Wednesday, April 30, 2014


(On finally figuring out that this journey is not really about cancer - it´s about my heart.)

I lost count a while back
of the number of thorns -
the thorns that have pierced me
during this journey.
There are crimson drops of blood
Beaded & glistening at each pinhole -
A tribute to the thorns´ severe mercy.*

Each piercing broke into my life,
into my safe interior.
It seems a raw & violent intrusion
On my inner life.

These piercings touch me in deep places
where tears & blood drops flow.
Places I didn´t know about -
places dark & hidden within me.

The piercings direct little shafts of light
from the outside to the depths.
Revealing, exposing, unmasking
a deep down ugliness.

Sins, habits, responses
Attitudes, traits & weaknesses -
They are caught in the light,
forced into plain view, slinking or screaming.

I feel appalled, embarrassed, humiliated
Confused & terrified of my own self, I bolt
I run & run & run until I collapse, heaving with sobs.
I crawl into a shadowed place, afraid.

In a desperate & exhausted heap
I cry hot tears until there are none left.
Their salty heat burns with this truth:
There is no place to run from yourself.

 I see with a start that the thorns are not in themselves my trial -
Their piercings deflect to the Spirit´s intended target -
My heart, ¨the wellspring of life¨
Of course!  He is always about deeper things.
The visible trial is always about the inner life.

Now I face this poignant decision:
to ¨let¨ the piercings have their ¨perfect result¨
or to resist this sacred proposition.
To focus on the thorns -
or surrender myself to the Rose of Sharon.

I realize with shame
that what is seen can be wasted 
when instead of deep change we allow it
to produce pity in others for us,
or bitterness in ourselves,
or walls with those we love,
or simply, defeat.

The piercings in the valley
are utterly painful
But as I surrender myself in my ugliness
to the One who knows 
of tears drops & blood drops,
of hearts & piercings
I find a fellow Sufferer -
and a Saviour.

He shepherds & counsels me
through pain, darkness & terrifying ugliness
He ushers in little miracles 
of change, of surrender, of release.
He gives strength & spiritual courage
to enter forbidden closets.

Restoration Will Come.
But right now it is the time of the valley of piercings.
It is a time for mourning & confession,
It is a time for making right & being honest,
It is a time for tear drops & blood drops.

Yet here,  even here among the thorns, there is a Rose.
He holds me, breathes for me, cries with me
He leads me to green pastures,
He brings Presence into the valley.

Knowing there will be velvety roses of character
makes the sacred piercing of thorns a bit easier.
Understanding there will be perfume from the crushing
makes cooperating with the Spirit´s plan sweeter.
Hearing His voice whisper that there will be beauty
when the tears & blood drops are dried, is a comfort.

Believing in the Rose of Sharon among thorns
means everything to me.
He knows of piercings,
and of severe mercies.
He knows this valley;
 He knows how the story ends.

I found this Rose,
my Rose,
in the Valley of Piercings...
I found Him in the only place you find a rose -
among the severe mercy of thorns.

*¨severe mercy¨ is originally coined in A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.  His magnificent autobiography tells of he and his wife´s relationship, their spiritual quest and her death.  Our struggles to understand why there is pain & loss in this world if God is all-powerful and all-loving, are beautifully crafted in this classic which includes letters with their friend C.S. Lewis. 

Photos (in order of appearance) by: 

sudesh,, Linda Knight, Len Mathews, pea sap, James Bowe

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, painful and deep. You are wise beyond your young years. "He brings Presence into the valley." Praying that you will continue to experience His nearness, for He is truly near.