The Presence

As teen he looked his pastor up
To get his view on faith-ish stuff
“Believe,” he said, “or go to hell –
If fake at least, then you’ll do well.”

“I don’t think so,” to self he said,
“I’ll not by that sad word be led –
I’d rather go to hell and be
Well-cooked with my integrity.”

I had the self-same chat as teen,
But quite a good response there’d been –
My pastor-dad heard out my doubt
Then thanked his God with grateful shout.

“This son of mine has burst his skin
Like growing snake – too tight for him –
No sadder words for parents are:
‘I fear from home to wander far’.”

He took his keys in hand that day
And asked me what I saw, to say.
“Six keys – one car, one house, I see”
“There’s nothing in my hand,” said he.

Then dumping keys, his hand now free,
He asked again, “What do you see?”
“I see no keys – hand empty is –
What is the point of this strange quiz?”

“Why, God and keys are just the same,
We have to call it, like this game –
If keys or God are there, they’re there,
Despite my claim to the contraire.

“But if they’re not, they’re not,” said he –
“That goes both for our God and key –
I can my life spend singing hymn
With prayer and preaching, serving Him –

“But if, in fact, God’s not out there
All of my words are so much air.
We just don’t know – odds even split
We bet our lives how we call it.

“All great religions, ‘Faiths’ are termed
Not ‘knowledges’, though some have squirmed
Around and tried to make it sound
As if we stood on solid ground.

“We don’t – it is the adult guess
So look around you then confess –
The challenge comes for each and all
To see, and then to live our call.

“An open mouth is given you
To close on food so you can chew.
Just like our mouths, close when you see –
But like our mouths – not permanently.

“I’m glad you’re grasping life, my son,
Engaging thought, desire to run
Into this life with zestful air.
Truth’s big and tough – you can’t impair.

“Oh, yes, and son, if truth you find
I hope you’ll share what’s on your mind
The truth, what ever that may turn to be
I long to know – reality.

When dad lay dying one spring night
He called me in and asked my sight
“All life I’ve heard of presence warm
Of Spirit, like in you, my son –

“In life it has not been a part
Though great a longing of my heart;
I fear that I may leave this place
And miss the best for human race.”

We prayed, with hand upon his head;
He slept, no word was later said.
He died, but brother then re-told
A story fine – like purest gold:

“I’ve never felt God’s presence, bro,
But in this time of death, e’en so,
I’ve seen his power, and that’s enough –
Confirms my intellectual stuff.”

How precious that – our journey fine:
His gift of freedom’s open mind;
His love of truth, integrity;
Which fed my curiosity.

When I your story heard that night,
Was so relieved you saw the light
That shone from truth, and chose that way,
Then lived your life just as you say.

Life is a gamble, risk’s built in
It’s God’s invention, not a sin.
The trouble is folks bet on fluff
Capitulate on bigger stuff.

My dad would bet on folks he’d seen
With quiet word, or insight keen.
I later heard he cash would give
His quiet gifts folks helped to live.

When asked, he laughed and said, “It’s odds –
It’s just my way of playing God –
He bets on long-shots we can’t see,
He takes a chance – just look at me.”

Now I two pictures view and see
The payoff of integrity
The first is burdened, next not sad,
And in between – your presence, lad.

Thank you.