JONAH’S HYMN REUPHOLSTERED

Coughing in the craw of corona

I cried to you, O Lord,

and you, in defiance of all demands

of social distancing

took me snug into your arms!

Pitched into dark seething waters

of viral TMI,

locked out of churches, cafes and school rooms

I quaked with questions:

“Where will we ever meet again?”

Fever flaming in around me;

surgical masks effacing smiles;

all my pleasant pastimes gone extinct,

someone just panic-bought my soul

convinced its recent bitterness

was anti-bacterial.

I’m about to hit rock bottom uncertainty

where all bets on faith are off.

But my bootstraps you pull up, O God,

and my shut-in, bone-bored body follows.

In my distress I kept pressing SEND

on the prayers texted in my deep down cells.

And in the quiet temple of my heart

that no public health order can ever close

you answered without devices,
sighing “all will be well”

in your typically inscrutable tone

freed from the noise of normal,

for normal, by mysterious decree,

no longer holds,

nor holds back, as it once did,

my sacrificial shouts of gratitude.

Jonah 2:3-10

Greg Kennedy SJ is a Jesuit priest working as a spiritual director at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario. His new book, Reupholstered Psalms: Ancient Songs Sung New, is now available for purchase.

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