Thursday, November 8, 2012

Struggle (and Tired of Speaking Sweetly)

struggle jacob angel tired speaking sweetly self portrait

I am struggling this morning, which is really something like code for 'burning down in flames.' Every time I feel this way I think, "Be ignited or be gone."

It's not a war. It could never be. A war implies an end. A victor. One side firebombing the other into oblivion. There can be no firebombing, no obliteration, when all the fighting is in myself. I will not go down, I will not turn to ash, but I cannot destroy the flames. I beat them back and they just keep on rising, spreading, jumping the ring of bare earth I'm trying to scratch out.

I'm more comfortable with the idea of things as a struggle. I think of Jacob wrestling with the angel. I can feel it, fingers digging into the side of the stranger, pressed up against one another, bones breaking, rocks bruising into skin as we roll on the ground and get more and more covered with dirt.Holding on. Not letting go. Demanding, "Bless me. Bless me and change my name."

Maybe it's really love that's holding us down.

I came across this poem a few days ago, and although it is very old it seems like the most current, true thing I have read in a long time. If you're burning today, read this slowly. Don't let go.

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us.
Break up all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
could give the Beloved his choice, some nights
He would just drag you around the room
by your hair,
ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
that bring you joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
and wants to rip to shreds
all your erroneous notions of truth

that make you fight within yourself, dear one,
and with others.

Causing the world to weep
on too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
and practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
to do us a great favor:

hold us upside down
and shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a "playful drunken mood"
most everyone I know
quickly packs their bags and hightails it
out of town.

"Tired of Speaking Sweetly"
From The Gift by Hafiz
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky


  1. Wow, I love that line, "Break up all our teacup talk of God."

  2. I am struggling right there with you my friend. I'll be praying for you!

  3. Thank you for your comments. I get them at work, and they were so encouraging.