How long, O Peace, will we hold one another hostage?
How long will we demand endless penalty for every debt?
“Make straight and wide a path in the wilderness
so that all might travel safely in God’s presence,”
said the prophet — but no, we insist, it can’t be so easy.
How long, O Peace, will we restrain siblings and strangers
from the realization of a new heaven and a new earth?
How long will we deny the kiss of peace and righteousness?
“You brood of vipers,” warned the prophet, “you selfish serpents.”
But no, we protest, peace is our intention — violence is simply
the necessary first fruit, and the first fruit is inherently bitter.
How long, O Peace, will we ask others to be baptized by fire
while we dip our toes delicately in the waters of baptism?
How long until the sun finds us beside the river, wasting away?
“God will speak peace to the people,” sang the psalmist;
“God will whisper salvation and glory to humble hearts.”
But no, we proclaim, God’s whisper will be a judgment.
How long, O Peace, will we limit your possibilities?
How long before we find a tender word to speak?