Climbing Rainbows

"Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all the living creatures of every kind on the earth." -Genesis 9:16

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Location: Ohio, United States

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


You take oxygen for granted.

I’ve seen you running the rat race of your life;
You consume oxygen like you blink your eyes
Or shift your weight,
Partaking of God’s gifts
Without the slightest notion of gratitude.
Your chest rises and falls to the beat of a song
You have never listened for,
Dancing to a tune you have never searched for.

You have never questioned
When you will taste the life-giving stream again.
You do not know what it is like
To feel your lungs burning,
To feel fire coursing through your body,
And to wonder if you will live to take another breath;
You cannot even imagine what it is like
To see the air above you—
Yet know it is so far out of reach—
And to long for it with a passion
Beyond what words can describe.
The sharpest pangs of hunger don’t cut as deep
As starving lungs’ thirst for oxygen.

I am a whale.
When I consume oxygen,
I feast on it and celebrate,
For I know the blessings of every breath.
I know
What it is like to exist without oxygen.
I know.

I know
What it is like to take one last ecstatic breath,
And then to dive into the depths of the sea.
I know
What it is like to leave the oxygen behind me,
Not knowing if I will ever taste the air again.
I know.

Many of my missions take me
One thousand three hundred feet
Below air
(Yes, I’ve counted).
This is deeper than you can comprehend.
Light from the sun can barely reach here,
In the “twilight zone”,
Making this an eerie world
Full of darkness,
Unspoken fears,
And not a breath of fresh air.

And I go even deeper.
At times I have gone
Ten thousand feet below oxygen.
This depth is the midnight zone,
Where there is no light at all,
Only blackness so dark
I can’t see anything. 
I can’t even see
The enemy that I tangle with—
Here I fight with squid fifty feet long,
Squid so huge
You would consider them sea monsters.
Here I fight the darkness.

I know
What it is like to have no light
And no air.
I know
What it is like to be here
In the land of midnight,
And despair.
I know.

I know
What it is like to feel my lungs burning.
Ninety minutes without oxygen.
You think ninety minutes of exercise
Is more than you can handle;
I spend ninety minutes fighting to the death
In the darkness,
Without the slightest breath
Of life’s richest elixir.
I know.

I know
What it is like to climb ten thousand feet
For a breath of oxygen.
Every single foot
Is a fight of torture.
I know
What it is like to finally
Get my first glimpse of light and hope,
But despair at the distance
That still lies before me.
I know.

I know
What it is like to finally reach the fresh air.
I know
What it feels like to burst
Into a celebration of relief.
I know
What it is like feast on oxygen,
The best buffet God has ever set before man.
I know.

I know
What it is like to hunger for oxygen,
But I have tasted, and lived.
There are those who never reach the surface,
Who die trying.
I have seen them, and I know.

I have seen orphans who crave love.
I have seen the raped young woman,
Terrified at the cage she is trapped in.
I have seen the young man whose life
Is broken in the darkness.
I have seen all these
And more,
Crying out for love,
Crying out for oxygen.

I know.
And I weep.


Blogger Lisa Mikitarian said...

Another powerful piece, Benjamin! I loved those opening stanzas--what a statement. And the end--heartbreaking. And the middle--the images so well drawn.

Superbly done.

1:58 PM  

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