Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
Now, of all your gifts and favors I have received
merciful, beneficent, praised and powerful Lord,
only a few have been set forth here.
But they are all nobles of the kingdom.
They are like freemen with rich estates,
sons of military orders and offspring of the sublime,
great in glory, renewed in light, honored in miracles.
Proclaimed with the unfurling flags of victory, each gift
adorned with a crowning wreath on its heads and
bringing countless other dominions and estates, gifts
praising, endearing, meek, happy, peaceful,
from those regions closest to God.
Of these the prophet prayed,
“Awake, Lord, your heavenly forces and
come to save us.”1
Who is better armed to drive out sin,
fend off hail, melt the ice of despair,
and repel those first rebels from the heavenly ranks,
whose nocturnal ways love the darkness,2
and who from the beginning revolted against God?
It is impossible to recount all the good gifts
you have rained down on me, a weak,
belligerent and ungrateful servant.
But if one were to try to speak
about even the least of this abundance,
one would be at a loss,
recalling the dust we were made of.3
Like a puny weakling, one would be struck dumb
in defeat by the greatness of the maker.
After writing this much I testify again
to the flawed immaturity of my soul
when compared to your perfection, O creator, and
my waywardness in comparison to your kindness.
However, the strength of your praiseworthy
your everlasting light, generous and abundant,
defends me against the ways of the Trickster, who
aims to harden the heart, making it
a rock of despair,
threatening to dry up the two springs4
of the Eden of my sentiments that were
established by the Gardener
to water and make the garden of good works
planted in me flourish.
May we not be snatched again from our
original paradise, through the evil trickery of heretical
illusions that parch our eyes
so that when the miraculously resurrected God stands
as a mediator among the gods,5
bringing his gift of grace,
all the injuries of deceit and short-sighted anxieties,
will be pulverized as if dashed upon a hard rock,
or washed away by the trickling of a stream,
or blown away like the dust.
And so my reprimand shall come, as Job said,
not from myself,6
but from your all-seeing eye,
of which I am in terror,
wrenched with anxieties, dread and fear.
But refuge for my broken spirit lies in your living,
incorruptible, constant hope,
that looking on me with mercy,
as one condemned to perdition,
when I present myself before your heavenly beneficence,
empty-handed and without gifts,
bringing with me the evidence of your untold glory,
I will remind you
who never slumber in forgetfulness,
who never shut your eyes,
never ignore the sighs of grief,
that with your cross of light
you may lift away from me, I beg you, the peril that chokes me,
with your comforting care, the vacillating sadness,
with your crown of thorns, the germs of my sin,
with the lashes of the whip, the blows of death,
with the memory of the slap in the face,
the neediness of my shame,
with the spitting of your enemies, my
with your sip of vinegar, the bitterness of my soul.
For yours is all the boundless goodness,
only begotten Son of God,
together with which, I remember my wrongs,
calling your all blessed name aloud
Look upon my embarrassed confessions of defeat
and grant mercifully to this son worthy of execution,
the death of immortality,
so that on my sins, again and again,
growing by leaps and bounds,
the goodness of your mercy might be proclaimed
with resounding solemnity in heaven as on earth.
And to you with the Father and Holy Spirit,