Thursday, January 23, 2014

Journey's End

image borrowed from bing

Journey’s End

“People see God every day, they just
don’t recognize him.”--Pearl Bailey.

As a kid, probably the first time
I ever heard of the word God,
I thought his last name was

Then I heard other children
talking about “loving Jesus”,
parroting the platitudes
their parents conditioned them with.

My own parents were not religious,
we never attended church
as a family--so I asked permission 
to attend religious services
with some of my friends & their families--
eager to find out who this God was,
or might be.

Off I went, my expectant arms around
the shoulders of my pals, & visited
churches, chapels, cathedrals,
temples, synagogues, & mosques,

sat in every kind of sanctuary,
sang songs from aged hymnals;
heard sermons from preachers,
priests, ministers, sanseis, teachers,
rabbis, elders, & Islamic holy men;

added my pocket change as contribution
every time one of those baskets, trays,
tambourines, hub caps, hats, or gunnysacks
was passed around--

filling their coffers with tax-free revenue,
praise Jesus;
blessed holy income,
praise Allah;
money from the multitudes,
praise Buddah;
cents from sinners,
praise Mohammad;
dollars from dopes,
praise Oral Roberts.

I spent much of my childhood
trying so very hard to understand
the exact nature of faith, worship, & prayer
within all those dimly-lit
cavernous yet claustrophobic,
sanctified, certified, thrice-blessed, holy
wooden--adobe mud--brick--cement--steel--
palaces of the many prophets,
somehow all serving & honoring
the same God;

finally emerging more confused
than enlightened, not finding
all that strictness, those mandates,
that forced fellowship within each faith
appealing--finding only
hypocrisy, dishonesty, arrogance, & cruelty
beneath the robes, 
behind the pulpits--
never embracing the succor,
salvation, answers, or comfort
I sought;

becoming an outrider,
a proud pariah, seeing
as much of God
in industrial waste,
in dumpsters,
in killing fields,
& on city buses
as I ever found
in those gilded privileged Clubhouses
labeled as acceptable venues
for spirituality. 

It took several dark decades
for me to finally manage 
the anger I felt,
the betrayal I sensed,
the distortions I witnessed--
until that beauteous summer’s day
at sunset when I stared at my own
reflection in the calm surface
of an alpine lake, and finally found
the truth, the answer, shining
out of my own eyes, 

& that quiet smile
that formed on my astonished lips
has remained accessible
ever since. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Mary said...

What a fascinating faith journey you took, Glenn. You certainly are a seeker. It sounds like you found your answers outside of organized religion, and I wonder now (as I write) whether that will be your final answer or if that will eventually lead you to yet another level of truth.

Claudia said...

smiles... he can be found everywhere indeed...made me think of the verse when jesus said that he was in prison and they didn't visit him and he was hungry and they didn't feed him and they were like "What?" ha... finally they got it me thinks...smiles

Björn said...

I think faith has to be found where within...if the robed men can help.. (never worked with me).. of you find faith and the will to do good in other ways... lovely poem

Marina Sofia said...

Love the account of your spiritual journey - nice use of listing, by the way!

Anonymous said...

Glenn, nice to write a biography for a story. I can relate to much of it. >KB

Lupe Eyde-Tucker said...

I enjoyed reading the story of your journey to finding Faith, Glenn. But mostly, I liked the poetic aspect of it, and the way it all tied together at the end.

Gabriella said...

I am amazed that as a child you undertook this faith journey trying to understand who God was and others believed. Your poem show it beautifully. I am glad you eventually found an answer you are comfortable with.

HA said...

The journey of faith... so well narrated. And what an amazing experience. The God has many manifestations: it depends on us what we choose to believe and what we come to accept.

Born into a religion, I was blinded by the definition of faith taught to me. I came to discard it all and I am still seeking an answer. I discovered a trace of it in the feel of the morning air when you are looking at the rising sun. I need to explore more.

Grace said...

I too love the journey of faith Glenn ~ We have to try and discover what God means to us personally and in our life, not based on someone else words ~

vivinfrance said...

I think your experience, recounted in this comprehensive story poem, reflects that of many of us.

alan1704 said...

The journey of the heart so vivid and so powerful. I like how the torment come through in the flow of words. Great writing.

Todd Alan Kraft said...

Quite a travel of discovery, anger, resentment, and release. I like your way with words.

Brian Miller said...

our stories are not much different when it comes to our spiritual development...i spent years running from god only to find myself eventually in ministry which threatened my spirituality as much as the dark ways....i found more of god in the slums far from those that considered themselves religeous....

hyperCRYPTICal said...

A wonderful story Glenn - one which I can relate to.
I have never found 'God' in a place of worship - despite a religious upbringing.
I am aware of good in myself - but I have also glimpsed at my potential of evil. I am God and the Devil - as are we all.
Kind regards.
Anna :o]

Ginny Brannan said...

Loved your first stanza, reminded me of my Italian grandfather. He spoke very little english, but the cursing came out crystal clear!! You have certainly captured all of the ambivalence and mixed messages of structured religion. I was baptized and raised Catholic but never quite got the confession thing, married a Lutheran, have gone to Methodist and Protestant churches. I have a born-again brother-in-law who will quote the bible tooth and nail, (according to him we are all most certainly going to hell if we don't read the bible each day and get re-baptized, full submersion of course) My own feeling is that the most important thing is to be kind to others and try to live a good life. Thanks for sharing this story of your search and what you finally found.

Ronald Shields said...

Yeah, I thought the same thing about the last name. This story about your journey really touches a nerve...having gone through a similar journey I can really appreciate your story and its satisfying ending.

Liesl Garner said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. I could relate to it, even though I was raised in the church. I have done a lot of searching for what I felt should have been there, and wasn't...

I shared a quote by the Dali Lama once, that I'd found online, that said, "Just because someone is on a different path doesn't mean they are lost," only to have someone Private Message me that I was wrong, and tell me which diety I needed in my life to be right. Sigh.

Kate Mia said...

That seems a common experience..for the deeper thinkers of the herd...

And a potentially tough place to come to ..but for one.. when the answers are only one's own answers...

But one's own answer does seem more refreshing to me..than all the dam question..

Yes..i believe nature is the only place for see the reality of all the power that is....

vivchook said...

A really great story of your search, Glenn. And yes, organised religion has that element of organised crime, doesn't it? I agree with your discovery, too, that faith is within, and personal. So well told. And shared. Thank you.