ON THE SHORE
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. John 21:12
Galilee is in one of her moods.
The stubborn sea has refused our nets for hours, all night even,
the slight wind whispering a sharp ache into my ears,
the night air annoying my muscles into unyielding aggravation.
Fish bowels from more successful outings rot in quiet corners,
the soft staleness contrasting with the slick slime on the wooden sides.
This tiresome enterprise hurts my forearms and back.
As the sun rises, it brings with it that fusty morning-breath feeling,
a natural all-over reminder that a cycle has passed and I have ignored it.
One hundred yards away, a man watches my weakness from the shore.
He speaks: “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?”
The answer is decidedly no.
This time: Abracadabra. “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat.”
And we cannot lift the net. It is Him.
Like a moment when your own falling forward wakes you up suddenly,
my heart rate rockets. Peter takes no time to consider wave-walking, only
jumps into the water like a lover in a hurry.
I hold the net, now wide-awake. My heart burgeons; I feel my pulse in my arms,
my chest, my throat. I wish my devotion was now a soaked outer garment,
but at the same time, my head has been snapped into alertness
too quickly, and I feel mute even while I yell to hold the net.
Stepping to the shore is like crossing a thick line into another land
where silence is king and stillness is queen. Only God is over them both,
so He speaks: “Come and have breakfast.”
A charcoal fire cooks God’s catch, and we add some of ours to the fire.
My hands shake, not only with cold. I look at the dead eyes of the fish
as they cook. Their open eyes and open mouths make me their
breathing brother. My mind spells peculiar out slowly:
To sit across a man who is more than a man, once dead but now
serving breakfast is too much. All things collide:
prophecy, the Word become flesh, promises and wine, blessed are the poor in spirit, prayer and peace and psalms and palms, overturned tables and the look on His face, blessing the children, rebuking the demons, His offer of rest, all the metaphors, the stories, the quiet explanations away from the crowds, Truth for the first time, freedom, excitement, fervor, reality, wisdom, honor, purity, healing mud mixed by the King, that devastating dinner in the upper room, the washbin, the water, the way that He stooped, Gethsemane where I slept while He suffered, the crowds, the chants, Barabas unchained, the cheers, the jeers, the scorn, the blood,
the blood, the blood, the blood, the blood,
the walk, the tree, splintered wood on Calvary, the words, the orders, the dramatic curtain making a scene, the rushing terror, the torture, pain, emptiness, loss, the women, the tomb, the rock, the angels, the appearing, victory
for my sake.
He offers me bread in the quiet on the shore.
Lord, forgive me! my heart pleads across the coals.
His wild eye meets mine: That was the whole point.
Absolutely stunning, Jackie Lea. 🙂 Thank you so much! I fell in love with the last stanza; it’s basically how I’ve been feeling and thinking this whole Easter season.
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I was re-reading some of your lovely poetry tonight and I just remembered how much I really, really love this poem.
Just… holy shit, this is good. I’m speechless every time.
You’re so kind, my friend.