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 Page: Profile: Poetry   Total Views: 13,702,139  

Poem Specs

VxPoem ID: 32758


Posted: April 26th. 2008 7:30:46 AM

Views: 1364

The Stranger, and Other Notes to God

by B. T. Newberg

Age Group: Adult

You, strange being!—that takes me against my will and fills me with love:
Begin your book. Teach me the hymns you would have me sing. Inspire me with the poems I should write. Tell me the prayers. Show me the devotions. If you would have me tell stories, spin them through me.
What—is there no answer? You call me to you as a master calls his dog. As a dog to his master, I come. But you give me nothing to do!
Would you only have me in your presence?


When I am alone, you come to me from behind.
I desire to see your face, stranger. Will you be blue as Shiva? Pierced as Jesus? Green as Mother Earth? A crowd swells with each possibility.
But you slip into the crowd, and I lose you.
Are you among them, stranger? Are you one of them, all, or none?


O Stranger, in this heart there is a “Thou” for you, but it cannot pass my lips.
It shall be only “you, ” and not “Thou, ” whom I curse.
I am not a humble man. I speak of you as though I knew you. I criticize you, I judge you, I ridicule you. But what would happen if I fell on my knees and washed your feet?
I quiver, quiver at the thought.


Yesterday you were the stranger, but today you are my Lord. Tomorrow, will you be my Goddess? Why are you ever shifting like the desert sands? What was yesterday a clear trail of footprints is today but a dune. You throw your tracker into confusion. Your follower is lost.
I will wait for you here, my Lord.


If you have ever shown me your face, stranger, then I have loathed it. For there is nothing in this world of which I do not grow weary.
Come in to rest, stranger, for you too are weary.


Oh Lord, every day I find reasons to smile at this world. But when I wake in the morning, I feel as though I have been crying all night.
Why, Lord, do you reserve the depths of my heart for sadness?


O Stranger, I open my door and wait for your arrival.
With prayers, I open my door.
With music, I open my door.
With chanting, I open my door.
With meditations, I open my door.
With reading, I open my door.
With rites, I open my door.
With long contemplation, I open my door.
With laughter, I open my door.
With determination, I open my door.
With sorrow, I open my door.
But I can only open my door, stranger. I cannot make you come. The hour grows dark, and I grow weary.
But even as I gaze out of my lonely door, you have crept in through the window.


Come in, stranger. Have a glass of wine and tell me what you think:
Is it better to feel extreme joy but also extreme pain, or is it better to remain temperate in emotion, to avoid suffering?
When I am calm and satisfied I say temperance is better.
But in the throes of anguish I am shown that even torment is divine.


O Lord, just when I think I cannot go on, you send a friend.


O Stranger, in this place, the house of my parents, I feel stupid even to think of you. My parents do not see into my heart, yet I feel their eyes inside me. Of all my spiritual yearnings I feel ashamed, like a child too old for imaginary friends.


Nothing cuts me here. I feel neither joy nor pain. Even pleasure is dulled. I feel suspended in sap.


Stranger, you are distant from me, and I feel myself changing. This place of my parents re-molds me, turns me into one of its own. When have I last lit my candles? When have I last flown with the spirits?
The pendant I wear on my ankle, concealed beneath a sock, that token which no one may ever see, that secret most intimate which is my sacred self, now grows strange even to me.

Author's Notes: c 2004

As a Naturalistic Pagan, I believe in evidence. There is no evidence that deities and magic are "real" in the most literal sense, but they may yet be moving and powerful. These poems are a tribute to the inspiration of Pagan ways.

For more information on naturalism, see

Author's Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
More Poems: B. T. Newberg has posted 73 additional poems- View them?
Author's Profile: To learn more about B. T. Newberg - Click HERE
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