June 21, 2011 / Creative Writing
Editor’s Note: In 2010, The Other Journal published The Spirit of Food: Thirty-Four Writers on Feasting …
April 2, 2006
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
The tomb’s black jaw
cored and crushed me, too.
But see, my heap of brittle bones
rises up to crawling,
puts on a shred of flesh,
Sometimes hope is in the hands and knees,
even when the heart lies still.
If I had thought it through,
If he had been there,
If I had spoken—
Well, this I know:
A scattering of ifs clutters the heart
like dishes and scraps left after a meal.
I will not let this rest,
Faith pushes on in the pace,
in the rhythm, small and slow,
like a broom, sweeping, sweeping.
I will try his mercy as I might.
Does not the goat give her sweet milk
only when we draw it out?
Does not the water lie still in the well
unless we pull, pull, with aching back?
Our mother Rebecca—did she not rise up
and carve a blessing for Israel?
Then I will say,
“Even now, Lord.”
Some say I press too hard on the yoke.
Let it be so; I cannot wait and weep.
He is tender to the patient, silent, helpless;
but Jacob’s daughter stirs his glory—
going out to meet him.
Debra Rienstra is an associate professor of English at Calvin College. She has written two books, Great With Child: On Becoming a Mother, a personal meditation on motherhood, and So Much More: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality, which is a gentle introduction to the Christian faith. Rienstra writes literary non-fiction, poetry, and literary criticism, and teaches early British literature and creative writing.