Ode to Phoenix in Summer

Waves of heat dance off the pavement, ominous vipers hissing, “don’t passsss by here…”

The neighboring cactus, equally uninviting: “Do not touch. Do not touch. Do not touch…”

The few green growing things, they all have claws. “I am not food. I won’t be harvested. I am not food.”

The sun– elsewhere mother of all– works here to push life away. “Do not plant. Do not sow. Do not plant. Do not grow.”

Driving all life inside; to shade, to cover, a forced-air shelter, a man-made cave.

Dust where all should be air and light. Cracked earth, hard as stone. Nothing moves. Nothing breathes.

It might be Mars. Or a midwest winter.

All creation pants and faints. Water, a far-off dream.

And yet…

From dust, we were born…And to dust, we will return.

Thus reminded, the people go wandering, seeking:

A breath of life in the desert; water as yet unseen.

It rushes beneath our feet, some unseen wonder.

We catch a glimpse of green, struggling up for light, just as we go hiding from the sun.

Thirsty and failing, we move in the rhythm of an ever-living stream.

Somewhere, there is shade and rest. Somewhere, a well that can’t run dry.

We move, and a long-forgotten promise echoes over the wasteland:

Only the weary will seek true rest.

Only the thirsty find living water.

Only those who choke on the dust, will seek a breath of the holy.

“Don’t pass by. Do not touch. Do not plant. Do not live…”

But somewhere, a small hope sings to the wilderness.

I’m led beside still waters. My soul is restored.

Goodness. Mercy. Water from rocks, and manna from heaven.

It’s a thirsty benediction.

But we can wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://www.facebook.com/skingsbery Sarah Kingsbery

    Beautiful.

  • Linda Siegwald

    Loved the poem! Very uplifting for a week of record-breaking temperatures in a place where a wise woman I know once observed that “everything that lives here wants to kill you.” Thanks for the point of view!


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