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“Among the Thorns” — a Poem by Keith Horrigan

By Keith Horrigan

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Within the spirit of love
we move and we breath,
but in these worldly pursuits
it’s hard to perceive.
The good and the bad
are all interweaved,
and our values misplaced
are the webs that we weave.

So with hardening of heart,
inflaming our pride,
the allure of our defects,
arise and collide,
and as these subtle temptations
attack and divide,
all these passions of want
fail to subside.

But when the good is at hand
and our pain is relieved,
in the gift of this good
we are often deceived.
Because we walk in the flesh
and are often naive,
to the grace of this good
we constantly cleave.

But when acknowledging wrong
is often denied,
our arrogant scheming
opposes our guide,
and as long as these yearnings
our Spirit derides,
these battles within
will forever abide.

So when the good of this world
has taken its leave,
in this one simple truth
we will choose to believe;
When the good is not found
and cannot be retrieved
In the arms of the bad
we will seek our reprieve.

But if submission to love
is often applied,
and this tyranny of want
is often decried,
although its hunger’s enraged
when often deprived,
in the discipline of love
the ego’s defied.

For far greater than good
is the bad we receive,
in the suffering we’ve known
and the pain that we grieve.
For outweighing the good
all these troubles achieve,
a far greater glory
than mind can conceive.

And if in obedience to love
the ego resides
and the fruits of its promise
we take as our bride,
the roots of our craving
will all be untied,
and the gift of love’s grace
will God’s mercy provide.

FIN

 

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/frted/5510369808

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Posted by on March 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Autobiography of a Failed Prophet, a Poem by Keith Horrigan

Poem by Keith Horrigan

When days were bright
and not so grey,
I put my
childish toys away,
and I wandered
from this Eden
unrepentant.

But I was young
and still naive,
when I felt the child
within me leave,
when the venom
of this serpent
struck my heal.

So with my inheritance
in hand,
I made my way
to a foreign land,
and I lived my life
in foolishness
and folly.

When I found myself
broke and alone,
in servitude
for seeds I’ve sown,
I was vanquished
and contrite
at my returning.

To the slaughter
of the fatted calf,
the joyful sound
of my fathers laugh,
and the envy
of the eldest
of the manor.

And I begged my father
to forgive,
said I once was dead
but now I live,
but the eldest
of his seed
would never enter.

So I labored through
my given chores,
strewn out across
these threshing floors,
and the services
I rendered
filled my plater.

And if I built my house
upon this rock,
and I gave it
everything I got,
I am certain
this foundation
would support me.

But I’m faithful as
the foolish man,
who built his house
upon the sand,
and the waters rose
and mighty
was its ruin.

Because truth be told
to my dismay,
in all the bounty
of these days
I found
no satisfaction
in these labors.

So when a brood of vipers
came and knelt,
before a vest of hair
and leather belt,
for the shaking
of this reed
out in the wind.

In fulfillment of
his sacred vow,
he suffered it
to be so now,
and submerged me
in the mighty
river Jordan.

And when from this seed
the chaff was sifted,
up from the water
I was lifted,
and I felt
the whole creation
moving through me.

And a dove appeared
above my head,
when I was salvaged
from the dead,
and the power
of the spirit
breathed within me.

And he promised me
the tree of life,
but left me here
within this strife,
and expected me
to conquer
all these failings.

So for forty nights
and forty days,
I was tempted by
the devils ways,
and the testing
of my faith
produced endurance.

But when tempting me
with silk and lace,
the first time
that I saw her face,
all the value
of this treasure
overwhelmed me.

And the devil wagered
I’d give in,
when he placed
these boils on my skin,
and much greater
than the first
was my undoing.

So to the queen
of Babylon I prayed,
and down her streets
I paved my ways,
to the central
city square
where I found her.

And when I looked into
her deep dark eyes,
I could hear the sound
of angels cry,
and the presence
of the spirit
taken from me.

In a scarlet red
and purple dress,
with precious pearls
upon her breasts,
laid out
in all the filth
of her adulteries.

Her voice like music
to my ears,
came with pain
but soothed my fears,
and the loneliness
and heartache
all receded.

And the cup she held
within her hand,
poured abominations
on the land,
and the kings
of all the earth
bowed down before her.

And more valuable
than desert pearls,
was the softness
of her loose knit curls,
perfected
in the brightness
of the sun light.

And the texture
of her ruby lips,
and the rhythm
of her raven hips,
were in sync
with every movement
of my heartstrings.

And within my heart
I did desire,
to be captured there
within her fire,
and reduced
within my pride
to pain and torment.

So I pulled the fruit off
from her vine,
and intoxicated
I resigned,
to dine on things
unholy
and forbidden.

But her demons
masquerade as light,
reminding all
within her sight,
that the earthly
has no way of
breaking through her.

And I could hide in caves
and among the rocks,
and in fortresses
of hardened block,
and beg
the whole creation
down upon me.

But neither king nor prince
nor slave nor free,
could escape these
demons plaguing me,
and no power
born of woman
could resist her.

And with this leprosy
upon my soul,
I searched for ways
to make me whole,
but the emptiness
within me
never proved it.

And I’ve tried to
recompense this hour,
where moth does eat
and worms devour,
but I cower
and I fade
into her darkness.

And I wondered if
she’s doing well,
if she learned to love
this living hell,
and the fire
and the brimstone
that consumes her.

And seven demons
took control,
and made their way
into my soul,
and the people
of the village
called me legion.

In my Fathers house
are many rooms,
but I’m waiting chained
among her tombs,
for the casting
of these demons
into swine.

And the martyr
that I stood beneath,
with weeping eyes
and gnashing teeth,
confessed to me
he never
really knew me.

Now I walk these
streets alone at night,
and search for ways
to make this right,
but the darkness
and the twilight
all mislead me.

And I wonder if
I’m past reprieve,
if these unclean spirits
ever leave,
if the master
of the house
is even listening.

And I’d like to say
it’s all worked out,
that the price he paid
has soothed this doubt,
but the passion
of this sorrow’s
always wanting.

And now I long to touch
my saviors hand,
as I’m thirsting through
this arid land,
but the ways
of my return
defy expression.

So from Nineveh
I turn my back,
to walk away
with staff and sack,
to a place
where even angels
fear to tread.

I wander back
to her front door,
fall on my face
and beg for more,
and surrender
to the fires
that surround her.

For Delilah
with her beauty rare,
did Samson lose
his locks of hair,
to spend
his blindness grinding
at the millstone.

And for Rehab
and her scarlet cord,
they could not resist
this holy hoard,
and all within
her city
had to perish.

And when Bathsheba
captured David’s eye
Uriah the Hittite
had to die
upon the field
of love
and lust for honor.

And for Salome
the king allowed,
an unchaste dance
and solemn vow,
to leave
this headless prophet
on her platter.

And for warmth of flesh
and earthly love,
I cursed the name
of God above,
and trampled
neath my feet
his holy logos.

And for the worship
of this foreign queen,
and for want of all
these things obscene,
I did drink the wine
of God
in all his fury.

And angels came
from far and wide,
forming lines
on heavens side,
and prepared to fight
these dragons
roaming freely.

And torrents rise
from the great abyss,
to block the sun
with hardened fist,
to place this
blasphemous name
upon my forehead.

And mountains burn
up to their peaks,
and death eludes me
where I seek,
and I thirst
for all these waters
turning bitter.

And hail and fire
mixed with blood,
fills my heart
with rising floods,
and a third
of all things holy
has been plundered.

So I bow before
the throne and lamb,
wearing black
with branch in hand,
to plead
for just one part
of that remaining.

But the roar of thunders
rumbling clash,
with quaking earth
and lightning flash,
is cast
upon my flesh
with all its yearnings.

And the sun turns black
within my hand,
as starlight falls
at her command,
and the blood red moon
shines dim
on my horizon.

And angels play
prophetic harps,
and demons with
their sickles sharp,
descend this
holy harvest
left untended.

And satan laughs
at my defeat,
as fate declares
the day complete,
as I stand within
this final
tribulation.

And upon the earth
all trumpets blow,
as seven angels
empty bowls,
and the walls
of Babylon
fall down before me.

And so I begged the queen
for my release,
before a thousand years
of love and peace,
from the weight
of all the pressure
of these hardships.

But with sharpened teeth
this queen did reap,
my unclean soul
as fuel to keep,
to burn within
the caldron
of her rubble.

And when upon the clouds
the lamb arrived,
beneath his feet
these demons writhed,
as he pulled me
from this grave
to stand convicted.

And Hades followed
close behind,
the paled out
horseman in my mind,
and with ten thousand
times ten thousand
demons crying.

I confessed to him
I still believed,
as he wiped away
this mark I grieve,
as I placed
within his side
my curious finger.

And much to my
hard sought relief,
his chains of mercy
bound this thief,
and restrained him
to the confines
of this chasm.

And with his blood
to wash me fresh,
he set me back
within this flesh,
to walk
within the gift
of his forgiveness.

In arche
is the logos form,
and out of this
all things are born,
to struggle
in the strife
of this world system.

This is the life
and light of all,
within all things
both great and small,
and the power
of this word
is grace and truth.

And in this life
this light within,
enlightens all
who enter in,
but its own
within this world
refuse to see it.

And the darkness
comprehends it not,
but those partaking
of this thought,
will inherit
like a child
this noble treasure.

To wisely spend
so as to earn,
a hundred fold
on its return,
this gift of grace
we gain
so undeserving.

So in gratitude
I make my start,
and praise his name
within my heart,
for the truth
that fills my soul
and mind renewing.

And to be twice born
within his death,
to love once more
with spirit breath,
and to enter
through the gates
of new Jerusalem.

FIN

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Keith’s story

(“….I wrote it quickly to you that you might better understand the poem and its meaning.”):

My story is this, when I was young I was wild, I drank and did drugs, dropped out of school, and got in trouble with the law. As I came into my twenties things escalated. I no longer did drugs but drank every day until drinking became not only the norm for me but a necessity. I had a few run ins with the law, DWI, drunk and disorderly, assault, and several treatment centers, but none of these things convinced me to stop. Until I had a beautiful baby girl. But when I looked in the crib I didn’t feel the love. I was shocked at how unfeeling I had become. I thought I was broken. I checked my self into treatment one more time. But I was sure I was beyond reprieve.

While I was in treatment someone asked me if I believed in God and suggested I pray. I told them I did not believe in God and wasn’t about to pray to something that did not exist. They suggested that I might want to give it a try sense nothing else seemed to take away my obsession with alcohol. They said “just act as if you believe” and pray every night before bed for two weeks, and if you don’t get any results than no harm no foul. That night I decided to try to do just that. But when I got on my knees I didn’t feel worthy enough to be that high up off the ground, so I laid my face on the floor and I cried, I said the Lord’s Prayer and I asked God to make me a new man, and if he was real to please give me a sign. I repeated this several times with tears flowing out onto the floor.

When I got up off the floor, I thought, “well I did what they said, what now?” When I laid back down on my bed I noticed a strange light and a feeling of total peace, the light was like white smoke and I thought the place must be on fire, so I got up and looked out my door, and it was there in the hallway too, I looked out my window and it was there too. But I noticed that the patterns in this white smoke didn’t change as they passed through the walls, or moved at all when I fanned them with my hands. I didn’t smell anything burning, and I had a peaceful feeling, and a feeling of wonder. So I laid back down and tried to think about it reasonably. I decided I was either experiencing withdrawal or maybe, this was God showing me a sign. I hadn’t had a drink for well over a week so withdrawal seemed to be a bit questionable, and when I pondered God, I felt my joy increase, and I thought maybe this was the Holy Spirit, and that is what I decided to believe.

This is the best way I can explain what happened because what happened that night is really beyond words. But I saw this light and felt this joy, to a lesser degree, everywhere I went for the next few days until the world came in and took it away, but the feelings did not subside so quickly. They went on for weeks, months, and years.

After treatment I returned to my childhood home and to my mother and father and asked them if I could stay with them until I got back on my feet. And without giving them a chance to respond I told them that something about me had changed, I told them I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t expect them to believe me, but if they gave me the chance I would try to prove it to them, not through words but through actions, and I told them that although I was sorry for hurting them with all my selfishness, I was not going to ask their forgiveness, because I have said I’m sorry too many times before, and failed to prove it out in action. And I told them that if I fail to prove my self in any way, that I will understand if they asked me to leave, without hard feelings and without question.

By the time I had finished I was in tears, my mother was crying and even my father was tearing up, and they said ok, and we hugged. And they told me they didn’t trust that I wouldn’t drink again and that it might take a long time to gain that trust back. And if they thought I was drinking again I would have to leave. And they welcomed me back.

After this I want to see my baby girl, and I cried tears of joy when I held her, because I had never felt more love for another person than I did for that child. And I decided then that I would do whatever I had to do to prove my love to her everyday of her life. And that I would be her protector and provider and the best father I could be.

Her mother was a drug addict and me and her would never be a couple, so I knew I had to seek custody and try to raise her as best I could on my own, while letting her have full access to her mother, never saying a bad word about her mother, and trying to help my baby girl through all the struggles she was bound to face with her mother’s addiction, with forgiveness, with understanding, with faith and with love.

I found a job pretty quick and bought myself a mobile home in a nice park in the suburbs, and I started saving for a house.

I got my daughter every Wednesday and every weekend without fail until I got custody of her when she was five. Two years later I got married and we had another little girl and a little boy and we bought a house with the help of my parents.

We sent them all to private schools, my oldest daughter to Catholic school because that was my upbringing until she went to high school, when she went to a WELS Lutheran school, my two youngest children went to a WELS Lutheran school because that was my wife’s upbringing, for several years, until we decided to look into the Missouri Synod, and we felt at home immediately, and we both joined and sent the youngest to Central Lutheran K-8 here in St. Paul.

My father passed away in 1997 and I helped my mother to live a comfortable life up until two years ago when we were told she had terminal cancer. She never returned home and passed 6 months latter. She asked me to stop by the home she was in before I went to work, after work, and before I went to bed at night. Not so much to see her, but to let her care takers know that someone was always checking on her, because she felt vulnerable and afraid. And this I did religiously, until she passed. And although it was the most difficult thing I had ever done, I was blessed to get to know my mother on a whole other deeper and more meaningful level then I’ve ever known anyone in my entire life.

When she passed I was lost, I went from every moment being driven to take care of my mother’s needs for six months to having an empty spot in every day. I no longer had any direction, my oldest girl was married and moved out of state, my youngest daughter was finishing up high school and going off to collage, and my youngest was going into high school, being a teenage boy, and not needing my attention as much. The place I worked at decided to outsource my position, my wife was working two jobs, and we were near foreclosure.

And after twenty years of God given sobriety, and service to others, I hurt myself at work, they gave me Vicodin for the pain and not long after that, I drank again. And everything spiraled pretty quickly out of control. Ending in a DWI, a police chase, guns drawn outside the front of my house with all my neighbors, and my wife standing in front of our house, watching the whole thing play out. A night in jail and a very understanding judge.

So these are just a few of the highlights that might shed some light on the meaning of this poem. A wild life, the prodigal son, my conversion, the gift of endurance, and my failure in the face of this one temptation, and the whore of Babylon representing my return to alcohol, and the tribulations that followed, and the free gift of Gods grace, always welcoming, always forgiving, always calling, even in my doubts and questionings, and in my straying, and even when all else is lost, the Lamb is never absent, always present, and all I need to ever do, is look for him, and without fail, he is there, he lives, and the gates of Jerusalem are always open, and no temple is erected, because the Lamb and God are the temple. And he shall be our God, and we shall be his children, forevermore…

FIN

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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