Written by Rev. Dr. Paul Hooker
Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior,
acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church,
and through him believe in one God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
–the first question for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Well, do you?
It’s not a choosing, or a being chosen,
not a choice but the end of choices.
It’s the wild mounting desperation
of holding back your breath under water
until the will submits, is overcome
by the mindless lungs’ irrational demand.
Even if it drowns you like a rat.
Do you trust like that, Mr. H?
Who cares a fig for Lords and Heads?
This is existential, not ecclesial.
We’re talking oxygen, on those days
when a body’s desperate to breathe,
days when everything comes crashing,
when the sacred All-in-All amounts to nothing
and Christ’s Body yields its neck to the guillotine.
Do you trust when times are lean, Mr. H?
Three in one and one in three: an axiom
of theology. But the only Trinity
we trust is world and death and fire
(as often smothered as smoldering).
In the pitch-black cave-dark, we intuit
light. Reach out and touch the triune rock:
creation’s basement, our prison, and reprieve.
Is that what you believe, Mr. H?
These skittish truths we harness to our stars
come uneasily to words; they bolt
like rabbits down a hole or fly
like birds to branches just beyond our reach.
Best teach the tongue restraint and watch your feet
along this darkling path we’re following.
It’s easier to stumble than to rise.
Will that suffice to make you wise, Mr. H?