The Hardest Word by Kelly Belmonte

“It’s sad, so sad (so sad)
Why can’t we talk it over?
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word”

~Bernie Taupin, Elton John


Kelly Belmonte

You can’t swing a cat in a crowded subway station these days without hitting an offender. By “offender,” I mean someone who has wronged or harmed someone else irreparably. And by “irreparably,” I mean the “you can’t take it back” kind of hurt – the type of offense that can’t be undone with “I’m sorry.”

It’s the sort of shame that is near impossible to forgive and needs to be re-forgiven over and over again because it can’t be simply forgotten. Instead, the offense is relived (and all the accompanying pain) with each remembering. It’s simply that bad.

And by offender (those hit by the cat) – I mean me. And you. And that other guy, too. Because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Because, by “sinned,” I’m pretty sure scripture is talking about offenses and hurts, and irreparable wrongs. And sorry to say it, dear ones, but I have yet to meet a non-offender in the flesh. Ever.

I have an amazing circle of good-hearted and decent friends and family members, and every last one of them has offended. We bang into each other with such regularity (cat or no cat), inflicting untold damage upon our bodies and souls, we forget what to call it. We rename it, dumb it down, fluff it up. For whatever reason (denial? poor theology? pride?), we refuse to use the “S word” – to our detriment, I would argue.

Because, at the end of the day, this is what the Lenten season is all about, isn’t it? We are given this annual gift of time to awaken to the utter brokenness of our hearts, to the great gaping gap between our unworthiness and God’s holiness. If we choose to, we may recognize and acknowledge our offender status and our desperate need for a Savior, for the One who went way beyond forgiveness as a saying – a courtesy even – all the way to the cross, and who now serves as our great Innocent Advocate.

When I was a teenager, I met what I would call a “wise man.” As a Christian spiritual leader, he was speaking to a group of us young people who were eager to learn from one who we perceived as beyond us in matters of faith. One of the members of my group asked what a young person could do to be a better Christian. After nearly a minute of silence, the wise man responded solemnly, “It takes time to be holy.”

And that was all he said about that.

Upon reflection, he could have been talking about Lent – about that time we all need to realize the only holiness we can attain is Christ’s holiness that he offers us freely through his sacrifice on the cross. It’s the only holiness that can forgive our offenses fully and heal our irreparable hurts completely.

And it’s this holiness of Christ on the cross that represents our only real hope for making our sorries between each other count for all time and beyond time.

 

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

Kelly Belmonte

Kelly Belmonte, founder and Chief Muse of All Nine, is a  poet, blogger, and management consultant with expertise in nonprofit organizational development and youth mentoring. Kelly expounds whenever and wherever she gets the chance on poetry, writing, and the creative process. Her work has been published in Relief Journal: A Christian Literary Expression, The Literary Nest, and Atlas Poetica. She is honored to have her poem “How I Talk To God” selected for inclusion in The Word in the Wilderness (2014) edited by bestselling poet Malcolm Guite. Kelly also contributed a chapter to Women and C.S. Lewis (2015), a collection of interviews and essays on the theme of Lewis and women in his life and writings.

Kelly’s two poetry chapbooks, Three Ways of Searching (2013) and  Spare Buttons (2014), are published by Finishing Line Press.

Connect here:

Kelly Belmonte’s image by CloudNinePortraits.com

 

 

How I Talk To God by Kelly Belmonte

Coffee in one hand
leaning in to share, listen:
How I talk to God.

“Momma, you’re special.”
Three-year-old touches my cheek.
How God talks to me.

While driving I make
lists: done, do, hope, love, hate, try.
How I talk to God.

Above the highway
hawk: high, alone, free, focused.
How God talks to me.

Rash, impetuous
chatter, followed by silence:
How I talk to God.

First, second, third, fourth
chance to hear, then another:
How God talks to me.

Fetal position
under flannel sheets, weeping
How I talk to God.

Moonlight on pillow
tending to my open wounds
How God talks to me.

Pulling from my heap
of words, the ones that mean yes:
How I talk to God.

Infinite connects
with finite, without words:
How God talks to me.

Hear Malcolm Guite read today’s poem

 

Romans 8:26–28

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


Rick WilcoxWhat is prayer?  The question seems simple enough, but is it only the traditional version which begins with ‘Our Father’ and ends with ‘Amen?’  Many prayers are exactly that, but can they be more?  As Malcolm Guite points out in The Word in the Wilderness, many have followed the traditional model to great extreme…

St Paul asks us to pray without ceasing, and some contemplatives have understandably interpreted that as a call to leave the world with its business and distractions and seek long swathes of uninterrupted time devoted to prayer and prayer alone. Others have seen it as a call to have a continual hidden mantra, like the Jesus prayer, wheeling and cycling beneath all we do, providing an undercurrent or ground note of prayer beneath all our daily activities. Both these approaches have their merits and have proved fruitful in the lives of some of the greatest saints, but they are not for everyone.

The communion of our lives with our Creator certainly isn’t limited to our vocabulary.  Scripture teaches that the deepest longings of our heart are effectively communicated by the Holy Spirit with “groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Have you experienced the sacred in the ordinary?  As Malcolm says:

It may be that Belmonte’s haiku sequence will encourage readers of this book to write down and remember those moments when the everyday is opened to the eternal.

When do you most sense communion with God?

 

 

Logo

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

 

D I G  D E E P E R


 

Kelly Belmonte has been writing poetry for over 30 years and blogging for ten (mostly at allninemuses.wordpress.com). Important poetic influences have included Kobayashi Issa, R.M. Rilke, Marge Piercy, Malcolm Guite, Frank Gaspar, and many other fine poets. Her work has been published in Atlas Poetica, Relief Journal, The Literary Nest, Open: Journal of Arts & Literature, and Ruminate, and included in The Word in the Wilderness (Canterbury Press, 2014) and Love, Remember (Canterbury Press, 2017). She also contributed a chapter on the poetry of C.S. Lewis to Women and C.S. Lewis (2015), a collection of interviews and essays on the theme of Lewis and women in his life and writings. Kelly’s two poetry chapbooks, Three Ways of Searching (2013) and Spare Buttons (2014), are published by Finishing Line Press.

Kelly Belmonte’s image by CloudNinePortraits.com

 

 

 

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page.

Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith

 

 

51vg-xoskvl-_sy346_For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.

Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.

 

Love With Us by Kelly Belmonte

Kelly Belmonte

It’s Monday morning and it’s cold. The car needs warming up, the windshield scraping. I stop at D&Ds for a cup of decaf, spill half of it on my coat. My cold clumsy hands unlock the office door, turn on the lights, my computer… another day.

Is this what it was like for the shepherds? Another cold night on the same old hillside with chapped hands and the bleating of sheep? Baaa… humbug.

Then the veil is pulled back. It starts with one angel. Then the glory of the Lord. And then terror – and good news – just a breath apart! And then that whole blessed heavenly host, glorifying and praising God.

So the shepherds decided to check it out for themselves. Of course. Would you go back to the office after being confronted by an army of angels? The sheep can wait. That is a no-brainer.

They ran down the hill into the town, found the baby in the manger exactly as the angel said they would, then came back glorifying and praising God. He came! Emmanuel – God with us! Nothing will ever be the same!

I wonder what that next night was like, or the next 50 nights, or the night five years from then. Another cold night on the same old hillside? Same bleating sheep, same chapped hands? Or did that glimpse behind the veil change their lives forever?

We see through a glass dimly; then we shall see face to face. The behind-the-veil evidence of Emmanuel is too much for us to bear – so he gives us glimpses, a “dim glass” view. That’s all we can really handle: the occasional realization that we were just spared to live another day; the miraculous healing of a loved one; the saving words of a contrite heart. If we only really knew about Emmanuel; if we could only see how God is with us every moment, how He gives us each breath, marks our every step, knows our every thought. Could we bear it?

Would it make a difference next Monday morning when I scrape my windshield and spill coffee on myself yet again? Maybe just knowing that I can’t possibly know all that is behind the veil, I will simply give thanks that He provided me with safe transportation, that I have spare change to spend on coffee, that I have a job.

There is so much we cannot know about Emmanuel, God with us. But we do know that God is Love. He has given us more than just a glimpse of Love. He made an unmistakable statement as He splashed it across the night sky, then took on human flesh and laid Himself down in a manger. He became Love for us. In the face of all that is tragic and mundane and distracting, we can know for sure that we have Love with us. And that can’t help but change us. Forever.

IMG_01811 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Meet The Author


Kelly Belmonte

Kelly BelmonteKelly Belmonte, founder and Chief Muse of All Nine, is a  poet, blogger, and management consultant with expertise in nonprofit organizational development and youth mentoring. Kelly expounds whenever and wherever she gets the chance on poetry, writing, and the creative process. Her work has been published in Relief Journal: A Christian Literary Expression and Atlas Poetica. She is honored to have her poem “How I Talk To God” selected for inclusion in The Word in the Wilderness (2014) edited by bestselling poet Malcolm Guite. Kelly also contributed a chapter to Women and C.S. Lewis (2015), a collection of interviews and essays on the theme of Lewis and women in his life and writings.

Kelly’s two poetry chapbooks, Three Ways of Searching (2013) and  Spare Buttons (2014), are published by Finishing Line Press.

Connect here:

Kelly Belmonte’s image by CloudNinePortraits.com