Broken-down Poetry: Good morning


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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good morning

But friends, your dead will live,
your corpses will get to their feet.
All you dead and buried,
wake up! Sing!
Your dew is morning dew
catching the first rays of sun,
The earth bursting with life,
giving birth to the dead.

Come, my people, go home
and shut yourselves in.
Go into seclusion for a while
until the punishing wrath is past,
Because God is sure to come from his place
to punish the wrong of the people on earth.
Earth itself will point out the bloodstains;
it will show where the murdered have been hidden away.
-Isaiah 26.19-21


Oh yes.


Good morning. My favorite texts in the world are "good morning" texts from Nathan. They're texts that remind me that whatever happened yesterday--whatever stress, whatever fight or struggle--is gone. Good morning. It's a new day. It's fresh. Let's wake up and sing.

I've called grace many things before. I've called it a hug. I've called it plants that grow in the wintertime. But today, today I'm going to call grace morning.


In Iraq, the sun rose at 4:30 a.m. The Iraqi sun is bright; it's hot; it's disturbing; it wakes you up.

I think that's grace. Okay, so I say grace is the morning and that evokes some brand of fuzzies. Aw, it's like that 1990s worship song: "Though the sorrow may last through the night, his joy comes in the morning. I'm tradin' my sorrows...." But really, it's more than that. It's hard. It's bright and blinding.

I say grace makes you do something, take action. In the very least, it makes you get out of bed. Morning is here; you can't stay in bed all day.

For me, morning is planning time. If I am not running late (as I usually am), I think about where I need to go that day, what I need to accomplish, how I am going to do it all. Morning requires something of me.

Grace, of course, is the same way. Grace says that whatever happened the night before, is over. It's done, taken care of. Any wrong I've committed against God is forgiven, and I am washed clean. But, I'm still responsible. I'm responsible for the upcoming day.


Isaiah is all about the coming of the Messiah. The prophet warns Israel and its neighbors of God's wrath, but he tells also of a redeemer called Immanuel, God with us.

Remembering that, I'm trying to make sense of the second stanza above, the one after the exclamation about morning! and singing! and sunshine! The one that says to lock yourselves in your house to escape God's punishment.

In context, the joyful stanza comes after Isaiah's description of his people's current condition: "Oh God, they begged you for help when they were in trouble, when your discipline was so heavy they could barely whisper a prayer."

I wonder if that final stanza is a "sobering up." Yes, God is good. God will give you a new morning, a new life, some fresh dew on the ground. But remember what you're doing right now. Remember your current situation, the sins you're immersed in, your addictions.

I think of this stanza as a mourning (yes, a nice play on words for us to enjoy). It's like: go inside your houses and shut your doors and take a while to think about what you did. Give yourself a time out. Keep yourselves from sinning. Watch out. Be careful.


I write this post at night, anticipating the morning, anticipating grace.

All you dead and buried, wake up! Sing!


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