Altar Call by Lily George ’18

maasai-mara-1Do you know what an altar call is?

Back then, I’d pray to accept Jesus

into my heart every time, because

what if the last time didn’t take?

Faith is operative in every human being

 

I want to have my mother’s faith. She’s one

of those weird mountain people, you see.

She holds snakes on Sundays

and once had to explain to an NPR reporter

the mechanics of why when one bites you

that means there’s something wrong.

 

Tell me, what does “do” mean?

If you try to bring something, you get nothing.

If you bring nothing, you get everything.

Behold, the calculus of the gospel!

Where am I supposed to go with that?

 

My plane crashed and I couldn’t see

out the window because of the flames My friend

the other pilot he was next to me and burning

The control panel was dripping here onto my thighs

I didn’t think I was going to die I thought

he was dead and that I was dead I prayed

the Lord’s Prayer and then the door opened

and I was pulled from the burning

You ever hear of something called a controlled burn? When the fire

rages and finds an already scorched earth, you are saved

 

I think: If I write Bible verses on index cards

and tape them to my bathroom mirror, things will change.

But nothing will change you, only the deposit

of an energy in your heart, the mechanism

from which all change stems

So what does God want? Does he want me to change

or does he just want me to want to change?

You are becoming wood and stone

 

I am so tired I can’t lay down. Why is God hiding?

the mechanism within each of us

called the human heart is from which

everything in life extends It locks

onto things you find beautiful and says Feed me.

 

Your roommate tells you she’s been raped.

You are simply bodily present.

 

You begin to meet little needs. You wonder

about the ways you could become glue. Listening

is something we can always do better on This is not

just about your individual heart This is about institutions

and oppression The nature of faith an empty hand

is such that it binds you to things.

 

You know how the Earth is spinning all the time?

I don’t understand the calculus of it, I don’t

even think of it, but that doesn’t stop it from happening.

I don’t have to spend each moment rejoicing

that physics is the way it is.

 

You don’t believe right Why do you worry

about believing right? Even faith is gift.

Even my repentance needs repenting of.

You’re an unproductive vine, but faith

is the vehicle of salvation, not the reason for

It is what our hearts are reaching towards

 

Lily George is a sophomore concentrating in computer science and literary arts.

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