Sunday, 6 January 2013


image by Daniel Murtagh

They say   when asked,
your dog-collar friends
that you must suffer;
as you slowly
drift towards the end.
They say that He is testing you,
giving you the chance to make amends,
and I wonder if you always knew
you’d writhe
in most exquisite pain
to bring glory, glory to His name.

I am not ready to give you up,
would do all to keep you alive
and strive with prayer
to plead
too soon too soon
please don’t take this man  
who shared Your flesh,
drank Your blood from precious Cup,
but no man is from death immune
and from life’s first breath we begin to die
and Lord you will not hear my cry
lest he should not come unto Thee.

I weep as I watch you wounded,  writhe
and change my plea to that of sweet release
for *nothing ‘gainst times scythe
can make defence
and entreat the Lord to grant you peace.

Tis twilight now
and I gaze as cirrus thin-wisp
the vast expanse of reddened skies,
and in awe of it,
want so to believe
that Heaven does indeed exist,
that when life doth finally cease, 
in death your soul will gently rise
and you will sit with Him

in Eternal Peace.

Anna :o]

I first began writing the above in response to dVerse's prompt of Peace and distracted by other things it fell by the wayside.  Then I saw Tess’s prompt at The Mag and the woman looking out of the window reminded me of the evening I looked out of the window – the day after my dads death – and the beauty of the skies made me think of the possibility that Heaven may exist.

The poem is of course about my dad and I should give a bit of history.

I was raised in a religious household – but a home where religion was a comfort and by no means oppressive – no Hell and Damnation.  Despite this warm atmosphere I cannot ever remember believing in God.  I spent periods of time in hospital as a child and saw a lot of suffering there.  I can remember my mum and dad saying – when comparing my relatively minor problems with those other children – “You have so much to thank God for Anna” and my response was “But what have they got to thank God for?” and they could not answer this.

My brother ran away from home when he was nine – he too conflicted between his ‘need’ to honour his parents beliefs and the lack of his own.  Upon his return much talking was done and my parents said they had realised a long time ago that I did not believe too.  My brother and I never attended church (with my parents) again after that.  It must have hurt my parents deeply – but wonderful good souls as they were – we were never treated any differently.

When I was ten my dad gave up his job in Law and devoted his life to his God – becoming a ‘missionary’ and a lay-preacher – not the Bible-bashing kind rather a man who gently wished to spread the love of his God.

Some twenty or so years ago – across weeks – he died an agonising death and I asked his colleagues why his God was treating him so.  They responded with the usual platitudes’ “God works in mysterious ways” and “He is testing him” and when I asked why He was testing him – a good kind man who had devoted his life to Him – they could not come up with a satisfactory answer.

So it is fair to say I have never believed in God – but for my mum and dads sake – I truly truly truly hope I am wrong and they exist in eternal peace with their God in Heaven.

*”nothing ‘gainst times scythe can make defence” – wonderful words borrowed from Shakespeare – Sonnet XII.  (It’s okay – he says so and he and I are good friends!)


Mary said...

Anna, this is the most powerful, moving write (poem and explanation)that I have read in a while. It is really awful to watch someone go through an agonizing death, and there is no answer to why he is being tested so. Thank you for your honesty and personal story.

I wish I had answers to the question. I too within the past couple years went through the death of someone close who was sorely 'tested'....

I have given up on finding answers....but do believe....

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you were given such poor answers. I believe there are better ones, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss them

Your poem is powerfully poignant. Thanks for sharing it with us - and for sharing some of your story.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

There is so much poignancy in this write--it brings tears to my eyes

^.^ said...

Poor answers or not ... that's all we have ... we live with poor answers everyday ... and yet we go on living ... don't worry about that too much ... believe me, I know ... when ever you are ready ... I'll be there for you ... not with answers but with love and compassion. Always, cat.

R. Burnett Baker said...

As I have grown older, I too have struggled with the reasonings of "faith." It isn't that I don't believe there is something beyond this physical world, I'm just not sure what it is.

I pray. To whom I do not know. While I believe the concepts of heaven and hell to be absolute bunk, devised over centuries by those in power to control the masses, I can't help but think there is SOMETHING.

After all, what would be the reason for beings to think, create, philosophize, and leave legacies if there isn't more to come?

What about love? Why, if this is "it" ?

Your poem and thoughts give me some measure of comfort in knowing that our questions may actually have answers.


Brian Miller said...

what an interesting story you have anna...first your verse moved me as it too me to watching my mother in law die...she did over 2 was very hard to watch and the final days were some of the hardest in my life...

Heaven said...

I am touched by your personal share Anna ~ I believe that in our lifetime we may never know the answers for sure, but I have hope in the goodness of men and our eventual fate ~ Cheers ~

Cressida de Nova said...

This is so interesting. Your parents were extraordinary to give you your freedom at such a young age...a gift.

It is amazing that you never ever believed in God coming from that background. God is not there to be blamed for the holocaust pain death and destruction . It is all part of the human experience . The good are not rewarded -there is no reward system- well not in a way one expects to be rewarded . Why do some people have dream runs and others more worthy do not. Maybe the dream runs are not all they are cracked up to be! Maybe a family sitting on the ground eating rice is having a better experience.

It is all very complex and subjective and some scripture is open to much interpretation.

I actually would prefer not to believe in anything. But I always have in spite of myself.I see God in a lot of things especially in nature and the animal world..But I think to know God you must spend a lot of time alone which is not possible for most people in modern day life.

I love talking about ontology and theology and could go on and on
I don't know absolutely about the after life. I suspect there is truth in it. I also believe God does not show himself to everyone.
I do not know why. I do believe he shows himself to people who do not want to know. All very Puzzling. I am always looking for solutions. It is in my nature . But this...too hard basket! Thanks for an interesting poem and discussion.

mrs mediocrity said...

I have very similar thoughts and feelings to yours... I am so sorry for your loss, may he be in a place that brings him peace.

anthonynorth said...

Great words - powerful yet poignant.

Frances Garrood said...

Oh, Anna. How sad. But beautifully put.

As for God and suffering, do try A Life Transformed. It's about a Jewish girl in Auschwitz - Etty Hillesum - and is an inspiring testament of a suffering, and joyous, life lived by faith in a god who suffers with us. I too have many problems with God, but I know at least one person whose life has been changed by this little book. ( I'm sorry- I've forgotten the author's name).

Martin said...

One of your best, Anna.

Myrna R. said...

Wow. Both your poem and your explanation kept me enthralled. Good writing here. And I'm with you - hope there is a Heaven.

Tigerbrite said...

So beautiful and so very sad.
Yes there is a higher spiritual plane where the ascended masters are. God, as the church presents, may not exist or be a demi god of the universe. The true spiritual realms are cosmic and we are spiritual beings having a material experience. We can reach the higher planes without the help of a priest, good and conscientious as they may be.
Peace be with you.

Claudia said...

ow wow anna...a moving poem and a moving story..

Carrie Burtt said...

Honest, brave, and true....a powerful heart felt piece Ana...thank you for sharing a part of your heart. :-)

Luke Prater said...

I find this particularly stirring emotionally at this time in my life as I still have both parents but they are growing frailer and frailer and I only just realised the other day how SHIT SCARED I am of losing them. I'm terrified, Anna. If I was in a better place, feeling stronger, I may feel vaguely apprehensive and sad about the prospect, but being under the weather as I am (so chronically at the moment anyway), all is made a hundred times worse. I have two sisters who are strong girls and they will be there but I just so scared. And I realise it's a selfish fear, because they are very spiritual people, we all are, and we all know all that passes is meant, and there are reasons for, and we all believe in reincarnation in our own ways. It's my inability to cope with the physical loss in this lifetime, and the emotional pain, that I'm so afraid of. I just don't feel equipped right now.

I digress... this is a very evocative piece, well done my friend. You seem cope with it better than I might have.

Friko said...

Belief is a very personal matter. I lack it in spite of having been to a religious school, but that hasn’t stopped me wondering.

You have obviously thought deeply about this question. That’s the nature of faith, you have it or you don’t, there is no certainty either way.

Little Nell said...

I wasn't prepared for this very moving poem, but it rings so true for me too. My own Dad died just a few weeks ago after a harrowing four months in hospital. Because of his age it was a more of a release and you have my sympathies that you have had the last twenty years of questioning. Here's the poem I wrote about him.

Robyn Greenhouse said...

The history you provided is so touching. How amazing your parents where to allow you and your brother to find your own paths/answers at such young ages. I hope writing helps you to find some healing.

Victoria said...

So much pain in this prayer-like poem...there is just so much we don't know or understand and there really is no answer to your question, why--is there? You've done a good job of evoking emotion in this.

Green Speck said...

This is really beautiful ... the story moved me !!!

Anonymous said...

We, I don't think are meant to understand everything, but are certainly designed to lean in, draw near to God, especially during trying times for there is a comfort to be had, wisdom to be gained from such a relationship with Him.

Powerful writing.

Arron Shilling said...

Tis twilight now
and I gaze as cirrus thin-wisp
the vast expanse of reddened skies,
and in awe of it,
want so to believe
that Heaven does indeed exist

some great shaping here anna,
really working the words into
something which is a pleasure to read :)

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank-you for your welcome comments folks.

It is true that I have thought long and hard before responding to same. It is also true that my non-belief in the God of orthodox religions appears to set me apart (to some who follow same) as a lesser-being.

Due to the guidance and love of wonderful parents I consider myself a very spiritual person and a good person and I have a natural and genuine concern for others. Am I a humanist – I don’t know – I am me.

It is perhaps foolish of me to put my trust in mankind – for, for every war and unkind deed leaves me fearful of our future, we seem intent on destroying ourselves and this beautiful thing we call Earth.

I have always been a thinker – from a very early age and my parents encouraged this thirst for knowledge, this (attempt) to understand my world in me and for that I am eternally grateful.

From the time my dad devoted his life to his God – our house was often full of priests, padres, vicars and missionaries – often from abroad (and they stayed over). I can remember discussing entry to Heaven with a Canadian missionary and asked him if I (who consider myself a good soul) as a non-believer would be accepted there and my ‘sin’ of non-belief be forgiven. He said “No.” I then asked if a despotic leader (who believed in God) who committed genocide would – and he said “Yes” as his sins would be forgiven. I could not and cannot make sense of this.

As to the creation of this wonderful Universe – simple question is if that God created the Universe – who created Him. Tis too easy to say He just existed. If the Universe is the result of the ‘Big Bang’- where did the infinitesimally small hot and dense singularity come from? I don’t know or pretend to know.

I only know that I am a spiritual being and do wonder if there is the potential for a God to exist us in all?

Anna :o]

Fred Rutherford said...

this is so good Anna. Really love the feeling that comes through the words here. Very nicely done. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you've quite another poem in that wonderful explanation ~ peace, Jason

Dave King said...

Fascinating: both the poem and your notes on its back story. I did start off - very young - believing in God, but was always the heretic. I became an altar boy at a very young age - too young! Apart from that beginning our two stories would have a lot of overlap. My upbringing was warm, not overly religious, but we went to church and Sunday School (I rather fancy that iof we'd kicked up a bit, it wouldn't have been insisted upon). At one stage I wanted to become an industrial missionary. I can't remember now how I thought of God back then. Most of my books were theological, but over the years they've morphed into poetry books. I rather go for Wallace Stevens contention that poetry has taken over from religion.

JANU said...

This is touching...a different take on the prompt.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank-you so much for your welcome comments - much appreciated!

Anna :o]

Brian Miller said...

growing up...that is todays...

hope work is not too rough today....

and your pen fruitful...


Bee's Blog said...

Your poem is moving and is obviously as a result of your experiences. They are always the best. I cannot close off without commenting on your personal, moving post scripts. Your parents were indeed truly loving and very wise. By not forcing you into a `religious setting` or their beliefs, they gave you an amazing gift. The gift of choice. Perhaps they secretly hoped that one day you and your brother would accept their beliefs. I am sure they prayed for it! As far as your misguided Canadian missionary is concerned, he was very wrong to tell you that without a full explanation. He should have added that it`s generally believed that if a monster professes regret, sorrow and sincerely asks for forgiveness, he/she will be forgive. We are told that God is a compassionate and forgiving God and I believe this is so. I believe we will be judged on how we lived our lives and not on what we believed or did not believe in. I prefer to refer to my religion as my faith, and my spirituality is between me and my God. I don`t have the answers as to why some suffer whilst others don`t. Some say it`s
a final cleansing prior to going to `heaven`. I guess we won't know until we get there! I work on the fact that I`d rather live my life believing there is a God and finding there isn`t than live it believing there isn`t and finding when I die that there is!
Live your life Anna as the sweet soul you are.

Old Ollie said...

Don't religion get in the way of your faith.

Blessing to you from the Tired Monk!

Stafford Ray said...

Hi Anna, it is often said in Atheist circles that no child is born religious; religion is imposed by his/her family and culture.
I was forced into a cult culture by psychological and physical force, but always secretly wondered why God was really so different in how he acted from how he was portrayed.
Even the Scriptures reveal him as jealous, cruel and genocidal.
Then, as my beloved older relatives started dying, I wondered why He had not tried just a little bit to create an exit strategy that was as miraculous as birth. It's a no-brainer really.

Misterio Vida said...

awesome poem as always anything written by you as usually powerful and hypercryptical :)

and welcome back to me on your blog :)

jaerose said...

There is so much in this piece..I thought beautifully matched with the image also..I think that is god..or at least a godliness..not wishing pain on somebody else..

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank-you for your most welcome comments.

I guess we all - believers and non-believers - pray, entreat to some invisible being in times of need and hurt.

Stafford - I tend to agree that the scriptures reveal a jealous and cruel God and also believe that for every evil act we do we can find a direction to this in whatever Holy Book we follow.

Of course Love is detailed in Holy Books too.

My parents focused on the God that is Love - but unfortunately not everybody does...

Anna :o]

TariqMian said...

very moving poetry Anna!
Pl keep spreading the message.

Love for Peace remains the ultimate goal, in dealing with others, peaceful feelings through practising sincerity and honesty and integrity - during life, and in the Herafter.

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Anna,
That was a fantastic background story -- thank you so much for sharing. And the honest reflection of your complex feeling on this issue were done very nicely in your poem.

The comments were an interesting mix of theological(we-have-answer) exclusive believers, mild believers, universal wishy-washy, neutral folks and non-believers. And, being a poetry blog, there were several that just said the equivalent of "nice poem" -- with the hidden text being "please visit my blog". :-)

Unlike you, I use to be all of the above: the whole range of believers and unbelievers. I change way more than I probably should. :-)

You have sent me a private note inviting me to read your poem, so I am most glad to visit. I have one response to your poem.

You said, "So it is fair to say I have never believed in God – but for my mum and dads sake – I truly truly truly hope I am wrong and they exist in eternal peace with their God in Heaven."

That sentence makes no sense to me -- for if there is no heaven it does not mean your parents are still suffering like their god let them do in their last days. So I don't see why we would hope for a heaven for others. That hope is always selfish -- WE want to think our love ones still exist, we want to think we won't die. We don't want our connectedness to disappear. But the no-heaven option is actually a very nice option. Sleep -- so to speak.

Too bad poetry blogs are pathetic for dialogue. People don't follow threads or engage each other. I understand why, because most people don't go to poetry blogs to talk about ideas and following threads would mean a flooded e-mail box. It would have been fun to hear the various people here in actual dialogue.

Sabio Lantz said...

Oooops, I forgot to follow, which I will do now after the flood of non-following Mr. Linky visitors have died down. :-)

Andy Sewina said...

Wonderful words, moving stuff.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your comments Sabio and Andy.

Sabio – "So it is fair to say I have never believed in God – but for my mum and dads sake – I truly truly truly hope I am wrong and they exist in eternal peace with their God in Heaven."

It makes sense to me in that I hope my parents found their place in heaven with the God they believed in – I hope it for them and not for me, so do not regard it as selfish (and I do not consider they will be suffering still if heaven does not exist). Despite my ‘hope’ I do not believe they exist there or anywhere else and apart from memories there is no connectedness.

I have no desire to die, but accept I will and have no expectations that my consciousness will drift up and exist on some astral plane, conceived in the imagination of those who needed the comfort of an afterlife to give meaning to the state of physical existence.

Eventually I will die and the everlasting sleep of non-existence holds no fears – for we are here merely to procreate the species – why I do not know – and I have played my part. :o]

Anna :o]

Sabio Lantz said...

Thanks for the reply hyperCRYPTICal Anna,

As you point out, we essential agree. But maybe this illustrates where we differ a little:

Imagine I could choose one of the following afterlife states for my deceased parents:

(a) just dead, like all other animals. No more suffering, no consciousness. just simple gone. Sort of like you were before you were born. [Your and my version]

(b) eternal life with Yahweh - the god of the Old Testament. Forever singing his praises in a new body. [Christian Version]

(c) Floating around with loved ones being happy for eternity. [New Age version 1]

(d) Reincarnated to someother life form or human again [much of Hinduism and Buddhism]

hyperCRYPTICal said...

An interesting question Sabio as I don’t know your parents or if they follow an orthodox religion – say they do/did.

Would you choose (a) as it is your belief and in doing so would this be a selfish choice as your choice would not reflect their beliefs in, a need of an afterlife of b, c or d?
If they hold/held no beliefs (a) would be a wise choice Sabio. :o]

Anna :o]

Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Anna,

That is a good point.
But on the other hand, eternity is a long time. So wanting to let someone make a bad choice which has bad consequences for eternity would be tough.

I face this with my patients in a milder form.
I am there to offer them whatever they want -- but I am more vocal on issues that I think they don't understand will have consequences they would not want.

Boredom for eternity or living with an egotistical god singing his praises may not be as desirable as they'd been taught. :-)

Anonymous said...

Anna, it is hard for me to know
in my spirit what touched my heart more your poem or the words you
shared about your family.

A beautiful poem and thank youfor the gift of your thoughts.

Susan said...

Beautiful Love. I never think of heaven until these kind of moments, though i spend time in God daily. Your Love here is real.