-- for Dietrich Bonhoeffer
            with thanks


                                                  You shall have 
                                                    no other gods
                                                          before ME.
                                                  -- Exodus 20:3

My God's a secular god:
he does not shut himself in convents
    that offer refuge from reality;
he does not wait for pious words
    or holy thoughts before he speaks to me;
he does not wait till the endtime
    to reveal himself to me.

My God's a secular god:
he walks the city streets and bends 
    his back with me at work.
He taps me on the shoulder 
    and argues with me endlessly
    over beer or coffee.
When I'm absorbed in other things,
    he will not let me have the last word.

In all this pain and suffering,
    this world's godlessness,
    my own heart's emptiness,
he shows himself at work,
    bearing what I cannot bear,
    bearing even me.

My God's a secular god.
For he is really Lord, 
     not only of the age to come
     but of this present age.
A godless age this? Well, 
    my God's a godless God.

                                                                         -- Mahlon H. Smith

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* Note: This reflection on the first commandment
is from an entry in the author's journal
dated 6 April 1966
and published here for the first time.

Collected Poems
Mahlon H Smith

copyright 2005
all rights reserved