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Karen Winterburn

Grand Prize 2008 Novice Christian Poetry Contest $500

About this Christian Poet:
Karen Winterburn lives in Glenview, Illinois with her husband. They have four grown sons and two beautiful granddaughters. Karen works in Adult Faith Formation in her parish church, St. Catherine Laboure. She has written articles and contributed chapters to two books on evangelization and apologetics. She has been writing poetry for many years as a means of understanding and expressing a relationship with God.

About this Poem:
God accepts and loves us completely in all our imperfections, but he does not settle for our imperfections. He does not sit still! He calls us to follow him, mansion by mansion, into himself, where he purifies us, illuminates us and unites us ever more completely to himself. This poem responds to that movement of God in my life.

Many Mansions
(John 14: 2–3)

Don't listen to me, Lord,
when I slump, hungry, outside your door
and beg for You like a lovesick girl.
Don't take me at my word and draw me,
gasping for thinner joy,
over this new threshold.

It's my will You want,
a drink from that fresh running stream: my freedom.
I don't begrudge, but owe You that,
and want so much to grasp and hand it over
in quantum leap, like angel, once for all.
But quick and slippery as it is, I leave You thirsting.

Where are You, Jesus Christ, gone on ahead into the dark again?
I was at home, aglow back there. Wasn't that the place prepared by You?
Why quit me while I sleep so in your hand
to steal away behind this other door?
You drive that soundless word of yours like some sleek nail into wood.
It strikes my heart: "Follow Me!" and I am good for nothing else.

But fit for You?
I am not cured and ready, even ready for the cure.
I pick at my scars, favor my limp, sleep and awaken
(now that You have put me down) unsure and unsound.
Turn me away; You have mistaken me.
No, wait! "Burn me today or burn me later"?

Take me many mansions deep and deeper, Lord,
where eye is blind and darkened
by the fire of your unseen glories.
You are many mansions deep, O God,
the first of which are purgatories.
Hear me, hush me Lord-—a beggar at your door.

Copyright ©2008 by Karen Winterburn