With Fear and Great Joy

With fear and great joy
They ran to tell.

          If your kind and faithful friend had died
          A gruesome death and then said, “Good morning!”
          From behind as you went to put flowers
          On their fresh-tilled grave, what would you do?

Where do you run
With fear and great joy?

          How is a new world announced? “Do not fear”
          Whispered with power, growing, rippling out
          To hill and hollow, city, field, and slum
          With the holy whiplash of redemption.

With fear and great joy
You catch your breath.

          Frozen with longing for something not yet,
          Glass-eyed, like a road-killed coyote in
          The unfinished howl of rigor mortis.
          Truth is the hardest story to swallow.

What do you see
Through fear and great joy?

          Each friendship is resurrection practice,
          Reaching for love and faith and hope and rest
          Knowing full-well that time and space and sin
          And death challenge every effort, but still

With fear and great joy
You hold them tight.

          Darkness first fell in the garden light made.
          Hope wept in a garden after midnight,
          And life proved new in a garden at dawn.
          Can oaks of righteousness rise from dry bones

With fear and great joy,
Running to tell?

A Sure Thing

How does one gain the confidence
Of a finch that flies headlong
Into an arborvitae?

A mass of tangled greens that might,
(Or not) hold a nest, eggs, mate, home,
Or at least defray the rain a moment.

Is it instinct that creates faith?
Or memory of the warm twirl of grass
And feathers that gives courage to return?

Whatever credence I enjoy
Passes through me, a current
From fixed point to fixed point.

The heart is no dynamo,
And unworthy of trust.
Belief is a signpost
Pointing only to itself,
A shadow of a shadow
From which no flutter bursts forth.

Image: Snow at Sunset Rock, Lookout Mountain, Tenn., December 2017.