Poem: Sacrificed Freedom

by | Aug 4, 2021 | Prayers, Spirituality

Sacrificed Freedom

(Audio recording of the author’s reading)

The paschal mystery
Has passed through
My mortal body
Chameleon-like transformation:
From pain to peace,
Broken to beautiful,
Satiation to surrender,
To love.

The pit of unhealed spirit
Had bound around
My mind tightly.
Darkness endured.
But grace
sawing, slowly, slowly,
My soul bracing
For bounding liberation.

Finally… or persistently,
Beauty breaks through.
And I, transfixed
Am sometimes unable to see
Past the last limits
of love-life being breached
Over and over and over! 


My parents’ Aspen tree
In the sun and breeze,
Fritters, glitters galvanizing
Heartstrings plucked and harmonizing,
Beckoning toward love uninterrupted by
The effects of the first sin:
pained labor.

A butterfly flies
With nothing to do but flourish,
resting in roses and marigolds
Sucking sweet nectar.

But this enjoyed rest
Is haunted
By soon-to-come commitments
Bearing responsibility;
A less then-ness than this now-ness.
Work, boredom, exhaustion;
Trapped in something
Other than my own preferred satisfaction. 

Why must I leave behind –
So quickly –
The beauty I now behold
After the time of torment?
Why must being faithful
Now mean choosing to live
With less than a final festivity?

Why descend from transfiguration?
Why circle back to the cave?
“Emptying [myself]…
Becoming obedient to death
Even death on a cross.”?
Why must I lose my life to save it?

Resentment, rumbling.
I see
That if I do not want to lose thee who freed me,
I must lose my freedom for thee,
And also, for a time,
Forego the final resting beauty
that freedom opened me to see.

It feels like a quid-pro-quo
From someone
Who supposedly quit conditions.
For example,
I can’t sit here all day;
Coffee wafting,
Listening to the leaves
Of the Aspen tree and birdsong,
Breeze blowing on my bare feet
Blue sky, butterfly, white brushed bounty.
Why not?

Hard-won wisdom
Freedom born
And freedom producing
self-emptying love.
I have lost this wisdom,
Of surrendered self-will
In the face of privileged good graces.
Forgetting how an other-worldly hope
Necessarily redounds to this-worldly,
Sacrifice for redemption.
A new beauty born
From above,
Which sees strength in weakness,
And life in death
To make room
For an even more majestic
hewn from fault fractured friends,
As you call us. 

Letting go of beauty and rest
For love
Is not settling for less.
Surrender finds
Suffering transcended
Death defying freedom
Forever, finally.


Chris Williams, SJ

cwilliamssj@thejesuitpost.org   /   All posts by Chris