Posted by: Mark Nielsen | March 9, 2011

Possibly Inevitable ( original poem for Ash Wednesday )

Jordan river 2

Jordan River, in a place where crossing is treacherous.

Possibly Inevitable

( By M..S. Nielsen, M.D  [Master of Disaster].          3/4-8/11  ,

composed midway through a viewing of the documentary film “Rumi: Turning Ecstatic” )


Is it possible

That victory would come through surrender,

Transformation through total annihilation,

A burning inferno

Fueled by both the true and false

So that afterward

only pure truth survives?

Yes, it is even inevitable.


Is it possible

that I have to let go

of “my” Jesus :

A white European with a British accent,

An American Beatnik Jesus

(painted on black velvet),

A radical first century Jew,

A Middle Eastern man

A middle man

A man

A hu-man?

Must I let go of all these

To meet the real Jesus–

The Spirit,

The Son of Man,

The aching heart that beats

At the center of Man,

And all else in this world

According to a plan?

Yes, it is possible —

even inevitable.


Will He then present me

To our Beloved,

Where I will finally feel

God’s perfect love?

Yes, it is more than possible.


For love is a river

That flows through the land,

Through the body of God.

It follows nature’s perfect, unpredictable course.

It is the life-giving water

Flowing from the pierced side of Christ,

The water with which all other rivers flow.

Yes, our meetings at the River Jordan,

Where I search for the courage to cross over,

And at Golgotha,

Where He carries me across,

Are also inevitable.

“Jump in,” He says,

“The water is fine.”


And I must jump in,

Even though I am

Unsure if I can swim.

For a hu-man has hubris.

We are too proud.

We do not trust that river’s flow.

We want to set our own course.

We want, even need, our God

To look at least a little like us–:

To love as we love

(But hate as we hate),

To walk as we walk

Not crawl like a worm

Or a humble caterpillar.


No, we would skip

the burning, hidden,

inglamorous metamorphosis of a butterfly entirely.

We cannot stand the waiting.

We jump-cut quickly

through years, even decades,

in the story of our lives,

skipping over those we deem

non-essential people and tasks,

all to the tune of a perky top forty hit

or a mystical sitar song.

We speed through a romanticized movie montage–

Straight past the painful death,

the stripping away,

the return to the silent womb :

the dark place from which

being “born again”

could actually mean something.

No. It is too hard

to start the story over.


But is it my choice,

my story to live and to tell,

or not?

Is it possible

That I am only the teller who was told,

The seeker who first was sought,

the hunted and not the hunter?

Perhaps I am hunted to fulfill

His hunger for the harvest,

For the return home

Of the life and love He first gave

As the first and only giver,

And the most jealous of all lovers?

Is His love meant only to grow me–

strong and savory, plump and purposeful,

Like a Christmas turkey

or a Passover lamb–

So that He may joyfully consume me again?

Yes, it is possible.


But is it inevitable?

Indeed, God is the hunter, the spider,

And yet we are both wounded

In the struggle.

He gave himself up to me. For me.

Now if only I would step willingly

into His web,

Agreeing –against all logic and reason–

to be drawn toward the web”s amazing, tantalizing, terrifying center,

The altar for my ritual slaughter,

the silent surrender

at my own center

as well as God’s.


This, at least, is not inevitable at all.

It is the difficult choice

Made by only the strongest

And weakest.


Yes, my center awaits my return,

Which happens only if I would agree

to become small enough

to enter the flow of  the bloodstream —

His blood, my blood,

which flows toward the steady,

pumping, sacred heart

of the risen Son of Man,

only to be enriched, revived,

and then flow out again,

back to God.


The journey downstream,

toward the heart of God,

toward death and back to new life,

will be forever possible,

But never inevitable

(Until I agree to drown in the blood

Again and again and again).

— —

Dedicated to Mevlana Jellaludin Rumi (1207-1273 AD)



  1. […] stronger in Lent than at any other hour. […]

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