My Lantern’s Shield

I stand in a valley
Windy violence buffets
Me in deepest darkness.

In this pass I struggle,
Uncertainty roots my
Feet in stormy locus.

In my hand I hold tight
Bitterness, a lantern
Sheltering fragile flame.

Hope’s the flame I hold to.
Its dim light a ballast
Holding me through storm’s toss.

Lifting lantern higher
Seeking any signpost,
I still discern no guide.

Voices in wild wind’s gust
Scream at me to let go
Bitterness in my grip.

“Sin,” the voices in howling
Rage, condemn my heart for
Holding glassy anguish.

Painful past’s abrasive
Sand did melt in father’s
Kiln, abusive hatred.

From abusive heat the
Molten sand I gathered
Blowing, shaping, cutting.

This, the brittle glassy
Shield not bitterness but
Shaped experience is.

Oil of joy I gleaned from
Stories, others’ gladness
Fuels this flame of hoping.

Clasping lantern, bracing,
Head bowed, back bent, strain I
Just to cling to this spot.

Uncertainty holding
Me, as storm’s battering
Ravages wounded heart.

Stormy voices howling
Seek to trick me, urging
Lantern’s shield’s removal.

“Hope’s delayed by your own
Fault.  The storms won’t cease ’til
You release past’s shielding.”

Naked hope could never
Burn in stormy gales.  Thus
Stand I, keeping hope’s shield —
My experience of
Hope delayed — ’til storm winds
Cease and hope can light a
Blaze in hearth of home and
Lovingkindness warms me.

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