“The Sorrows,” Albrecht Durer, c. 1497, WikiArt.

Trial of faith, of perseverance, journey
Through valley of death, not by choice,
But circumstance, temping descent with
Ease taken, no fear or concern, until
Realizing seductive slopes proved too
Arduous, for escaping climb. Rocky
Crags, thistle tangles, my testament
Of turmoil, sins accounted, suffering
Of body, soul. Thus, I, Sister Muriel,
Christ’s crucifix at my breast, rosary
Prayers whispered, proceeded into
Deepest shadows, path narrowing,
Hope lost to darkness and despair.

Distant howling, wind, wolves, or worse,
I pressed on, tempests beckoning, my
Lifetime recounted. Each step measured,
Vine entangled, valley enclosing, stagnant
Streams heart paralyzing, no returning,
Slime-slick bones of those going further,
Hollow eyes hollow peering soul-deep,
Stark teeth mind-speaking: “Rest here,
Sister. Cast off weight Christ’s cross,
Nails in wrists and feet.” Their taunting
Rebuffed, stream to pungent muck trans-
Formed. Transgressions! My feet of clay
Mislead me away from truth, light divine.

Prayers I had forgotten, not for moments,
But how to pray, words to say, Lord’s
Prayer lead-heavy on my tongue, “Daily
Bread” all I recalled. Was there “power
And glory?” Meaningless phrases recited
Under my breath, damp stone church.
O! My heavy heart! All things sacrificed
In service to Christ, festering in my soul,
Living waters turned clotted blood, I had
Been ridiculed, accused of following false
Prophets, dancing nude, wicked witchery,
Chanting evil spells, cloven-foot defiled,
Pagan delirium round night fires.

“Dreams on the Hill,” Vasily Polenov, circa 1900, WikiArt.

First upward steps from dark valley, into
Thorns I fell, deep cuts upon face and
Forehead, hands and arms, more I fought,
Tighter ensnaring grip, blood dripping,
Running into eyes and mouth. Alone in
Torment, words whispered, scripture
Recalled, comfort gained, all these Christ
Endured. “Why look for living amongst
Dead. Christ is not here. He is risen.”*
Yes, he had suffered shadow of death,
Anguish of crucifixion. Clouds of heaven
Separated, tears of joyous relief I wept
Whilst lifted to radiant heights.

*Luke 24:5-6 ESV

Thanks for reading this 1000th poem.

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