God Fails To Show

To our usual class of those
Life deems abnormal
came a guest group
of younger wheelchair impairments-
head-bangers, constant rockers,
twisted frames and contorted faces.

We were supposed to be making ceramics,
dealing in clay,
making from the earth something beautiful,
but overnight the pipes had burst
and flooded the concrete floor.

Between the sogginess
and the double racket of clamour and confusion,
routines disrupted,
and the thin coating of powdered clay that we all took on,
it was at best, it must be confessed,
a challenging morning.

We put newspaper down to soak the spill,
and it soon became papier mache muck,
but not before one headline caught my eye.

It summed up the disappointment
of a Japanese religious cult
whose leader had the day before foretold
the end of the world
and whose devotees had been packed and ready to depart.

God Fails To Show

it said with both mock and sympathy.

As I raised my eyes
to the human flotsam and jetsam
around me in the clayey shallows
of the ceramics room,
it seemed a headline one might be tempted to endorse
in the face of so much
obvious distress and difference.

What parent would want to make one of these,
and having made how would one know what to think-
blight, gift, curse or sadness?

God Fails To Show

said the newsprint,
and I could see the lure of it.
But somewhere deeper in the sea of things
there was a voice that chanted into the pained mystery:
Jesus is these,
Jesus is here,
Jesus is one.