This poem was written when I was asked to appear as one of the guest artists for a performance at a Lenten event for The First Christian Church in Omaha.

The poem is inspired, as requested, by the following Bible paragraphs: and

There’s a sparse and spartan void
and in it echoes a real steal
where, hands who shun the touch
of feelings that have no path to profit
offer sacks of stones for you to
turn into nourishment.

Gnarled hands whose encouragements
serve their purposes;
“take our offer, get one meal,
get one free,
it’s a devil of a deal.
Buy now….
PAY later
it’s all hand built
and cheaper than ever!”

Then they say “come with us
to the top of the House
act like us,
think like us
own the moment,
be a demon of the soundbites
and from up here you will
see how you are better than
the little people,
who you can rule
and have everything you deserve…
…and everything you don’t,
it will be so cooooool”.

But, through the clouds you see
the temples to financial avarice shimmer
and shudder with immoral greed
that must feed and feed but fail to feel.
Where weaker eats meeker
and all the chariots are too large
and that making breads from rocks
is neither sensible or sane
and the walls of the palaces are
buckling at the strain
and nobody knows what to do
because though they tempt
they have joined us in the wilderness
and it’s an uncomfortable terrain

But you see this kingdom that you’re offered
is a sham and a shame
and the wander in the desert
has a purpose; to learn to
live simply again.

So you’ll tough it out in the present desert,
leave the sand to dust your feet
and let the branches sing Spring
from solid trees which sprang from seeds
who rooted in deeper, slower ground
which has no need for angels to catch them,
to demonstrate their faith
that they will, undeserved,
be saved from dashing on the rocks.

5 comments on “Wilderness

  • Ian… I so enjoyed reading your poem again, after hearing your powerful reading of it. We share similar thoughts about the “wilderness” of today, I think! It went well with the thoughts I had as I worked on the painting. Thanks for sharing with us…

  • Thanks Nancy – it was fun wasn’t it? I think my mother would have struggled to paint to the requested theme – not at all easy to do.

    It was good to see you!

  • One more comment…. My daughter is a pastor at University Place Christian Church in Champaign IL …. she asked about our service and I sent her a bad photo of my painting and a link to your blog…. She is doing a blog especially for Lent, and her post for today includes the picture and a link to your blog…
    She really loves the poems.

  • Oops, sorry…. I( meant to link her blogsite so you could take a look if you like: it is:

  • That’s excellent. I’m glad she liked the poems. I try to put a lot of thought and depth into what I write and it’s good to hear people getting something from them.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet but the service was videoed and the recording is available on the internet here:

    The performance of the poems is about 7 minutes into the recording (and you are at the start of it too!)

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