Dennis Alger, former pastor of Gresham United Church of Christ (formerly Zion UCC), read his poem “No Future“ as part of the final worship service of the church. The members voted to close the church after 109 years of faithful ministry. A celebration of their history, and an affirmation of their continuing legacy took place on October 4, 2015, World Communion Sunday.
Is this what it feels like when the
Visions of tomorrow, of next year,
Disappear like the mirage of water
Seen on a hot, dry day – gone?
This anticipated way of being in a
Certain place, among a certain
People, a sustaining and exciting
Mode of meaning, torn away like
Chapters of a book once enjoyed
But now questioned for its story
Line, its basic premise. Must it
End with this upending change?
No future indeed is the existential
Predicament of the sojourner who
Cannot perceive another pathway
Or vantage point… for now.
Unlike the carpenter who simply
Selects another nail when the one
In use bends and must be pulled
Loose, we must ponder the wood.
Maybe we hit a knot; maybe we
Simply struck the nail at a bad
Angle; maybe we chose the wrong
Nail. We must examine the situation.
No future calls for retreat at times
And introspection and reevaluation.
No future feels like the end; time to
Fall off the edge of the known world.
And when well-intentioned persons
Offer their cheery encouragement it
Is easy to dismiss their kindness;
They are still operating with a vision
Of their anticipated future. They
Cannot possibly relate to this pit of
Despair, discouragement, sadness.
We do not share common language.
No future comes as a shock to us
Who, after years of living a certain
Way and dreaming dreams of what
Desired outcome is up ahead, are
Forced to ask directions; we have
Become lost and feel like aliens in
A once-familiar landscape. The
Trusty Triple-A road map may be
Useful on most marked roads, but
This one is very different. And we
Fear the disembodied On-Star voice
Saying, How did you get there? You
Really are stupid. Where did you get
The idea that this life-road was right
For you, that there was a future?
Call someone else; I’m too busy.
No future is a real place for many who
Are beset by loss, assaulted by pain,
Distressed by matters of illness, death,
Unemployment, divorce, hopelessness.
Those around us do well to recognize
And respect that place. That includes
Sitting with us, being patient with us,
Even offering seed for the next garden.
Once we determine that we’d like to
Plant again despite the altered and
Less-familiar landscape of our life’s
Adventure in horticulture. Often good
Therapy, this business of planting for
those who follow, if not for ourselves.
No future does not mean no legacy. It
Means a revitalized legacy through the
Many ways with which we have coped
With an unanticipated earthquake in
Our formerly-firm life-footing. Find a
Safe place to cry, as needed…and,
Just possibly, dare to dream again as
The bud of a new future emerges.
dennis alger august 2014
© 2014 Dennis Alger, all rights reserved. Published here with permission.
Wind Words – Spirit Writing from the Central Pacific Conference is a periodic offering of inspired writings by authors from around the CPC. To submit prose or poetry for Wind Words, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.