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The Beautiful Distance

What is Weakness? 

I know him well. 
The distance between
What I want to do, 
And what I do.

The distance between
My mind and my lips
My will and my hands. 

All that I am 
Not. And all that I 

A wide gulf fixed between
Myself and the person I wish to be.

Caution, lest you see this
As a false humility. 
I been living
Here a long while, and 
Paying attention. 

I know me. 

I’ve held my own 
Face in my hands, 
Taken a good look
At the one smiling back
At me. I mean a good look. 
Deep into those eyes. 
Full of all that I hate. 
Closer. Till I can smell
The saltiness of his
Pores. Till forehead
Knocks against forehead, 
Cheek against cheek, 
Stubble poking me
Like a warning. I know him. 

It’s like breathing for him ...
To burn with resentment, 
When someone is inconvenient, 
And never say a word. 
To stand in self righteousness
With his foot on someone else’s neck. 
In his own mind. 
To win a thousand arguments
Without speaking a word. 
Like breathing for him ...
To take the easy way out. He loves
The low road. He loves the praise
Of men. Spreads his arms, tilts his neck, 
And beckons with his fingers
For worship and adoration. 
And inside he’s a coward, 
A trembling child in a world
Of bullies. Don’t let his 6’3,” 200 lbs. 
Fool you. He wants you to think
He is more than he is. He’s 
Not a doctor, but he plays one on TV. 
He would break his own neck to show you
Only the good side, to hide.

This is the one living
In me. The one you might
Never guess. 

Maybe you don’t want to believe me.
You think I’m being too hard. 
Or maybe you think I am a 
Special kind of crazy. 
Or maybe, just familiar.   
Because you have one, too. 
Living there in the cellar of you.  
Someone you hate. Someone
To hide. 

I cannot count the times
When, collapsed on the floor,
I cry out to God and face the
Wasteland, the broad expanse
Of nothingness. Knowing that
I must do a noble, hard thing, and 
Knowing I have no power
To perform it. Curled around
That fact in the fetal position, 
Crying and begging God. 
While my stomach hurts.

We wrestle, he and I. 
My Weakness is strong. And it’s 
Ugly fighting, the gritty, grunting 
Kind that happens
In back alleys where no one
Is looking. No crowds leering, 
No one to break it up. Just
Awkward punch and kick
And bite if you can, blood 
And bruise and exertion
Until you are both swinging
In drunken slow motion, falling on 
Each other, breathing hard. 
Tasting blood. 

There comes a point
When you realize 
There is no winning. 
He is my equal in every 
Way. The counterpoint
To every point. The Weakness
To all my strength. 

And I know, with my face
Rubbed raw against the concrete, 
I know, with the salted copper 
taste of blood, I know, 
Laying down, looking 
Up at him, that I am not
God. And I will never win. 

And this is beautiful. 
This is beautiful. 
My heart begins to understand. 
And I begin to love this moment 
With a passion that makes my blood 

I am not God, 
And I will never win. 

I am not God, 
And I will never win. 

I am not God. 

And I stand, trembling, 
Knees cracking as I rise, blood 
Flowing, and I walk to him: 
My Weakness. 
The one I hate. And I 
Hold him in my arms. 
And he lets me. 

And weeping, I thank God
Over him with joy. And I cry to God, 
My God, the one who knows me. 
The one who has placed me here, 

In this back alley, 
The one who has 
Gifted me this Weakness, 
Blessed me with this enemy,
That I might know who I am,
And who I am not,
And what I am for. 

I am not God. 
And I will never win. 

There is a locked door
Called Weakness. 
Reinforced iron forged by God. 
And my years of thrashing
Will not truly scratch or dent. 
For this wrought iron door
Is my teacher, heaven sent. 
To teach my fists
To fold, and to teach my shouts
To plead with the One who 
Holds the keys. 

I have become a slave
To hope. A beggar for grace. 
Lazarus waiting for Christ
To raise him from the dead. 

I am nobody,
Waiting for a name. 
I am a blank page
For the Poet, 
A new canvas
For the Artist. 

Oh Joy, my Weakness!
Acres of blackened soil, 
Ready, longing, crying out
For the farmer to sow 
His seeds, to grow
Lavish crops of green. 

My good Father waits, 
With arms full of good seed, 
Reading the skies, 
Waiting for His season
To plant, and water, and grow. 

And I will boast in the stillness. 
I will glory in my lack of power. 
I will relish my inability. 

For my God has thrown open
The locked gates of my Weakness

And the King of Glory

Has come in. 

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