,
lighting and warning,
they plummet down their paths
Those they strike stand dumbfounded
staring at the rubble
of their everyday, inglorious existence.

Grand and sublime,
destroying, taming,
fortune and misfortune alike,
invited or uninvited,
make ceremonious entry
into shattered lives,
dressing—and blessing—
the afflicted
with solemn mien, with sacred garb.

Fortune has its terror,
Calamity its sweetness.
they seem to come
from some eternal Source,
fortune and calamity alike,
terrible and mighty, both.

Humankind from far and near
come running and looking
and gape
half-envious, half terrified
into the face of Horror,
where unearthly powers,
blessing and destroying,
pronounce judgment
on earth's own entangled drama.

What is fortune? What calamity?
Time alone decides.
When the unfathomable thrill
of sudden Event
turns into the fatigue of tormenting Forever,
When the day's late hour, dragging on and on
finally reveals what is meant by misery,
This is when most turn away,
bored and disappointed
by calamity gone stale.

This is loyalty's hour,
the hour when mother, lover,
friend, brother,
cover over
till it is transfigured
by a gentle, cosmic

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