Opposite Galilee

Our Sunday hope is you never slunk back like a
dog to its vomit, no turning back, no turning back.
But you did, didn’t you, after your miracle aged?
You slipped away as the city snored
to the garden of tombs you could navigate blindfolded.
Maybe you even stripped down 
naked as you once ruled in your madness just so your
skin could lick the stones and grass, this
homecoming all your sleeping family and friends
clothed and right minded would never understand.
Legion went and left quite the hole.
Oh, by all means good riddance. But what witnesses
failed to grasp was your collateral loss – those who would listen.
You went back because you needed the dead.
There were times, weren’t there, when you sprinted
for the edge where the swine rushed over? 
But you always stopped short, those stiff voices pleading
Turn back. Turn back.

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  1. Susan Irene Fox on April 16, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Wow. I’m astounded at this knowing, John.

  2. Darcy Hansen on April 17, 2016 at 1:13 am


    Not sure if you will receive this or not. This poem has been haunting me all day. I’ve read it many times; my husband and I have discussed it.

    I think in a way it sums up one of my worst fears about this counseling/Mending The Soul gig I am in. Counseling to help rise up the demons of long ago, those voices that still haunt me throughout the days. Counseling which encourages me to to speak the words that have not been spoken and pray for healing that has yet to occur, despite claiming the Scriptures and believing with big faith that it will happen. What if when their gone, those demons, or when I’m “healthy,” I’m still the same me, still going back “to the dead”? What if the hole that is left is never filled? What then? Will I keep running to the edge in search for that which was driven out? Will I miss those voices? O, the wrestling of the soul that is happening here. Maybe I’m reading it all wrong? I don’t know.

    Thank you for writing these powerful, thought provoking, emotion evoking words. Your writing continues to be a gift for my heart.


    Darcy Hansen


    • thebeautifuldue on April 17, 2016 at 1:45 am

      Hi, Darcy. Thank you so much for writing. Your words feel weighty to me, I’m sure they do to you. I often wonder about the flesh and blood in the pages of scripture, especially those who received a healing touch, and what wholeness meant for them, and what it means for us. I don’t think you’re reading it wrong at all, Darcy, and I believe you are incredibly brave for running after healing/health. Your honesty about your fears means you’re facing it all with open eyes. Keep at it, please!
      ~ John

      • Darcy on April 17, 2016 at 2:02 am

        The flesh and blood in the word, maybe that’s Jesus? But yes, how does it all play out for those healed? I was discussing this with a friend yesterday. We only see a snippet of the miracle. What of the rest of their life? So good to ponder. But that fear…it’s a doozie to wrestle with, and for how long? Thank you for the encouragement. And I didn’t know what I’d written would be on your blog, just thought it hit your email box, but there it is. Baby steps of confession are good for the soul:)

  3. Jacky on April 18, 2016 at 2:53 am

    Whoa, John. Wondering from where these words came out of you. I stepped back after I read it the first time, then came back to reread it a few more times, one time with my husband last night AFTER we read Ezekiel 2, the chapter we just happen to land on for our daily reading. Then in church this morning, our pastor preached on Judges 6:1-10. We’ve been working a while through Judges each Sunday, with plenty of reminders that though we’d prefer to think it’s all about “those long-ago, feckless, backsliding Israelites”, the message is as real and relevant to us now as then. Yessiree, I love my idols and riding my merry-go-round of denial. W. H. Auden says it to me as well, differently, “We’d rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die.” Yet the “stiff voices” continue speaking…thankfully. And I continue crying out for ears to hear and a heart to turn…thankfully. And He continues laying his slow hand of Grace on me…thankfully. Keep slicing through me, John. It’s painful but I so need it.

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