Transforming Poems

No Strange Land

By Eddie Askew

Lord, it’s so easy to give in
To let the clouds gather
dark and threatening,
whipped up by the winds of my own fear.
Mists of my own making
blotting out the light and warmth of your presence
So easy, in mouth-dry anxiety,
to feel alone.
Abandoned. Unprotected.

To roll in nettle beds of self-pity,
the pain spreading as vision contracts,
until my horizon is described
by the jangled nerve endings of my despair.

Estranged. Alien.
each accustomed act, new,
unknown, frightening.

And yet, Lord, you are near.
I hold onto your promise
“For I am with you, always.”
Always. Unconditional.
Words echoing 
through the deep caverns of my doubt,
sometimes distant, sometimes near.
I reach out
feeling in the darkness for reassurance.

And we meet. Touch.
Your hand held out too. First.
I hold on, warming my cold, fearful fingers
in the glow of your presence.
I hear your voice,
speaking my language.
Words I understand.
And I realize
there are not strange lands to you.
Your presence everywhere,
Your presence, home.
Thank you.

A new way of Struggling

By Susan W. N. Ruach

To struggle used to be
To grab with both hands
          and shake
          and twist
          and turn
                               and push
and shove and not give in
But wrest an answer from it all
As Jacob did a blessing

But there is another way
To struggle with an issue, a question
Simply to jump
          into the abyss
          and find ourselves
          being led
slowly and gently
but surely
to the answers God has for us
to watch the answers unfold
before our eyes and still
to be a part of the unfolding.

But, oh! the trust
necessary for this new way!
Not to be always reaching out
for the old hand-holds.

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul

“To get to an unknown land by unknown roads, a traveler cannot allow [herself] to be guided by [her] old experience. [She] has to doubt [herself] and seek the guidance of others. There is no way [she] can reach the new territory and know it truly unless [she] abandons familiar roads.”

The Avowal

By Denise Levertou

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.


By Sherill Hostetter

Thanksgiving for what we have
Relinquishing what is not mine to control
Untethering to catastrophic thinking
Surrender to mystery of God
Turning to God for light and peace

Define Myself (Adapted)

By Tabitha Sullivan

I do not define myself by how many roadblocks have appeared in my path. 
I define myself by the courage I have found to forge new roads.

I do not define myself by how many disappointments I have faced.
I define myself by the forgiveness and faith I have found to begin again.

I do not define myself by how long a relationship lasted.
I define myself by how I have loved and have been willing to love again

I do not define myself by how many times I have been knocked down.
I define myself by how many times I have struggled to my feet.

I do not define myself by how often I have appeared a fool.
I define myself by the number of risks I have taken.

I do not define myself by the number of mistakes I have made.
I define myself by the knowledge I have learned from trying a new way.

I am not my pain…

I am not my past…

I am that which has emerged from the fire..!