Friday's Child

(In memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
martyred at Flossenbürg, April 9, 1945)

He told us we were free to choose
   But, children as we were, we thought—-
   “Paternal Love will only use
   Force in the last resort
   On those too bumptious to repent.”
   Accustomed to religious dread,
   It never crossed our minds He meant
   Exactly what He said.
   Perhaps He frowns, perhaps He grieves,
   But it seems idle to discuss
   If anger or compassion leaves
   The bigger bangs to us.
   What reverence is rightly paid
   To a Divinity so odd
   He lets the Adam whom He made
   Perform the Acts of God?
   It might be jolly if we felt
   Awe at this Universal Man
   (When kings were local, people knelt);
   Some try to, but who can?
   The self-observed observing Mind
   We meet when we observe at all
   Is not alariming or unkind
   But utterly banal.
   Though instruments at Its command
   Make wish and counterwish come true,
   It clearly cannot understand
   What It can clearly do.
   Since the analogies are rot
   Our senses based belief upon,
   We have no means of learning what
   Is really going on,
   And must put up with having learned
   All proofs or disproofs that we tender
   Of His existence are returned
   Unopened to the sender.
   Now, did He really break the seal
   And rise again? We dare not say;
   But conscious unbelievers feel
   Quite sure of Judgement Day.
   Meanwhile, a silence on the cross,
   As dead as we shall ever be,
   Speaks of some total gain or loss,
   And you and I are free
   To guess from the insulted face
   Just what Appearances He saves
   By suffering in a public place
   A death reserved for slaves.
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