Theme: Choice

Five Wooden Crosses

If you've heard this story before,
stop here, in lieu of hindering my presence,
to read no more than the first line or two;
but if you have not,
bear me out: it'll be worth the few
moments that every story is in essence,
forgetting which, we remember evermore.
There was a man who daily complained
that his was the hardest lot of all:
who could see himself burdened as no other,
the victim of some plot
of hopeless fate: isolated from his brother
man, it seemed no one would hear his call
for help, so he kept it shut inside, and feigned
a mute cheerlessness, as best he could.
And God, one day, decides it's time,
as providence uncannily works all around us,
to show him what he'd got
that others hadn't; and in His love for sinners,
ever evident, conceives a parable sublime
for a wooden heart from five crosses of wood.
The man's guardian angel approves the scheme
spontaneously, praising God, and waits for the night,
as 'goers do the opening of the theatre,
to reveal in the spot-
light the action, for this poor man the better
appreciated when his self-confessed plight
itself lay senseless, in the pavilion of a dream.
Approachable as men appear in sleep, eyes move
in quick response, and quick the mind engages
the unfolding action, the angel brightly appears
bringing what from God is got:
the five wooden crosses; even as he feared
the worst, the man's fear the angel assuages,
and smiles his intention God's love to prove:
'Here are five crosses: the first, a heavy one indeed,
'impossible to lift; the second, like the first, unbearable,
'but mostly in the sight, rough and forbidding; the third,
'the most uncouth of the lot,
'until the fourth: full of thorns, a woe unheard
'of, even to you who witness, unendurable;
'and the fifth, ah the fifth, is a veritable reed!'
'Choose,' says the angel, 'from among these five
'that which you would bear through life, and gain
'salvation for your immortal soul.'  Amazed,
and frozen to the spot
where in the dream he stood, the man replied: 'Fazed
'am I by the choice, for what fool the plain
'reed would not embrace, and be the wisest man alive!'
'Then count yourself the same,' the angel says, 'the reed
'you choose is the cross you already bear.'  And then
the dream was ended.  It was many years ago,
but in the burial plot
A gravestone bears this legend:
                                                THIS MAN SO
                          CHANGED FROM SELFISHNESS, NO PEN


More By  :  R. D. Ashby

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