He wishes for better— As if in the wishing He were doing a worthy deed, Long overdue among the countless Neglects in this haggard world.
He sets it aright in the vista of his mind, And manages, when he can, To feel some satisfaction in it— For it is his due, he thinks, For having burst the bonds of convention In daring to think, for a change, How things should be.
And he is certain of it— And of himself— And of his deftness of conviction. And he wonders from time to time why they don’t Ask him to do more such work— Why he isn’t summoned To do this more often— Visionary that he is.
And tomorrow— Or perhaps the day after— He will wish about something else. And so begins a new venture, The better for which This world will surely be, He is certain, When he has at last Wished it hard enough That he can mine from it That scant morsel of piety That he is fortunate sometimes To feel after such great works.
And should someone else Wish the wish alongside him, Lauding the greatness of his vision, He is more sure to sense The reassuring signal That he has got it right Yet once again, And that his worth To this world is certain.
And so it goes— And so go his years, Until at long last, He discovers, Or not, That he has done little But to wish things different— That his life’s great work has consisted in The slightest of all possible deeds— In mental child’s play— And that he has not taken, after all, What he thought should be His rightful place Alongside the champions of the ages Who, themselves, had forged those Most precious of moments of history By daring not merely to wish, But to make it so.
He may, in fact, never see the difference Between him and them. He may never realize that To a million wishers, There may be but one Who dares to do— And that he has not been that one.
They tell me not to try— That I’m wasting my time. But someone tried with me, And I am the better for it.
They tell me it’s hopeless, But I’ve experienced successes myself.
They tell me the people won’t listen, But I listened.
And after a while of hearing such things, He who says them begins to seem to me The stupidest of all— He who dares to declare for others A fruitless future When God himself— The greatest wisher ever for the good of man— Has still left them alive To live in this world of possibility Yet another day.
The naysayer thinks himself enlightened, Yet cannot see the darkness in his outlook.
But I will speak to him of it. I’ll push back for his good. I don’t believe the others can’t change— Nor that he himself can’t change This darkened outlook.
Perhaps he’s mad because I won’t give up like he has. Or perhaps he’s simply forgotten And needs a friendly nudge to remember.
If he sees that they are wrong Not to listen about other things, Perhaps he’ll see that he’s Been so stubbornly wrong himself Not to listen about this.
So don’t tell me that people can’t change— That grandest excuse for mankind In all of history.
Has there ever been a bigger lie?
I know it is a lie because I have changed.
There’s too little hope in this world. But I still have some. And I still remember where I got it.
He lurks, enjoying what he reads But too afraid to say so.
He would be criticized if his friends knew. He would have to face the heat for his beliefs.
He would have to take the stand that the author takes, And defend it himself Against the foolish criticism of others— Or not.
Indeed, he tried it before once But ended up retreating from the backlash. And that’s when he learned to lurk— To fly under the radar— To avoid detection And conflict.
Why, then, does he admire the author Who dares things he will not, And yet not figure out his own shame?
Why does he see himself as being on the right side of things When he’s afraid to declare a side?
He is not the champion he’d like to think he is. He is, rather, a fugitive in the very society whose approval he seeks— Or, perhaps more accurately, whose disapproval he avoids.
He will not write. He will not take a stand. He will not enter the fray. Yet he considers himself brave by association— By an association he dare not acknowledge.
With the one writer, Nine others engage, one way or another. But the lurker is among the ninety who will not— The ninety who lack either the courage or the conviction To get in the game.
And so the lurker enjoys the security of the silent masses Who have not learned to hash a thing out Or to invest themselves in principle Or to help a friend who is wrong— Who dare not speak For fear of rejection— Or for some other priority That keeps them from The particulars of This real world.
The messy particulars of this world are quite tiresome to the mind. Many, therefore, opt for a strategy of ignoring the messes, so as to enjoy themselves better while they are here. But disengaging the mind like this is also the cause of many such messes, as mindlessness is quite high on the list of why things go wrong—and in practically every area of life.
Ironically, much seems to come down to whether a person is willing to deal with the reality of messes or not. The ones who’ll roll up their sleeves to deal with things also happen to be the ones who are somewhat less apt to create such messes themselves. But the ones who opt to ignore as much of the mess as they can are the ones who end up causing many of the messes that plague us.
Perhaps ultimately, it is a question of why we’re here and what this world is all about. Those who think they’re here primarily to enjoy the experience will have quite a different view from those who think we are here to learn and to better ourselves–or to help others–or to seek God–and so forth. And when in a bind, it’s that latter group–and not the enjoyment seekers–that seem more likely to be able to help.
The enjoyment seeker often gets mad he’s in a bind that he can’t manage to ignore—and when he needs help, he often needs the help of someone unlike himself; he needs the help of someone who is accustomed to working with the particulars of reality, as opposed to ignoring them.
So here’s a thing: It is not a mistake that you have been put here in this world where there is suffering and pain and hardship, and where there are lessons to be learned. It’s all aimed at giving you the chance to decide what sort of person you’re going to be—and then to learn how to be it. In fact, God put you here on purpose—and if you’re humble enough to accept the fact that the potter has done with the clay what he wanted, then perhaps you can come out of this kiln really being something of value.
But if you can’t handle not being the potter, but the clay instead, then you’re going to hate him for the suffering—for the learning—for this trek that you don’t want to be on. And you’re likely to feel entitled to something better. And ironically, something better is exactly what you’d have been being prepared for had you embraced the difficulties here.
It shines even now— Though some will not see it— That holy City, That dwelling place of God— Its radiance like the rarest jewel.
It is that Mount Zion of which The former was but a shadow— That new Jerusalem of which The former was but a promise.
It is the city of the living God, The place of the innumerable angels in festal gathering, And of the spirits of the righteous mortals, now completed— Of those having been made like the angels With their heavenly bodies. They bring their glory into it— That heavenly kingdom, not of this world— Uninheritable by those still in the body— Still in flesh and blood.
It is that second world of two— The one made not for the sake of the many But for the sake of the few. It is the very goal of their earthly faith— Their hope— Their expectation— Their journey. It is their complete and unending reward.
It is the eternal world for which even The Sun and the Moon in all their brilliance Were early symbols— Despite their daily work— Melchizedek, a living forerunner. In deference, they darkened themselves at the approach Of the Ancient of Days.
God is that City’s light. Jesus its lamp. And the new kings of the earth— Unlike the old– Have brought their glory into it— Those sons of Adam who had shined like stars Against the blackness— Against that raging, outer darkness— Their exploits still lighting the way— The glory of their faithful sojourn Through a country not their own Still gleaming from the ancient books.
This is the Light that the Darkness could never overcome in the whole of its age. It is the Light that judged the Waters— Who took the good ones home and left the rest to rage. It is the Light who, when the time for Darkness was over, Put that Sea away forever.
And to this day, That Light still shines on this Earth. Some run into it, And some from it. And some, afraid to do either, Just stand there, Secretly wishing For some other choice To come along.
But this is what they have been given. And so with us all.
We sang “Jesus Will Fix It”, As if fixing broken things Is indeed the right thing to do.
But looking back, I can see that we didn’t really care All that much to have everything fixed; No, what we wanted more than that Was simply to have a way out.
We wanted to be snatched from this world Into the other one— Delivered from its evils And perils And aggravations Into boundless joy and glory— And to let Him do with the rest of this world Whatever He would do with it.
We even thought it unspiritual And worldly– A needless distraction– To get our hands dirty with The world around us. But I can’t help but think now That we were freeloaders, Not lifting a finger to Protect the body politic That afforded us so much freedom.
We thought it work for civilians, And not for us soldiers of Christ.
Now, don’t get me wrong, For we helped the poor And the children, But we did not take a stand To fight the corruption– And often, not even the corruption In our own number.
I suppose we thought Jesus would fix that, too– Or rather, simply deliver us from it.
What seemed so great a religion, We used to shield us from Plain, everyday responsibility.