Penitential – a poem by Tony Lucas


What offering can you hope to bring
to set upon the altar?
Nothing but broken pieces of small lives -
hopes that have faltered,
plans ineffectually pursued,
entanglement with trivial minds,
the needs unmet, the dreams untrue.
Frustrated in attempts to build, to grow,
the shards and fragments only can be laid
in hope of wiser spirits who will know
to mend the cracks, to fill out gaps,
discern the patterns you could not attain.
It could be pleaded that you tried –
not always, and not hard enough –
fell short of making beauty, speaking truth,
nurturing the vulnerabilities of love. 
Both knowledge and ability
far less than you supposed.
Unable to accomplish on your own
things better brought about in company
or done through - even in spite of – you;
only a hope that trust is being learned
humility enough to be the vehicle
of a provident, if contradictory, grace.

Tony Lucas is retired from parish ministry but continues work of editing and spiritual direction.  His poetry has appeared widely, on both sides of the Atlantic, and past collections Rufus At Ocean Beach (Stride/Carmelyon) and Unsettled Accounts (Stairwell Books) remain available.

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