I look around the path and begin
to see the world as it ought to be.
I had come to taste the honeysuckles and the rich flavor of earth on the air,
I had come to see the blossoming thickets and berry-laden bushes.
I had come to taste and see and I was left with grief.
This path is dead:
brambles, thorns, and weeds have coalesced in this place of despair,
as though there was no more use in living as distinct.
So then I ponder.
Perhaps a calamity has befallen this place,
or maybe it is simply regrowing,
never mind that a twig is easily snapped off to reveal brown inside.
‘Death has taken hold of this place,’ I must finally admit,
even though I am hesitant to dismiss a beautiful path as lost.
Restoration cannot come, this is an incurable devastation.
So then I observe.
On down the path,
beyond the bend,
slivers of light appear not too far away,
except for the infinite and uncrossable distance between it and where I stand,
resistance holding me back from any movement to it.
Visceral thoughts plead with me to push to the light’s warmth,
especially as the dew turns to frost and I am left numb.
So then I breathe.
river stench clogging my senses,
exhaling slowly to prolong taking another repugnant breath.
Absolute disgust appears on my face as I realize I have made a bed in filth.
‘Take me away from this treacherous place’ I shout aloud,
help’s cry falling on my ears alone because I’m living in the season of loneliness.
Empty echoes in a forgotten forest.
I had come so that I could see the world as it ought to be:
united as one,
living in harmony,
but instead I was driven away to a dead forest path,
left alone by people from a place that was supposed to never reject.
So I lay there in the cold brambles and filthy thorns,
forgotten hope had arisen in me at the sight of that light.
Though I could not reach it I could
and breathe its hope.
I knew the light was the destination I had sought from the beginning though nothing I did was ever going to get me there.
I had been seeking a flourishing kingdom of stone cathedrals,
everything made with a master’s hand,
but had found a conglomerate of poorly-thatched cottages.
Behind them stood a splendrous castle and it was then that I knew what had happened to this place.
Once before I had thought this world was forgotten by its king.
Now I see that instead its king has been forgotten.
Those who are supposed to remember and serve him now serve only themselves.
They look at the castle and see that it is open but do not go.
Two crossed pieces of wood create a bridge by which they can enter,
but still they do not go.
This I pondered as I lay in squalor.
I was broken and shattered,
numb to every feeling but numbness.
I could see the light like those people could see the castle,
but we were different.
They saw and chose not to go.
I saw and could not move forward.
At dawn I woke with a start to see a man in front of me;
dressed in minimal clothing,
lashes on his body,
marks on his side,
his bare feet.
A Jester’s cap flickered on his head before a wretched crown then finally nothing.
I suddenly remembered my king.
Pulled to my feet,
led by a gentle hand,
I moved forward of none of my own volition.
Towards the light we went.
Through the again blossoming forest we went.
The earth too remembered its Creator and sang a song of a new season
I soon saw thatched roofs and dread grew.
I tried to pull away but my feet slipped on the new morning’s dew and I fell.
Kneeling beside me with sorrowful and compassionate eyes,
a question on the face of the Jester-king.
‘I do not belong in that village,’ I say,
‘They rejected me,
pushed me away.
I pointed to the castle behind them,
they ignored me.
They claim the bridge is unsatisfactory.
Some say it is too rough and they stumble when they try.
Some say it is too weak and it is a folly to go.
I asked questions,
they drove me away.
I pointed at their roofs and said they needed repair,
they spat on me and threw me outside.
They cannot bear to look their neighbor in the eye,
hatred so deeply rooted from a single disagreement a hundred years ago.
I do not belong in that village.’
He nodded and spoke, Jester cap and thorny crown flickering again.
‘You do belong in that village,’ he said,
‘For that village is of my kingdom.
While you may not belong in one cottage alone,
you are one of my citizens,
one of my children.
Now I ask you to be a fool for me,
be a jester in the village.
They claim wisdom that is beneath what could be called my foolishness.
Wear the jester’s cap and never let them forget their king.
When weariness overtakes you,
look at the bridge.
Your rest is found at the place where I dwell,
where my cross sits and spans the still waters.’
When I looked around I noticed that I was not the only one,
I was not alone,
there were others like me.
They were trying their best to live among others,
to ignore their past hurts,
Though the calling is hard the sight of others gives me courage,
so as the man who had found me rose to stand I spoke without thought or hesitation.
‘Who are you?’ though I already knew.
‘Some say a Jester,’ was his answer,
‘some say a teacher.
Many admit a man,
others confess God.
Creator and king fall from this village’s lips on the good days.’
So I asked,
‘Who is wrong?’
‘And which do you prefer?
What should we call you?
Who shall we say is the one who sent us to the village?’
Stepping away from me he soon vanished with a whisper.
On the air hung those last two words that changed the world.
A brief explanation:
This is a poem that is rich in layers of imagery. The goal of this is to make you think, to force you to reflect. My hope is that as we begin self introspection, as we begin to recognize our own faults, we will begin to change. It is in this rebellion against our rebel nature that we find ourselves transforming and, prayerfully, becoming more like Christ.