Walking on Water

 ◊  Saint John Climacus, pray for us

God is everywhere. That’s easy to say, but do we really believe it? Are we willing to admit that God is present even in what looks nothing like holiness or love, i.e. in our sin—before, during, and after?

Here’s a powerful poem from Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, September, 2008.

After the storm, clouds like blown
milkweed lie in the widening sky.
I still don’t know how we survive

our youth, how in a matchstick boat
we cross the wind-clawed sea. When I
look back, I see no boat. I must have

walked on water, holding fast to false
beliefs: that I was strong;
that the worst

had already happened; that to commit
suicide would disgrace
the memory of my grandparents,

who had survived Auschwitz,
so what excuse might I give
for not surviving America?

Maybe it’s not truth that save us,
but a half-remembered image:
dimly seeing in the dark

a luminous, familiar
figure walking on the sea.
And like Peter, you step

out of doubt as out of a boat,
and start walking across the storm—
not on water, not on air,

barely even on faith—
toward what you don’t dare
call love.

— Joanna Warwick