Equally Skilled.

It was my friends birthday last night and she decided to throw a little shindig. Namely, she put on an art show at a little gallery in Kensington Market here in Toronto. The show consisted of most poems and photographs that she took. Loads of her friends and family showed up and it was a great night. I liked one of her short poems in particular and I thought I’d share it here (hope that’s OK Beth!).

In Zeno’s Paradox.

each of us wears the weight of our own lives.

choice and chance build around us a certain space.

we live together but are never fully known.

Beth's show.

The last line struck me in particular as it’s something I’ve been thinking a bit about lately. “We live together but are never fully known.” I know this is essentially unavoidable but part of me can’t help but lament this truth. I like to be idealistic and think we can reach a point in our communities where we really come to know each other as we are. I don’t think it’s that we intentionally hide from one another (although this certainly is true at times isn’t it?). I think rather, it’s that we don’t even know ourselves. According to the Scriptures it would seem that God is the only one who truly knows us. It is He and He alone who is able to see into the darkness of our hearts. To Him, there is no darkness for everything that is true about ourselves is brought to light and exposed. It’s a bit terrifying to think that there are things within me that even I am unaware of. I mean, even the me that I know sometimes scares the hell out of me. I like to think there are certain things that I am just not capable of but I’m not sure I have the confidence to say “I’ll never do X”.

There’s times when it is hard to find anything redeemable in me. Even the good I do is so often only done for my own advantage. The good I do more often than not has selfish motivations even if at the very least the motivation is to make me feel good about myself. Then there are the times when I get a glimpse at what’s hidden in the darkness of my heart and it can be frightening. I want to live a more human life but I am so often caught up in the dehumanizing, death-dealing ways of myself. I do not even want to begin to think about what else is hidden in the darkness of my heart but I know that there are things there that even I am unaware of. I realize this is all rather somber and fatalistic, sorry for that. Jon Foreman has a song titled Equally Skilled. Here are the lyrics:

How miserable I am
I feel like a fruit picker who arrives here after the harvest
There’s nothing here at all
There’s nothing at all here that could placate my hunger

The godly people are all gone
There’s not one honest soul left alive here on the planet
We’re all murderers and thieves
Settin’ traps here for even our brothers

And both of our hands are equally skilled
At doing evil, equally skilled
At bribing the judges, equally skilled
At perverting justice, both of our hands, both of our hands

The day of justice comes
And is even now swiftly arriving
Don’t trust anyone at all
Not your best friend or even your wife

For the son hates the father
The daughter despises even her mother
Look your enemies are right
Right in the room of your very household

And both of their hands are equally skilled
At doing evil, equally skilled
At bribing the judges, equally skilled
At perverting justice, both of their hands, both of their hands

No, don’t gloat over me
For though I fall, though I fall, I will rise again
Though I sit here in darkness
The Lord, the Lord alone, He will be my light

I will be patient as the Lord
Punishes me for the wrongs I’ve done against Him
After that He’ll take my case
Bringing me to light and to justice for all I have suffered

And both of His hands are equally skilled
At ruining evil, equally skilled
At loving the loveless, equally skilled
Administering justice, both of His hands

Both of His hands are equally skilled
At showing me mercy, equally skilled
At loving the loveless, equally skilled
Administering justice, both of His hands, both of His hands

Both of my hands are equally skilled

at doing evil,

bribing the judges,

perverting justice.

“We’re all murderers and thieves.”

Trust no one.

But God, God is patient.

He disciplines and takes our case,

“bringing us to light”.

And both of His hands are equally skilled

at ruining evil,

administering justice,

showing me mercy.

Though we sit here in darkness,

not even knowing ourselves,

the Lord alone will be our light.

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1 comment
  1. Beth said:

    JT – totally fine with me! I’ve really been enjoying seeing what connected with different people.

    this poem… is a lament for me. i find this inevitable space really tragic – and think you’re totally on cue with the reality that it exists even within our relationship with ourselves.

    sobering.

    one of the friends who read this commented, “I guess that’s where the divine intervenes.” – meaning, God does know us completely and fully. what a beautiful truth.

    and i do think that with & through Jesus, we can know both ourselves and others more fully than we’d be able to without Him. agree/disagree?

    also, one of the songs on my playlist last night was Cure for Pain by Jon Foreman. i love his acoustic stuff.

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