November is the time when our bible readings are all about the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory. It is a time of uncertainty and waiting. The themes are both dire and hopeful. They never lose their currency though, because isn’t life itself both terrifying and wonderful?
I rediscovered in my files a poem appropriate to the occasion. It was written by Linda Brainerd, a steadfast and beloved member of the Lopez Branch who succumbed to ALS several years ago. She was a gifted writer who generously shared her talent and her passion for God with us.
I am burning trash this morning
without a permit.
The fire lights my worship, do I need to ask the law?
Not on my watch, I say.
Standing sentinel I see the flames arise,
dance eagerly into the blue November morning.
You’ve been likened to a refiner’s fire.
If such a metaphor is pleasing,
let me be consumed in Your core.
I know even if the pain seems more than I can bear,
I shall not die but be transformed.
I watch ashes fly into the blue–bright sky.
Not much danger from escaping remnants
on such a dew-damp morning.
Still, I keep an eye on it.
I wonder if, like the ashes, I’ve already been
reconstituted, sent away from Your hot core.
I am afraid! I want to hide forever in the heat of you.
This world is cold. The fire’s low at last;
I hang up the hose. Perhaps, now, I will get to work
hoping You are still within me,
refining my fear and the misdirection we call sin,
that I may withstand the terrible power
of Your love.
The Rev. Beth Purdum Eden is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. She has served in more than 6 parishes in the Western United States for 30 years.