Every truth

How much movement is there
in the stillness of a heron?
How much movement in the water below?
Heron and fish—stillness and movement,
how these lovers lead the other
in their perfect little dance
of need and surrender.

Listen, this is true:
I have sat praying,
knowing that anything I desired
could be mine,
if only I would deign not to wish it;
every truth is a paradox,
but no truth is a lie.

I drive an hour each day to and from work, with much of the journey being through rural Connecticut. There is one small lake that I pass that, for an entire season, an egret was using for its nesting and feeding. Every day I would look to catch a glimpse of it fishing and often reflected on its sense of patience and purpose. And while that scene and my meditations are the obvious source for the first part of the poem, the source for the second part is more difficult to explain.

Prayer is transformative, a creative act by and for the person saying the prayer. It is not that it is wrong to say a prayer asking for a specific outcome; it is wrong to say a prayer that is contingent on a specific outcome. God tests mankind, not the other way around. The more of the sense of control over our lives that we give up, the more we are actually in control of what matters in our lives.

And while that is a paradox, it is, I think, no lie.

Thank you so much for reading Every truth. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.


Filed under Poetry

8 responses to “Every truth

  1. Barbara C Minor

    Wow! So deep I had to read one word at a time…thinking each one over..almost meditating and trying to visualize what you saw at the lake. This poem brought me to a peaceful dimension somewhere.

  2. therealvixen

    His Grace is sufficient for me.

  3. I loved both the poem and your notes, John. Such insight and you put it so succintly into words. I aree with you wholeheartedly, but could never express it as well as you have done. Thank you so very much.

  4. “anything I desired could be mine/ if only I would deign not to wish it” These lines really spoke to me, as it seems like what I am wishing for is getting farther away


    • Elizabeth,

      That may be *the* only, even just a teeny tiny little bit, negative thing I have ever heard you say! I’m heartbroken. But thank you for the compliment, although I hope you resolve, and soon, your feelings around what you want.

      • I suppose I try not to be negative in my internet life! You’re welcome 🙂 I hope so too. The more I wish the worse it might get.