Poem: How to Kill a Living Thing  

Posted by Denis Haack in ,

How to Kill a Living Thing

Neglect it
Criticize it to its face
Say how it kills the light
Traps all the rubbish
Bores you with its green

Harden your heart
Cut it down close
To the root as possible

Forget it
For a week or a month
Return with an axe
Split it with one blow
Insert a stone

To keep the wound wide open.

            [Poem by Eibhlin Nic Eochaidh]

This poem was read in church yesterday, a reminder of how deeply the brokenness extends into life and how easily I find myself part of the process. Sadly, I can find reasons, good reasons, excellent reasons to return with the axe. They attacked me and all I am doing is showing them their criticism is mistaken—something is wrong within them and deep sores need to be lanced. They don’t fit in because they just don’t try and unless their unhealthy sense of entitlement is rooted out they’ll never get anywhere in life so I am doing them a favor. They are different and so everyone feels so uncomfortable, an unnecessary thing if people just try, which they don’t unless provided with some loving motivation—which my carefully aimed blows are intended to be.

The image given in Scripture that the Almighty, the God of heaven and earth notices the tiniest sparrow hopping and then stumbling as it picks among the litter on the ground is not merely a record of divine omniscience but a standard for compassion (Matthew 10:29). That just as Christ embraced the cross I must absorb blows so that others may flourish more fully as the human beings God made them to be. How can I know that and still prefer to cut them down to size?

Source: graphic online (http://www.haryana-online.com/fauna/Birds/house_sparrow.htm)

This entry was posted at Monday, October 10, 2011 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I am missing reading other people's comments! It's such a blessing to have a little community here. I just wanted to say, I read this, and am guilty. And it breaks my heart...in a good way.

October 13, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Good to hear from you.
Like you, I heard/saw myself in this poem. It's so striking how a few, a very few words can reveal so much.

October 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM

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