Thou Wast With Me...Always

RocioMontoya

RocioMontoya

 

 

Once, during a Bible Study as an undergrad, our leader told us to draw a boat and then to draw Jesus. The point was to reflect on our relationship with the Lord. Where was He in our picture?

 

 

 

I think I drew him somewhere on the shore, not anywhere near my boat. For a long while, I’ve been haunted by a familiar anxiety: he isn’t anywhere near. Prayers dripping with anxiety seem too heavy to reach Jesus. The desire to fix myself—to just open up more so I can better know the Creator of the Universe and my own heart—is strong. Yet this is not how God works.

What comes to mind as I reflect on that picture from years ago is a quote from St. Augustine in his Confessions: “For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee.”

So perhaps I drew that picture wrong. Perhaps it was not Jesus that should have been on the shore, but me. And maybe He’s always been the one in the boat of my heart, and I am the one who needs to find her way back to that place with him.

The following poem began to bloom in prayer one day. Instead of the usual worrying (and sometimes sleeping) that usually comprises my prayer time, I was just being, just listening. And what came to my mind was a boat, with a man paddling and a woman sitting across from him, smiling, as they looked at each other with love.

But it occurred to me as the poem later emerged that it was a love not easily cultivated. Mark’s parable of the sower wove itself into the poem, and it was apparent that the woman most identified with the third kind of seed sown, as Mark 4:18-19 describes: “Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.” Her journey to the boat—to her own heart—was a long one.

That this woman is in the boat by the poem’s end gives my often restless mind a little hope. St. Augustine also once wrote, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” God is close, the anchor that plunges amid the strong tides of worry and fear, and holds our boats fast. He is the lover who is always inviting his sons and daughters back to a familiar place: into the infinite space of their own hearts.

The Third Kind of Seed


The man in the white-pressed shirt,

rows, eyes eager, intent

upon the woman across from him,

curly hair, sun-found skin glowing,

dress in the modern-Victorian fashion:

a-line, lace.

 

Oar to water, finesse of movement,

trail rippling back, the rhythm

of near silence.

 

He finds her eyes,

the woman who for all her trials can meet

his wondering gaze.

 

There was a time when she placed silver locks

on her doors because words had choked her before;

and she had found the secret to living alone, wordless.

 

Flight, her hiding, from the broken heart she carried,

from the beating broken hearts

that could tear her gardens apart

with words, scythes, eyes.

 

She was a fragile being then,

believed in many lies,

that for her heart alone

there could be no dance,

so that as the season passed,

she had given up her hope in joy—

manna melting in the sun.

 

Then one day there was the man,

sure-footed, fleet,

reaching for the door with the silver locks,

knock resounding into recesses of a house

that seemed empty.

 

Those first days, she stood frozen,

shallow-breathed,

tears forging familiar trails,

glinting on the wooden floor.

Heart—an ornament hanging high,

beyond even her reach.

 

The man came every day, quiet.

Every day she heard the knock.

But she was being choked

by words, whispers, lies.

She fingered a light lace dress,

but clothed herself in grey.

 

Years deep, the courage

to look upon the man, radiant-faced,

no trace of tiredness at the wait.

The click of little locks.

 

Door ajar, a slant of sun,

like a tomb-rock rolled back slightly.

The fear present, but also the trust

that the one crossing the threshold

would not be like the others.

 

Old, tired words fade.

He pulled the sheets from furniture,

gold and red threads glimmered in the sun,

light splashing into the carvings of the wood,

took her hand, led her to the garden.

 

In the garden where nothing grows,

there is a heavy vine of thorns,

suffocating the seed sprouts at the roots.

With pruning shears, he breaks the grip,

light erases shadow.

And in the night of the thorn-pierced earth she finds

there were still pilgrim plants rising—

the day she opened the door.

 

And now the world passes by in smooth strokes,

sun-sparks dancing across the surface,

her thoughts, the flowering of almond blossoms,

little white-sailed ships soaking in

the last of the glorious light.

 

The man’s eyes have never left her,

 she who is now transfigured by flame.

 

A word drifts through an open door:

Gaudium.*

Breaking the broken land into furrows,

gaudium,

scraping away the impediments of sorrow,

gaudium.

 

Once, the woman would have allowed the thorns,

the weeds, room to run soul-wide.

But now, to the poem of the rippling tide,

she can watch his work unfold

as the world folds into night

and the brightening of stars.

 

Gaudium—the word has found a resting place. 

*Latin word for joy


Lindsey Weishar is a twenty-something who enjoys traveling, exploring the origins of words, and writing poetry. An English major in college, I love finding little gems of meaning in what I'm reading and in the world around me. I hope I can share with others the beauty of the faith, and that each person is an expression of God's love.