“Prayer For the Lady Who Forgave Us” by John Shea

A colleague used this poem the other day for a worship service. I think it’s a great worship resource, or just a lovely reflection piece.  Enjoy.


Prayer for the Lady Who Forgave Us

by John Shea

There is a long-suffering lady with thin hands

who stands on the corner of Delphia and Lawrence

and forgives you.

“You are forgiven,” she smiles.

The neighborhood is embarrassed.

It is sure it has done nothing wrong

yet, every day, in a small voice

it is forgiven.

On the  way to the Jewel Food Store

housewives pass her with hard looks

then whisper in the cereal section.

Stan Dumke asked her right out

what she was up to

and she forgave him.

A group who care about the neighborhood

agree that if she was old it would be harmless

or if she were religious it would be understandable

but as it is…they asked her to move on.

Like all things with eternal purposes

she stayed.

And she was informed upon.

On a most  unforgiving day of snow and  slush

while she was reconciling a reluctant passerby

the State people

whose business is sanity,

persuaded her into a car.

She is gone.

We are reduced to forgetting.



One Reply to ““Prayer For the Lady Who Forgave Us” by John Shea”

  1. John Shea is wonderful — a poet story telling theologian.
    Another time
    Jesus smeared God like mud
    on the eyes of a man born blind
    and pushed him toward the pool of Siloam.
    The blind man splashed his eyes
    and stared into the rippling reflection
    of the face he had only felt.
    First he did a handstand, then a cartwheel,
    and rounded off his joy
    with a series of summersaults.
    He ran to his neighbors,
    singing the news.
    They said,
    “You look like the blind beggar
    but we cannot be sure.”
    The problem was never
    that he was blind
    and could not work out
    but that they could see
    and did not look in.
    “I am the one, the seeing blind!”
    They seized him in mid cartwheel
    and dragged him to the authorities.
    “What do you think
    of the man who made the mud?”
    But the man born blind
    was staring at a green vase.
    His mouth was open slightly
    as if he was being fed by its color.
    “He is a sinner,” said the priest
    who knew what pleased God’s eyes.
    “Can one who lights candles in the eyes of the night
    not have the fire of God in his hands?”
    said the man fondling the green vase.
    The priests murmured
    and sent for his parents
    who looked their son
    straight in his new eyes
    and said,
    “Looks like our son.
    But he is old enough
    to speak for himself.”
    Off the hook they hurried home.
    “All I know,” said the man
    with the green vase tucked under his robe,
    “is that I was blind
    and now I see.”
    But with his new eyes
    came a turbulence in his sould
    as if the man who calmed one sea
    turned another to storm.

    So before those who locked knowledge in a small room
    and kept the key on a string around the their neck
    he launched into a theology of sin and salvation.
    It was then
    that the full horror of the miracle
    visited the priests.
    “You, steeped in sin, lecture us!”
    They tore him from the podium
    and threw him into the street
    where a man was rubbing much from his hands.
    “How did it go?”
    “I talked back.”
    The man with the new eyes
    took in every laughing line
    on the face of the Son
    who was as happy as a free man
    dancing on the far side of the Red Sea.

    John Shea The Son Who Must Die Stories of Faith

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