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(Photo credit: Steven Davis, Pali Lookout – Oahu, Hawaii, March 18, 2009)

A Room Made Holy

The drive over the Pali doesn’t distract me as I had hoped.
The State Hospital looms large, like a guarded estate
perched on the verdant Hawaiian hillside.

The burdens I carry on this self-imposed day of reckoning
are no less formidable—a marriage lying in ruins,
a heart dashed against the rocks, an aching loneliness.
Why would anyone want to listen to another lost soul?
Indeed, I have tired of my own complaints.
Surely God must be weary of me as well.

Where does a minister go to unburden himself?
Who will pray for me when my own prayers
are strewn about like so much brittle lava?
Who will utter words of my acceptance into the human race?
Who will walk beside me while sorrow slowly yields
to the promise of God making a way in the wilderness?

I knock and a man appears at the door.
He is expecting me, and invites me in.
I reveal to him my desolate spirit, my God-forsakenness.
His eyes are a reflecting pool of compassion.

The room becomes holy—my chair an altar,
the icon of Christ a window into grace,
the Buddha on the floor a reminder to let seriousness go,
the former priest my spiritual companion.
We sit among the questions and do not worry about answers.

One thing is certain–the fire nearly went out.
So I fan the flames of my spirit-fire each day.
It is all any of us can do.
It is enough.

Words (c) 2007 Mark Lloyd Richardson, reflecting on an experience in 1999 while living in Hawaii
Photo: I am grateful to Steven Davis for giving me permission to use his photograph that I discovered on Flickr. You can also find his photos at http://www.stevendavisphoto.com.