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Poem: “A Man Wakes Up”

Advent is always a haunting time for me. The waiting and longing symbolized by the season names an anxiety and loneliness as I reflect on the losses of loved ones. This melancholy journey reminds me of my finitude and calls to greater appreciation for my humanity.

Advent also bids me to reflect on the meaning and purpose that animate my life. Almost two years ago I wrote this (lengthy) poem. I share it in the hopes that Advent might remind us that a transcendant God became human and calls us to do the same.


A man wakes up,
reflects on the dreams he experienced,
ponders their meaning,
and climbs out of bed.

A man wakes up with repressed expectation,
disguised as realism,
and held back by pessimism,
of the dreams that don’t come true.

A man wakes up,
and begrudgingly faces the day,
often wondering why he woke up.
Is joy and wonder lost?

A man wakes up and looks for patterns, rhythms, and meanings…
only to be disappointed,
by the randomness and tragedy of life.
A man wakes up.

A man goes to bed reflecting on the day,
of the ups and downs…of the joys and frustrations.
That man “got through” the day,
And feels like he barely survived.

A man goes to bed slightly frightened,
by the routine of the next day,
of the repetition of life,
of another day to get through.

A man goes to bed with a tight mind and a heavy heart.
That man is confused and in pain.
The chill of winter has robbed him of the hope and joy of Spring.
A man goes to bed.

A man meets a woman and wonders, “Can I provide?”
He has children and fears the innocence in their eyes.
Can he fully love them? Can he love them completely?
Can he keep them safe and protect them…often from the pain that resides in the dark recesses of his heart?

Provision is disrupted…
The children experience crisis…
The man harbors dark feelings,
of failure and inadequacy in his heart.

“Were we made to be mere melancholy beings,” the man asks.
Is there no larger melody to life,
that brings the bass and soprano,
into perfect tune?

Times passes and the nagging insecurities,
become like a blanket slightly too small.
Comfort from the lies,
But contortion to cover up.
The man wants to stretch,
but the world is so damn cold.

A man wakes up,
in the twilight of life.
Kids grown…grandkids abound.
The man still feels the nagging of distress.

-Lips never kissed.
-Trails not hiked.
-Trips not taken.
-Dreams forgotten.

Has he lived the life he wanted?
Has he lived?

A man wakes up,
with a tightness in his back.
He reflects on a dream of running in a field.
He longs for wide open spaces.

The man shuffles to his favorite chair.
A comfortable raft in a sea of pain.
He hears a knock at his door.
Kids…grandkids…a new baby.
A great grandchild.
The man feels old.

The man nervously takes the baby in his arms.
He’s always felt nervous holding babies.
The baby coos and has blues eyes,
that pierce the man’s heart.
They stare at one another,
and the man breaks down.

The relatives stare…

confused by the sight.

Tears stream down his cheeks,
as he kisses the newborn child.
The whiskers of his unshaven cheeks rubbing,
against the soft, warm forehead of the newly born baby.

Amidst family and new life,
the man finds purpose and meaning.
The melody he has sought his entire life,
is played out around him.
The newest note is in his arms.
In his quest to “make” a life,
he’s missed the life he’s made.

A man wakes up…a man feels whole.

A man goes to bed thinking,
of the day he just lived.
He laughs as he lays his head on the pillow.
In the darkness of the room,
he feels a remarkable lightness in his spirit.
“Life is meant to be lived,”
he declares in a whisper.

With gratitude and awe,
he feels a thaw to his cold heart.
His laughter gives way to tears of joy,
that run the contours of his face,
to be absorbed by the cool pillowcase.

A man wakes up…as he drifts off to sleep.

A man has finally become…human.

-“A Man Wakes Up”

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