During Lent, we remember the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness, and we mark our own periods of wilderness, grief, fasting, and doubt—our need, ultimately, for resurrection. Here, Jessica Hoekstra, a second-year MA in Counseling Psychology student, shares a poem wrestling with how doubt, anxiety, and sadness affect her understanding of humanity, divinity, and lament.
A Grief Remembered (February, Lent)
It is not difficult to be reminded of my humanity.
The mark of the divine is less apparent. It gets shadowed
by my doubts and defenses, by my efforts to survive.
I stand at the edge of a garden, peeking in at paradise,
wondering yet how there could be an echo of the holy in such a skin.
Here, the harsh February wind lashes across the edges of a frozen Lake Michigan,
banks of sandy snow packed solid and mountainous along a horizon with no ranges to claim.
A day later, the wind has whipped in warmth, and with it, the mountains shift unsteadily.
I gingerly step out onto the ice, testing the unpredictable tundra.
My skin prickles with hesitation and I am reminded of the One who beckoned to the disciple
and Peter’s own wavering faith. I admire him more for sinking.
His doubt I understand. I balk at his faith.
Doesn’t he know Jeremiah hung for 40 days in a pit of dung because the Lord was making a point?
Does he know what that does to a body, a soul?
The air now damp and gritty scratches at my eyes. I let it.
Like knotted nautical rope, anxiety snarls in my stomach, sadness coils around my throat.
I remember the dirge, my own jeremiad.
The waves smash and roll and my heart beats in time on the ice now altered.
I speak at last what my loyal doubt had been too scared to, a courageous lament:
“He does not see what happens to us.”
But Jeremiah did not die. With padded ropes, he was lifted out of the cistern.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
My stubborn heart says yes. I steal a look at the clouded sun,
close my eyes to scourging sand and recall: human and holy both.
Forgive me, but if you can hear the reeds wheeze and sigh then still,
you apprehend the holy.
Though the threnody of a heart yet wails, must it be explained?
When the bone-weary body can no longer keep watch,
the question formed at my dry, cracked lips,
there is a watchman set.