To My Inner Child, A Poem

by Michael Cheng

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Forgive me, for I have sinned.
For as “the Child is father of the Man,”[1] so have I failed to honor you, my father.[2]
For you were hungry and I gave you no food;
You were thirsty and I gave you no drink;
You were naked and I did not clothe you.[3]
When the Lord called out to you, I filled your ears with the voices of Legion.[4]
When the Lord planted you in good soil, I dug you up and tossed you onto stony ground. [5]
When your heart yearned for the Lord, I bound you to the rock with lust and desire, greed and envy, sloth and despair, fear and loathing.
So you pled for death above all else. The Lord heard your blood cry out[6] and in His pity, He transformed you into a wraith.

But I was the fool, not you.
The truth of the Lord shone like a burnished shield at dawn, His judgment upon me, for “no purpose of His can be thwarted.”[7]
I recoiled from the light as a viper from an unquenchable fire.
For forty years, I strayed from grace. Thirst clutched me as an eagle clutches a fledgling chick left unprotected.[8]
Then my thirst turned into drowning. My trial began. For 256 days I have been submerged in the Jordan.
I finally see the light, shimmering on the surface above.
I emerge, my skin wrinkled and rotten. I wallow in ashes.

I strike my breast three times, and the Lord restores our mind, body, and spirit.
When you cry, I shall listen.
When you suffer, I shall comfort.
I will deem you worthy of love, that your goodness be honored.
I will deem you worthy of blessings, that your gifts testify to His glory.
I will uncover your eyes, so that seeing, you may perceive.
I will unplug your ears, so that hearing, you may understand.[9]
When you lose the Way, I will find you and lead you back by the hand.
When His glory blinds you, I will peel the scales from your eyes, that you may find your brothers and sisters who are seeking you.[10]
Whereas you felt like nothing, and thought you were nothing,
You will learn that you are nothing, that with Him you may be everything.
You will learn to be content, that you may trust in “Him who gives you strength.”[11]
You will learn to love, that you may become what the Creator intended.
May you “be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with [Him] forever in the next.”[12]
Amen.

Reviewed by Scott Clark

[1] William Wordsworth, “My Heart Leaps Up”

[2] Cf. Exodus 20:12

[3] Matthew 25:42-43

[4] Cf. Mark 5:9

[5] Matthew 13:20-21

[6] Genesis 4:10

[7] Job 42:2

[8] Cf. Psalm 91:3-4

[9] Cf. Matthew 13:13

[10] Acts 9:18

[11] Philippians 4:13

[12] Reinhold Niebuhr, Serenity Prayer (1951)

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