Monday, August 2, 2010

Aplogies for the long hiatus occassioned by my summer work in Clinical Pastoral Education. I've been drawn to and fascinated by the story of Elijah's sojourn by the brook Cherith, in which God responds to his desire for death by sending a raven to feed him bread. I was actually asked to preach on this passage during my first weekend on-call at the hospital for the ecumenical worship service, and its proven a mirror full of rich reflection ever since. This sonnet was written after a difficult on-call shift last Thursday night in which I was present at several deaths, and was also being confronted by struggles and shadows in my own past and present. I had also been reading Donne's "Death Be Not Proud" - hence the old-school English. Enjoy.

Elijah’s Raven
1 Kings 17.1-7

By the brook called Cherith, in the wilderness,
falling, without floating, through the breathless air,
a black feather betokened His reply
borne in your beak. Thy beating wings do bless

my weary days by bringing me their end –
I greet thee, brother, and this blessed answer
to the prayer of pain that is my prophet’s
power and call – for these you make amends.

Thou, dark phoenix, who resurrects each night
unique and unrepeatable for each one,
not carrion come to take and destroy
but act, creation, poem, psalm, freedom, flight,

O Death - what’s this - manna in thy maw I see?
By thy wings’ shadow - thou bringst my life to me?


  1. What a lovely sonnet Matthew. CPE is a challenging time especially when surrounded by death and being the one to bring comfort to the families of those who have lost a loved one. I love the last two lines of the sonnet, nicely done.

  2. Matthew--So glad to see you're back to writing. Please keep it up. This was beautiful. -pax, nl

  3. OOH preserve the volta until the couplet. I always like that, it's so dramatic

    miss you guys