He has also broken my teeth with gravel, and covered me with ashes…
This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.
— Lamentations 3:16, 21
I’m a bleached out desert turd—not a soul around to take a picture, note even one of Job’s buddies. I’m a stick going to stone—my tongue a wooly cucumber, my mouth Velcro, my breath brown, my eyes glued shut, my ears a tape loop of demon scratches on chalkboard. From heart to soul and back, I’m a true story gone rotten, a forgotten effigy, a wasted-out idol-worshiping idol. I don’t know how to thirst, and you are a mirage.
Do you hear?
I can hear myself though, and if I’m just talking to myself, you—a shimmering mirage—might overhear. If I’m really talking toward you, ever elusive Splendor, am I just putting vowel sounds on a death rattle? Will I buy the farm muttering to a mirage? Still, if I’m bleached waste—no mirage here—then I am something. I am. If I am, then maybe you are, too. Is this a semblance of reason? Do you listen to reason? But I have no other way to make way. My soul cannot be shut down, my heart still longs and I push toward prayer.
From out there, from a nearing distance, something mumbles about dry bones, strewn about, chalky, and dissolving. The turds are long gone, but the scattered bones, the prior bones are still there. I coax and I hear something about them coming together. I stay put, knowing slowly.
What, Lord, is the difference between shimmering mirage and burning bush? The desert won’t tell me, my tongue won’t work yet, and my eyes are still stuck shut. But the old tape loop is fading, and I’m beginning to hear another one:..AT..TIAMI…THA…TIAMTH…ATI…AM THAT I AM THAT I AM.
The next step is Jesus, this I know.
— Harold Best, in Dumbfounded Praying, p. 13.