Sharing John’s Grief and Doubt

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Sharing John’s Grief and Doubt
Advent 3; Matthew 11:2-11
I grieve when I read of John
imprisoned and in doubt.
John as Baptist prepared the way
for one more powerful than himself,
one who would take an axe to the fruitless,
thresh the grain and burn the chaff
with unquenchable fire.

Who is John, now unsure of his Messiah?
“Are you the one?” he asks,
robbed of his own fire and purpose.
The death he foresees
seems pointless and unseemly.
Would the evidence of healings
and good news to the poor,
or Jesus’ offering of muted praise
have consoled John’s last days?

No prisoner am I
but having just turned 70
I feel a closing in of walls,
and the confronting absurdity
of death in the wings.

I am subject to minor fates:
on Sunday my car broke down
in a country town, on the way 
to a church service,
leaving a gathered people without a priest,
and me as priest without an altar.
I had looked forward
to speaking of peace, sharing at table,
watching a dark child
lighting the Advent candles.

It’s not that I doubt
the healings and good news,
or that Jesus is the one to come.
My doubts are about
being retired, turning 70,
car and my peace breaking down,
losing the purposeful journey.
I want to be consoled by the gospel,
but what I feel is grief.
	Barbara Messner 7/12/2022

2 thoughts on “Sharing John’s Grief and Doubt

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