When Love Burns So Much It Hurts – a Poem

It’s not often that I get the chance to write “poetry.” It’s even less often than that, that I share what I write with others besides a spiritual director or close friend.

This Fall, I had a rather unfortunate encounter which led me to a beautiful period of prayer. As I sat with the Lord I wrote this “poem.” It’s mostly free verse with a little bit of rhyme. As I start my retreat today, I share it here in the hopes that it too might speak to you in a similar way that it spoke it’s truth, love, and beauty to me.

When love burns so much it hurts.

The fires of love they burn within this vessel made of clay.

Baked hard and fast with flames of pain, heartbreak, doubt, sadness, hurt, and loss.

This vessel though hard and strong, tried and true feels weak, chipped, lost, abandoned, alone, broken.

The achilles heel, the pressure point, the vessel could not hold.

Stretched, stressed, politicized, berated, worm down by violent use.

This vessel seemed a simple shell, a lonely shell, of what it once had been.

And yet within deep down inside the vessel knew it well.

The loving hands which had taken it, molding it from clay.

It felt the potters hands of love, the tender, gentle hands.

It felt the softness of the hands, the tender touch of care.

It remembered the beauty He saw in it, the joy He had taken in its creation.

It remembered the look of the Fathers eyes, the piercing beauty of His love.

It remembered too the callous hands, scarred, bruised, and torn.

For the Fathers hands were broken too with pain, heartbreak, hurt and loss.

The Fathers hands…the potters hands were the same hands of love.

And in the midst of sadness, hurt, pain, doubt, and loss…

The little vessel remembered the love with which he had been created…

The love for which he had been created…

The hope for which he had been fashioned.

For the vessel was not broken, nor was he even chipped. He had been cast in the fire of the Potters love, so that he might emerge new, beautiful, and strong.

The Father’s love was the fire in that kiln. It was the fire, tried, and true.

The fire which burned so much it hurt, for it was making all things new.

Behold the Lamb of God -A Reflection on the Incarnation 

 John 1:29-34. 

“John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. 

He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’

I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.”

John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him.

I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.’ 

Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

“Behold the Lamb of God.” This line is one of my favorite lines of the Mass. Look! Behold! This is Jesus, the Christ! Look, see Him here hidden under the Eucharistic Bread and Wine! “Blessed are those called to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb!” “Blessed, special, Holy, thankful, are those who are called to receive him in Holy Communion.”
Each Wednesday I go and bring our Lord in Holy Communion with me to visit our parishioners in the Hospital. Each Friday I go and visit the home bound, always bringing Jesus along. I use a pyx which was given to me by my sister-in-laws mother who has since died of cancer. Each time I use it I think of Ms. Janet and day a prayer for her and ask her to intercede for me and those who I will visit that day. I also ask for the intercession of the others I have brought communion to, using that pyx who are no longer of this world but have passed away. 

There is a tradition in the Church to pray the rosary as you transport the Eucharist, asking our Blessed Mother to help us as she was the first to bring Christ to the world. I too pray my rosary and ask for our Lady to intercede for me and those I visit. I never know who, or even what I might encounter when carrying our Lord, but I do know that I always am filled with his grace and his love. Without which, I couldn’t go and bring Him to others. 

The people I visit are always thankful to receive our Lord; some will comment on how it is so nice to have received a visit and to be able to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. I too, am always thankful after having an encounter with someone and our Eucharistic King. 

At the end of the communion rite as I hold the host above the pyx and say: “Behold the Lamb of God, Behold Him, who takes away the sins of the world, blessed are those who are called to the Supper of  the Lamb.” I am always filled with an immense sense of gratitude and wonder at Christ who comes to feed us and give us what we need under the form of this simple host I hold in my fingers. 

One of my visits to a person who died shortly thereafter involved me holding the host and saying those words like normal. As I did that, I noticed that the catheter bag was beginning to fill up. My first thought was one of shock and I began to worry about what I should do in this situation. I closed my eyes, took a breath, and began the prayer again: “Behold the Lamb of God.” As I said those words I opened my eyes and saw the person there behind the host. I saw Christ and looking through the host to the person I saw Christ in them. Christ, the all powerful God who became man including every aspect of our humanity. Including the need to relieve ourselves and the ability to do so even in a catheter bag, during a communion visit. Through this person, expressing a perfectly normal part of their humanity I recognized the Incarnation, I saw the humanity of the God-child born in Bethlehem. I saw Him who wanted to come to this person under the form of bread, the one who had died for them, and who now wished to bless them with his presence through this “Supper of the Lamb.”

Those words bear more of a special weight now. Each time I say them, I think of the person who is deceased and hopefully with God at his eternal Supper. I ask for her prayers. I find that the many different people who touch my life through my ministry at the Cathedral, or the parishes I have been at before leave my heart wounded with the love of Christ in unique ways. When I say different words, use different objects, see different pictures, my heart is filled with the love of Christ for his flock. I have a closeness with these people. I have a desire to serve them and love them more like Christ. And I am encouraged to constantly seek to find Christ through them. 

And as I say those words: “Behold the Lamb of God…” I, like the person on the receiving end, look upon the face of our Eucharistic King and see Him who has come to visit us, who has come to visit me in the “Supper of the Lamb.” And I think and I pray that I might always be blessed to be called there to the side of the Lords flock, looking and gazing together upon the Lamb of God. 

Adoration with the Cathedral Youth Group