257. Preacher: Sunday, Before Meeting

They’ll be here in an hour.
They’ll stream through that
Door, and then sit
Silently, their faces
Turned my way.

Today
I’ll give them something good.
I’ll speak of Heaven’s Gate.
But first,
They’ll hear a warning:
Have you given thanks,
My children?
Are you grateful?
Oh, they’ll startle,
And look guilty,
For they’re not.
They’re cursing out
Their clothes, the shreds
And rags. They’re
Famished with the drought, and
Begging rain–they’re
Cursing clouds that pass,
Eyes turned to sky,
They’re off blaspheming
At the barren land–
God’s land. His
Gift to them. And they’re
Eyeing one another’s
Groceries, wishing
They were anywhere
But here.
Are you patient
For your great Reward? I’ll
Ask–be grateful for
The little that God gives.
Our fortunes can fall lower.
God can take away–
At will. On whim,
Or simply to teach Hell
A lesson.

Heaven’s Gate.
They’ll be so glad
To hear it: on Judgment Day,
The portal they’ll pass
Through, cleansed in
Christ’s blood, robed
In white!
The Gate of Pearl, with
Pearl on pearl inlaid
Like creamy moonlight to
The touch, ingrained
With gold; the fancy-work,
The lattice-work, gold
Hammered thin and lustrous
As a petal, bending
Underneath your fingers,
To your touch.
And your raiment–silver
Tooled to hug your shoulders–
Golden filaments
Weave sunlight in your hair.
Thick silks sheathe your body
As you climb that Stairway,
Each step splashing
Diamonds, as in puddles
Boys and girls will leap and
Play–sapphires, ruby,
Agate-stone;
Lapis lazuli, alive
In shining waves–
Candles sunken in their
Tallow, emerald buds.
Bathe in torches’
Sacred light!….

Only when they’re drunk,
Or when they’re dreaming,
Do the colors burn so brightly
That they weep.
Then do they escape
The grays and browns
That they were born to
Here below–
When drunk, or dreaming, or
At Heaven’s Gate.
God’s afflicted people,
Given hungers, thirsts,
This world can’t
Satisfy–or hope to
Slake, but only torment,
Cruelly tease….
God’s Word
Alone must please.

Bow in gratitude!–
My final warning,
And they’ll frown.
Those pleasures
You desire so bitterly,
Mere figments
Of a Banquet yet to come!
Christ tells us he has
Waiting, many
Mansions. Seek for
Those homes, if your eyes
Must search the sky.

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