Renewing the Temple

At altitude on scaffolding to uncover art
is a good dream and I'm still awake
finding I belong up high getting dirty in the rafters
with the monks chanting in the chancel,
and the dry wall-ers clearing their sinuses somewhere
below. Sounds come back from inside
this great church wall when I whack a steel girder
with the end of the scrub brush like I had ached
God's own rib and He resounded, "I'm here...
I'm everlasting, just like in the ancient places."

I do taste oldness up here, splintered Doug fir,
dried and sooted, history's own darkness
collected in layers and lost, until
this awakening with my sponge soaking away
the rage of fire in the attic forty years ago.
Misty sprays of solvent extract dirt
the way good love pulls out fear
and firm dabbing encourages mute colors to speak
what they have had to say for years.

How is it that all it has taken is touch,
the reaching back of my hand to restore
what the work of many artists' hands have left for me?
It is more that the Spirit who blends together
all forms that seem naturally not to belong
would not be forgotten. Here is my part:
bring out the zagging shapes that look grey
back to yellow, a hardier self, help arthritic
purples flex their true crimson, show oranges
crippled how to be ready to walk away for a life
of their own.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine May-June 1996
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