No Atheists in a Foxhole

(Upon the arising of yet another untenable situation,
we find ourselves. . .)

Enslaved, trapped in a cauldron of boiling reactions—
both of us thrown hither and yon, welts rising
from the impact with immovable walls, insides
squeezed by the relentless pressure of these forces.
Coping mechanisms in place, sure,
but that doesn’t release us
from the bondage that ties us down,
ropes burning into all-too-tender skin—
deadly sins not just words on paper anymore. . .

In a moment of respite, we see that
toughening up is a welcome by-product
of these internal battles, but still,
not the keystone that could hold
our flesh and spirit building aloft.

But as soon as we enter the Venetian cathedral,
we are stunned, transported, and gradually see
that it points to its own way out of our common
dilemma—the vaulted ceilings, angels flying
in mid-air, halos sending beams of pure light
down on us, pulling us up—up out of our
bondage, up into more rarefied air, allowing us
to see the illusory nature of the chains
that have long held us in seeming slavery,
allowing us to stand tall, stand in awe
of the nobility our kind can possess.

Even down here on the ground, we can
see that a context for surety exists,
something that actually is our own,
that will be our staff, hold us up,
so we can face what we have long avoided—
our punishment? our liberation? ourselves?

Surrounded by an aura of stillness, we leave
the sanctuary feeling cleansed, sobered, resolute;
perhaps chastened, too,
but now intimate with forces equal to the task
of being our own cornerstone,
from which our own cathedral can be built.

Like a sculpture coming to life, chipping away
at the rock surrounding who we really are,
leaving us pointing both upward and
towards our own kingdom of heaven within.

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