Flight to Egypt

Here in my home state of Oregon, wildfires have become enormously destructive the past few weeks and caused many to flee their homes. I’ve been meditating this week on two related images: the burning bush (which in traditional iconography is seen as a symbol of Mary) and the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt. This poem is written on behalf of, and mostly from the perspective of, all those who must flee home – whether because of war, wildfire, or any other danger.

Flight to Egypt

The world is burning —

at least my small 

corner of it. 

In the smoldering dark, 

I kneel before a memory

of a young bush, mantled

in flame.

Then, I will glide

silently through the sleeping

house, look attentively

as I never do, and think

to myself, “What to bring?

What to leave?” 

                          And find

there is almost nothing

truly irreplaceable. 

You will outlast us.

Sometimes, I can say

nothing more definite

than this, that the tide

of fire and time will rise

and fall, rise and fall

and You the continental

shelf beneath.

No world will ever

end, but that Yours

begins again.

O Mother, who fled

with child at night,

flee with us. 

O Fire she took 

within herself,

mantle us.

Let it be enough

that we yield before

what we cannot comprehend,

that we gathered up

our selves and went,

without despair.

May we too

find ourselves

coursing new paths

by moonlight,

meeting Your eye

with adoration:

wreathed everywhere in flames

but not consumed.

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