Revisiting Talitha

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets
and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
See, your house is left to you.
And I tell you, you will not see me
until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’

I had scoffed at my wife when she spoke of aches and pains following her personal training sessions. Scoffed because my distance from fitness was not as clear to me as it perhaps should have been. As it transpired, I would have to take up some of her sessions as she was unavailable for a few weeks.

Confidently I strolled into the gym,  a slight tinge of fear but confidence none-the-less. Realistically I limped out the gym. Dripping sweat and shattered illusions in equal measure. The days since the end of the football season had quickly rolled into weeks and months and regardless of my regular swim sessions, whatever fitness I had was evidently no more. #R.I.P

My older brother told me a while back that you loose fitness faster than you gain it. Interesting thought eh! The task of maintaining fitness is less difficult than the task of gaining it. “No Pain No Gain’ the old saying goes. It had crept up behind the decisions driven by indiscipline.

What’s that got to do with Jerusalem?

A strange thing happens when a response gets turned into a ritual. The assumption over the outcome really affects the heart of the act and eventually even the vision of which the act is a response. Somewhere in the process of obedience to the law, in the turning to scriptures to discover more from them, the sight and sound of the living – active and moving – God whose Word dictated their deeds was replaced by the ritual itself. There he stood amongst them, unknown to them and lamenting their self blinkered hearts.

I suppose the days since the red sea; since the manna; since the walls of Jericho; those days had turned to centuries of sacrifices; incarnations of the temple; graceless hierarchies and worst of all, rules that drowned love.

Priests had become pharisees. Condemning instead of mediating. The watchmen became the evictors.

“Go” He said. With weighted measure we
Obeyed. With sword, bow and scepter our siege
We laid. In decadence we hewed out our footholds
In the foothills of grace’s dismay. With hands,
By architecture tainted, this earthen town we laid.
In thick steel our gates we made; their outward
Arrows sharp as gazes. So high the walls
We chose erect that the early breeze, once
Composed abated. The mighty streams, whom
Once in spring we bathed, in anxious zeal
Rose we and tamed; life we chained in hymns,
And winds to whom once in song we’d yield,
Chose we assail.

What’s freely given, if not valued is easily lost.

© Denis Adide 2015

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Poetry 018: Talitha Koum

“Go” He said. With weighted measure we
Obeyed. With sword, bow and scepter our siege
We laid. In decadence we hewed out our footholds
In the foothills of grace’s dismay. With hands,
By architecture tainted, this earthen town we laid.
In thick steel our gates we made; their outward
Arrows sharp as gazes. So high the walls
We chose erect that the early breeze, once
Composed abated. The mighty streams, whom
Once in spring we bathed, in anxious zeal
Rose we and tamed; life we chained in hymns,
And winds to whom once in song we’d yield,
Chose we assail.
Was it for this, Accented Verb,
That the dream you fearlessly sowed within,
Turning even from thine own to share
In garment and kin, so vigorously denied
Yet still in song enchant, to reap deceit?
Look at your lands: barren and boldly fruitless.
In feeble might the sands, enriched by winter’s
Edifice, declare the winds immobile, the seas
Empty of power, the sun a stain, and seasons
Mortal. In haughtily chorused anarchy slayed
The voice which in their hearts you laid. Look!
These pews for joy, fill with hearts reticent,
These words for peace, impress the beasts intent
So we the coven away from peace repent;
Relenting rather into dirges’ cadence:
In songs for poise and praise we’d rather sleep.
Weep! For deep in time’s chains we choose
Our keep; a citadel from unfurnished bricks.
Her glory cursed slumbers windless still.

“I sought your hearts, knocked and waited as
You built these stone altars for yourselves.
Heaven is my throne, I dwell not
In houses made by human hands.
My spirit thus shall not contend with man,
For in wicked stain his heart is full versed.
Oh Jerusalem! City of grace and might,
For how much longer shall thy watchmen sleep?”

Is it for this that we now dream as hope,
Rooted deep in sightless depths unknown,
For breaths, as light though gone, were once our own?
In action sowing seeds away from rain,
With hearts content and minds commenting vain.
If walls we measure, then therein none’s contained
For weight of wrought. And all shall slumber lest
The heart is, once more, kissed. It is no less,
Away from the promise of deathless wist proclaimed,
And feet from breathless walks now found maim,
That from thy love to mountain peaks we fray
With limping hearts and conscience in dismay.
Whisper not for silence less assails.
Wretched hands what violence though avail.
Guide thy tongue from haughty vein oh soul!
And set thy sights on ancient heart’s abode.
We built these walls of sorrow high and steep,
And hiding in our laurels didst we sleep
In plundered halls as barren widows weep.
Our golden courts with haughty windows speak
Testing justice, resting in deceit.

“Oh Jerusalem! City of grace and might,
Thy line of measure mine alone shall be,
Thy walls a flame that I alone shall keep,
Thy hearts a seed that I alone shall reap,
As breath and life are mine alone to give.
For I gave you hope, and hope chose you to smite,
I gave you peace, but war chose you recite,
I gave you mercy, judgement chose you rite.
I saw your darkness, and chose to give you light,
But light fought you and chose to sleep in night.
Daughter of man! In sleep I would have left you,
But mine own hand of love would not forsake.
Though in the hymn of wretchedness you set,
The seeds I sow I once more will collect.
Talitha Koum!”

© Denis Adide 2009

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