Renunciation and Adherence
The bishop made those being baptized
redo their renunciations
so that they rang out louder, stronger,
for he knew they would need it
when evil’s fear plays hide-and-seek
so well in our lives that no one can find it
so they just give up looking,
letting fear run the show.
One day during a youth lock-in
we were playing sardines
and Glen went to hide,
only we couldn’t find him,
as the game requires.
He’d slid through the secret door
of the pipe organ’s Victorian oak paneling
into the compartment
that concealed all the pipes,
the place where the organ repairman works.
There, in that secret chamber,
Glen couldn’t hear us calling and calling
and, when we gave up (figuring he’d show up soon)
and turned our attention to other games,
he fell asleep.
When he didn’t appear, we grew alarmed,
secretly panicked that he might have been abducted.
We ran around the church checking the locks
until at last the youngest kid there remembered
that she’d seen an opening into the bottom of the organ
through the door at the back of the sanctuary
when she came to church early one morning long ago
to help her father put on the coffee and turn up the thermostat.
Knowing that Glen was an organ student,
we tried this last spot before calling the police,
groping the oak panels for a latch
like actors in an old Hollywood movie
looking for a secret passageway behind a bookcase.
At last, we found it
and sprang the dazed and dusty Glen into manifestation at last.
We’d spent so much time searching for him
that we’d had little fun and too much fear.
Glen, too, was shaken and stuck fast
with the rest of the group all night
until his parents claimed him in the morning light.
Metaphors fail in seeking evil,
for it hugs shadows, seeping into those places
so hidden away as to be forgotten,
sometimes sleeping, awaking only to feed on fear.
It especially enjoys languor in adjustment spaces
where we try to fine-tune ourselves,
forgetting the grace of being found.
The latch that springs us, as the bishop knew,
is a resounding renunciation
of evil’s perennially hidden desire
to let fear play all our stops
until sin sends us rogue.
So in the midst of searching saints
he made us practice
faith’s obdurate daily office
of renouncing evil and resolutely adhering
to the One who finds, tunes, and holds us fast.
© June 2017, Tess Lockhart. All rights reserved.