What Remains

psalmBy Dee Dee Risher

For her 40th birthday, my friend, artist Michaelanne Harriman Helms asked a group of artist friends to spend a year reflecting on Psalm 90. We all did work—some of it visual art, some of it written. She asked me to write on the themes that came up for me, sparked by the psalm. For me, that became a three-part poem. But for our broad community at Radical Discipleship, I have adapted that poem into this psalm-prayer. I suggest reading Psalm 90, then this redaction of my poem.

To gain a heart of wisdom, I must
no longer
number my days:
release the clock that haunts
my small self,
lusting after illusions of influence
which will decay, scatter, leave no mark

God, teach me the grace:
Unless I learn timelessness,
I will never glimpse
the dwelling place of generations.

How I miss them, the dead ones
who have stepped through the impassive door,
artist souls who have now escaped the errands,
grocery trips, taking out the trash,
and the slow, wrenching indignities of body diminishment,

They whisper: Look. Wait.
Here is the open place of white page
and long sunlit afternoon with nothing
but color to spill on it.
Bring anything you find,
scraps, stones, and sunbleached shells.
Come in, dwell here, you can go home
when you remember.

And the earth turns,
a fistful of carmine petals scatters from the sky
and beauty rests upon each uplifted finger,
outstretched, trembling,
waiting for what will come,
the next color, bold curve,
the clean heart,
then, finally, hollowed out so as to hold everything,
the dust,
the wind.

 

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