Advent X

by Conrad Martin

Lord of Heaven,
I thought I was afraid You’d come
cold and commanding,
but now I know I fear yet more You’ll come
my heart’s truest friend.

You would know me utterly—
with the inner omniscience
of infinitely human eyes—
with warmth, and me all helpless.

I treasure the thought of resisting
the proud demands of power.
It is a high glory to stand tall beneath vast threats.
So if You came in force I could declare
independence with impeccable honor.
If You were sublimely imperious,
then I could be poignantly heroic,
a tragic martyr to the cause of freedom
(because Freedom is Beautiful and I WILL DIE FOR IT).

But if you come as friend—
if you come loving,

Then I fear your freedom would bind me to you.

Then my eyes might betray
things I have no courage to know—
depths called forth, the root of my fear
pulled up, the dreaded center of my joy
exposed in an irreversible excruciation,
my honor struggling against you
pathetically, preciously.

So please—if you come as friend,
may it be with warning. Please—
if you must come loving—
come slowly,
come softly.

Lord of Heaven,
have mercy.

O Christ,
have mercy.

Artwork by Grace Weaver

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