Part I - Ice
I heard the voice,
so I took my Isaac to the appointed place
on that wild, incomprehensible mountain.
I took the ax I used to split the wood;
thought I might need it.
Familiar fears of future gave way
to a dark, ice-cold present
as I piled stone upon numb stone;
a bewildering fog fell.
Then I heard a sound -
not the voice of God,
but the rush of rain
trickling down the needles of the trees
and suffocating everything.
Ambushed by a frozen wind,
I felt myself stiffen.
He did come down with me that day,
but the concrete mist hid him from sight.
As I stared,
crystals crawled across the window.
I sensed an empty space within the pain -
I blindly drew him in
and closed the door.
Part II - Fire
Now again the voice
calls me up the pathway.
A white, blinding sun shuts my eyes, but moves my feet -
the barren summit pulls inexorably.
As I hike the stony trail,
I see no cloud, no shadow, no refuge;
even the flowers radiate a vivid heat.
At last I spy the old altar -
the rocks glitter with sweat.
My muscles scream as I continue climbing.
As the dreams that drew me here rise like sparks,
I stand scorched in their midst -
heart seared by loss, but not consumed.
Tears evaporate in the flames,
in the crackle and hiss of the wooden likeness
as it stokes the furnace of this cross.
Gathering the ashes hardly seems worth it,
but hands still reach forward, and come back black.
I cough and turn,
and as the earth bears my heavy steps toward home,
a voice follows me down the hill.
Part III - Earth
As we finished dinner,
Father came in to gather us for the service.
I bowed my head and slowly rose -
my cane was fortunately close at hand.
Faithful companions of these many years
steadied my tottering steps on the steep trail.
Having lost my sight long since,
I smiled in the feeling of every foothold,
inhaling the scent of moss and plant,
receiving the greeting of rock and tree.
There we buried him at last -
the old skeleton boy now mere blackened bones.
A gentle sprinkling of flowers and water sealed the release.
Our intertwined spirits wander earth no more.
The path keeps rising, and I rise with it.
I turn once more,
surprised to hear that hillside still calling.
I believe I always will.
Stay in touch
The Grotto, 8840 NE Skidmore St., Portland, OR
Kathleen sings with the Grotto Carolers Choir in the chapel at 6pm for the opening concert of the festival. Fun, music, food, puppet show, petting zoo, and lots and lots of beautiful LIGHTS! Visit http://www.thegrotto.org/christmas for more information.