Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Not by us

Not by us, Yahweh, not by us, by You alone is glory deserved.

Yes, not by us, not by me,
but what is it we do deserve?
What is it?

This morning, though the sun be bright,
is one of those days when everything I do
and am seems dark to me.

On my own, I affirm, I can do nothing.
Without Him, I confess, I am nothing.
It seems believable,
everything my enemies say about me,
if I have any friends,
and I understand in the depths of my bones
that there is no truth in me. 

Because the truth hurts.
The truth stings.
Even if it is not
the whole truth and nothing but the truth,
even if it is only a part.

Well does the devil know this,
as he spends his nights showing to each
the sins and faults of others,
their shortcomings,
their imperfections,
their willful selfishness,
while concealing one’s own.

So he laughs us to scorn,
using our lust for glory as his trump card,
breaking us at the very moment
we think we have achieved victory
over others.

On the way to work,
I pass in full, unashamed view the glory of mankind
on a street that claims its fame
from the prostitutes that ply their trade there.
In the morning
one sometimes sees an unfortunate,
having been scooted out of the bed of a one night stand
onto the street
without having had time to tidy herself up,
but not this morning.

I pass a group of four or five handsome youth,
seniors probably,
walking their way together to the high school up ahead.
They are all so happy,
friendliness for each other streaming from glad hearts,
oblivious of what lies ahead.

Innocent in his glory,
the nearest catches my eye,
a tall, slender youth,
his mocha face trimmed in scanty, light brown whiskers,
modly bespectacled—qué guapo!
—my soul rejoices to see him
and speaks a blessing on him and his friends,
that their day be bright.

Not by us, Yahweh, not by us, by You alone is glory deserved.

Aching inwardly,
I feel I could write out my complaint in my own blood,
if I had a pen,
but I am humbled when I remember that
One has written in His own blood
not His complaint against us,
but the whole history of the universe from beginning to end,
and what is my cry against when faced with His,
‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?’

I can only continue in seeming despair,
‘How far from saving me the words I groan!’

He has covered all, even me,
with His own vanquished despair and death,
and left me the fruits of a peace
I did nothing to earn.

Along with others, I torment myself
thinking that He has abandoned His friendship for us,
because we sin,
even because we fail,
even when we only think the thoughts
and not do the things that convict us.

But He is nothing like what we think.

Far from punishing,
He stands ready to catch us.

By Your love and Your faithfulness, by Your love and Your faithfulness.
Not by us, Yahweh, not by us, by You alone is glory deserved.

— Romanós

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