By Katelyn Durst
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
~ Isaiah 43:2
Perseverance is the song of an exiled believer
One who clenches onto hope
When everything else has been swept away
It can be a journey from the barren depths
It can be forest filled with disappointment
It can be a candle almost burned out in the windowsill of the unknown
It may seem unending.
A continuous laying down of foundations
In communities of displacement, trauma and personal and spiritual poverty
It is easy to think maybe perseverance
Is not my call
Pulling on your faith feels like a waterfall of dominos
Spilling outside of your own control
With shame on your back
A spine already bent by the darkest injustices,
It can seem more convenient to sit in the shadows where you can be unseen
And let your convictions become less relevant
But, no, this is the very moment to take up your bed and walk.
To trust in the simple truths:
The first burst of pink cherry blooms, a brilliant blue sky and the stillness found in a cup of tea.
Maybe it’s time to return, even if crawling, to the plight our Mighty God calls us to
And remember that we do not have to work against the enemy with our own callused hands
In His name all oppression shall cease
Maybe it’s time to sit at the feet of Jesus with arms open to His bright light,
Let it be the flame that charges the story He is already written about our lives, our families and our community.
To see perseverance as the product of your faith, so when you feel undone, alone
And overwhelmed, know that you are just a few steps away from the mountain top
And know that those footsteps leave fertile ground for seeds of truth and love to
That your soul carries the fire that makes oceans part
That your brokenness is a thread in the tapestry making you whole
So rise…rise because beyond this forest, this mountain top
There is a meadow
Filled with sunburnt wild flowers
Stand in its grace.
Cup your hand to your ears
Hear the echo of hope
The hymn of sojourners
Whose backs are ripe with the fruits of their journeys
Whose eyes flash visions of home
And trust the One capable of making your body more than just bones
But rhythm, and dreams and purpose.
Katelyn Durst is a community artist, creative activist, teacher and youth worker. She has worked within urban youth development and urban community development for ten years and has taught poetry for six years, recently conducting poetry therapy workshops at a youth psychiatric hospital, and for Freedom Schools summer programming in a workshop focused on healing from the unjust deaths of youth of color. Katelyn is currently pursuing a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Arts from Eastern University with a focus on trauma-informed art-making to build sustainable and transformative resiliency within urban/inner-city and displaced communities. In her spare time, she dreams of becoming an urban beekeeper. She is poet-in-residence at The Mudroom.