Prayer is an Egg

On Resurrection Day God will say, “What did you do with
the strength and energy your food gave you on earth? How did you use your eyes? What did you make with your five senses while they were dimming and playing out? I gave you hands and feet as tools for preparing the ground for planting. Did you, in the health I gave, do the plowing?”

You will not be able to stand when you hear those questions. You will bend double, and finally acknowledge the glory.

God will say, “Lift your head and answer the questions.”

Your head will rise a little, then slump again.

“Look at me! Tell what you’ve done.” You try, but you fall back flat as a snake. “I want every detail. Say!”

Eventually you will be able to get to a sitting position.

“Be plain and clear. I have given you such gifts. What did you do with them?”

You turn to the right looking to the prophets for help, as though to say, I am stuck in the mud of my life. Help me out of this! They will answer, those kings, “The time for helping is past.
The plow stands there in the field. You should have used it.”

Then you turn to the left, where your family is, and they will say, “Don’t look at us? This conversation is between you and your creator.”

Then you pray the prayer that is the essence of every ritual: God, I have no hope. I am torn to shreds. You are my first and
last and only refuge.

Don’t do daily prayers like a bird pecking, moving its head
up and down. Prayer is an egg. Hatch out the total helplessness inside.

-Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks. 2001.

I come back to this poem over and over again–moreso lately, as my time with Tierra Nueva is a blessed regular breaking of my heart. Maybe an answer to prayers offered years ago, asking to be made useful in God’s Kingdom, asking that the things that break God’s heart will also break mine.

I emailed recently with a local services provider. They wanted to participate in our annual Christmas gift drive for the families of incarcerated individuals. (A program that I would be cynical and snooty about, but ask me how I feel now!) They had reached out to the local Toys for Tots chapter, but were rebuffed because the jailed population “don’t have rights, do not qualify, and should have thought about the consequences when they broke the law.” AKA their children do NOT deserve presents on Christmas morning.

Newsflash to the Toys for Tots Skagit coordinator: None of us deserve presents. The actual recipients of your drive don’t deserve it, and the people who can afford presents for their families deserve it. It’s an act of grace and compassion and undeserved joy, in spite of our self-destructive and decrepit selves. Left to our own devices, we have no hope. Looking at our world, we are torn to shreds. We deserve all the pain and suffering we inflict on each other and ourselves. Jesus is our first, last, and only refuge. Rejoice, rejoice.



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