Burnt-out Prayer: For Ash Wednesday

King: I cannot come to You however I choose
yet all I am is a bundle
hurriedly put together,
no sack cloth, no ashes,
hair still mussed from slumber,
limbs dragging,
soul flat,
feet not yet expecting to walk…

Can I come to You as a stowaway,
scarcely awake, found among cargo,
hiding like Jonah while the waves ravage?
I bring no grand promise,
no sufficiency,
only the startled eyes of one caught unawares
and the knowledge that, when before kings, I must bow,
and, when cast in oceans, to swim.

Though forty days are hardly enough
for the numbness of limbs to distribute itself
and for fingers to learn, once again, how to pray –
I come to you, King, in dishevelled dismay
and declare my all dross at Your feet.
If my Amen burns faint now
or my wick dwindles, short,
may You be my prayer’s substance,
its fire,
its fuel.

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