18 January 2010

personal penitence

This poem/prayer has grown out of a personal confession that has been evolving over the last several days. My heart has been heavy with many cares and frustrations which seemed to have clogged the communication lines between earth and Heaven, at least for me. For some time, it's been difficult for me to pray at all. And now in the wake of what has transpired in Haiti (in which unanticipated demands were placed on all our hearts), it seems fitting to share it now.

The form is loosely based on one of the forms of the Penitential Rite, which takes place at the beginning of the Catholic Mass. I'm becoming increasingly thankful for the liturgy, which gives me fitting words when I have none of my own.


I am lean on faith
and heavy with excuse.

Lord, have mercy.

I feel the pull and the tug
of gravity
and of anxiety.

Christ, have mercy.

My belly and my heart
are filled with sighs,
the exhalations of unmet hopes
and of many disappointments.

Lord, have mercy.

I have only enough care
to know I don't care enough.

Christ, have mercy.

My heels are dry and cracked,
my fingers bleeding.

Lord, have mercy.

Pierce my heart
with the nails of the cross,
with the thorns of your crown.

Christ, have mercy.

Let the hot blood course over
these frozen stones
and render them supple flesh.

Lord, have mercy.

Please hear my refrain,
carried on the breaths of the saints
and on angel wings.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

photo by kirsten.michelle
copyright 2009


  1. Beautiful . . . the poem, but also the soul that wrote it. Be well, friend.

  2. Yes, Kristen.

    This is beautiful. How wondrous that our Lord treats His children with such mercy and tenderness, that He bears our burdens if only we speak His holy name. He hears us if only we ask, and even the simplest, most childlike cry will do, but your prayer-poem is rich in complexity. It reminds me of the Psalms, some of which both bewilder and comfort me.

  3. I'm here from High Calling Blogs. I'm so glad I found you! What you've written here is so simple and beautiful. It's given me some good stuff to reflect on tonight. Thank you!

  4. Oh I needed this today, Kirsten. Thank you.

  5. Such a beautiful prayer, my friend. I love your heart that is continually searching for God and true communion with him. That you would even pray for his crown of thorns to pierce your heart so that it bleeds and cares more fiercely is a testament to the life that already courses through it. May he give you more of himself through this prayer.

    Love you.

  6. @Sarah
    Thank you, friend.

    It's so good not to be alone in thinking/feeling this way!!

    And what would we do, where would we be without His tremendous mercy? Bewildering and comforting is a great way to describe the psalms -- this is what this feels like: a psalm.

    @Cahleen Hudson
    Thank you for stopping by!! Poetry is a rare occurrence for me (something I hope to amend this year), so I'm glad for your comments!!

    And I needed to hear that, too. Feels less alone to know there are others who feel similarly.

    God grant that it may be so. Love and peace to you, dear friend.