Washington Surrenders

If it be in rebellion or be a transgression against the Lord—save us not this day.

Merton smiles at his forefather underneath his strong twin brow.

Let me tell you about prayer—

it’s in the Bible, read it for yourself.

Let me tell you about prayer anyway:

it’s the drunken wails of Hannah in the temple,

the violent bargaining of desperate Abraham for Sodom.

It’s the anxious mental dithering of the unnamed woman with the flow of blood,

should I touch him?

can I touch him?

can I reach him?

will this work?

Prayer isn’t clean

and it isn’t King James verse.

For every Magnificat there’s Isaac with his pottage

for every Psalm 51 there’s Saul,

offering rash sacrifice without the anointed prophet.

it’s messy encounter of divine and human

and the humans never, ever get it right.

Jacob wrestles for his blessing,

until he succumbs.

Half of human prayer is a rebellion against the Lord,

and still he saves.

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