Thinking of Jacob’s Long Night

a long night

black and white photo of a woman leaning her forehead against a mirror with her hand between her face and the mirror; Image courtesy of Simona Rabova via Pixabay.

If it’s any consolation you remind us now that blessings aren’t what we may think. They might be hard-won. They could put us out of joint...

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Because some of you have asked, here is the poem I wrote for Sunday.

This poem was originally published on BeachTheology.com.

Thinking of Jacob’s Long Night, by Rachael Keefe

in the night
having sent reparations ahead
and later two wives
two maids
eleven children
crossed the river
apart from everything
you are alone

yet not alone
for One appears
and the tossing and turning begins
you wrestle until daybreak
the Stranger wants to leave
you won’t let go
without a blessing

the blessing given is unexpected
you leave Jacob and become Israel
the one who comes after
the supplanter
the heel
the one God protects
transformed into
the one who wrestles with God
and prevails

the change is deeper than a name
you are marked by your blessing
hip joint displaced
limping into the new day
to face the brother you cheated
long ago

how blessed did you feel in that moment
with hip throbbing
exhaustion slowing your feet?

could you feel the transformation begin?

you went on to add one more son to your eleven
becoming the father of the Twelve Tribes
proof that God works through all of us
even the ones who haven’t always chosen holy ways

was that long night of wrestling worth
the pain that came after the blessing?

no doubt you were expecting something different
when you would not let go

if it’s any consolation
you remind us now that blessings
aren’t what we may think
they might be hard-won
they could put us out of joint
sometimes painfully
possibly enabling us
to face into wrongs currently
needing forgiveness
mercy
justice
reparations

may we have the courage
to hold on until the blessing comes
transformation takes root
preconceived notions
are disjointed
at the touch of the Holy One
and we move differently
in the world
made new

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and mental health ministry. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others.

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