“O come, O come

Emmanuel . . .”

the song lingers

as my body wells

up with the emotions

that bring the spasms,

I grab my arm

behind my back

to weaken the trembling

and contort my face

to avoid the tears.

I hate this. . .

wanting to sing

but the words

get caught in my throat

as I fight

to control the tics

hoping no one

is watching.

And every verse

reminds me of stories . . .

Walking into the foyer,

I hear

“So take your candle

out into the darkness. . .”

I try to keep my feet

from running. It should

be a lovely song, but the words

bring back

the trauma. . .

‘Late summer,

the air was warm

with lies, does selling

more Great Controversies

really make you more holy?

“Dear Heavenly Father

I pray you will dispel

this spirit of selfishness. . .”

Under other circumstances,

it might have been a decent prayer,

but I was

trapped in the corner

of the camp-meeting bunk

filled with a strange terror

knowing the ones who could

wouldn’t help me, and the ones

who knew didn’t seem to care,

because the tragedy

of religious abuse

is the spiritualizer

has the power to make good

appear evil, and evil appear good.‘

The church pew

took shape beneath me

and I breathed again.

At least, the Christian

artists keep composing,

maybe in a few years,

these moments will be

more manageable.

I hope time

really does heal

all wounds, because

sometimes, I really

want to belt

a tune or two,

to join the chorus

of praise

to our Almighty God,

King of the Universe,

Creator of Music,

Savior of Sinners,

Healer of the Broken,

The One who made me;

And nothing


tics, quirks, jerks

traumas, trials, tears

faults, failures, fears

can separate me

from His love.

And so my voice

will rise in hymn again,

“And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Yes, Emmanual

will come to your heart too,

He already paid the ransom

Rejoice, Rejoice!

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