Everything I ever did

November 9, 2010

They whispered in their hollow homes
of everything I did.
Accusing gazes pierced me from
the shadows where they hid.

They spun my broken cistern till
it fell on to the ground
And all the precious drops had spilled,
Were lost and never found.

In desperate search for love I looked
around me just to find
that men with desperate hearts mistook
this warmth, were just as blind.

I took my refuge in the day
for thus did I enjoy
the satisfaction from the way
I held their sinful ploy.

For they could call me everything
But not a hypocrite.
I lived to love, to pour, to cling
in search of happiness.

But when you found this hypocrite
and told me of your truth
And everything I ever did
as something more than proof,

I saw my burdens melt away,
my heart was filled with joy.
I could not hide the light of day;
I trembled at your voice.

For Love was searching all along
And came to claim and bind
the scattered pieces that belonged
to me, this heart of mine.

For every drop that had been spilled,
for every tear and frown,
you filled up to the top until
your love flowed into town.

A child again, I ran and skipped
and shouted all along,
“Of everything I ever did
He told me! People, come!”

There is something powerful in this idea of redemption, where at this moment of turning, every horrible thing that she did and has happened to her is now turned into something that works for the glory of God and becomes beautiful.  It is almost like an incantation of some magical spell, where time flows backwards somehow and the curse is reversed and undone, like Aslan’s resurrection.  The point of turning, appropriately enough, is at the center, but there are two ways possible structures of this ‘sanctification’: either by parallel or by symmetry. Redemption works through parallels in a way, because it’s a new start.  Redemption is also a mirror and symmetrical in a way, because it undoes the curse.

With this poem about the woman at the well, i thought the symmetrical structure would be better for many reasons.  The theme of ‘undoing’ is prevalent in this encounter because of the fact that the woman’s past isn’t merely washed away but turned around.  This also takes place in Samaria, which is a place of the lost children of kingdom of Israel: their alienation from God can be undone by going back through time. The unfolding occurs through the comparison and contrast of what was before and what came after the encounter: the ‘whisper’ of the first stanza becomes a ‘shout’ in the last stanza; what is broken and shattered is collected and bound; the spill becomes a flood; the seeker is sought.  And at the moment she realizes her own hypocrisy, the spell begins to unwind itself.  Instead of hiding in the day, avoiding the others, she declares loudly of ‘everything she ever did’ because by doing so she brings glory to Christ and brings her townsfolk who have shunned and reviled her to Christ.

In the previous poem, ‘Sea of Galilee’, i thought it’d be more appropriate to go with the parallel structure.  In nature, the more prevalent theme is the newness that Christ grants upon it, rather than the undoing of the curse.  Again, I used the structure to compare and contrast various imageries and ideas: how the fishes’ search for bread turned into a search for ‘Bread’ (which of course symbolizes Jesus); how their frivolity turned into reverence; the storms of the natural world and the vanity of men; taking comfort in the Night versus in God; avoiding death versus giving up their lives; and finally, at the moment of turning, justification that leads to sanctification, and the final glorification.

The passage from the Bible can be found in John 4 and Luke 5. Hope you enjoyed these 🙂


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