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Gretchen Friel

Second Prize: 2017 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $500

About this Christian Poet:
Gretchen Friel is a high school creative writing and German language teacher who lives with her husband, Shawn, in Northern Illinois. There are five adult children in their blended family, and she treasures the marriage and baby stages currently in bloom. She run-walks for clean water, rides horses, quilts, and of course writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction work. She has completed her first inspirational YA novel and is currently working on a non-fiction memoir which shares her journey of loving a brother with chronic alcoholism.

About this Poem:
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had to admit that I was not in control of my own life. At first, I was clear about God's authority in all aspects of my existence, including my thinking and attitude toward others. Later, because of my human state, I returned to the pull and tug that goes on between surrendering all things to God, and making choices that serve myself. In this poem, I made the connection to Jonah who had miraculously been spared from the belly of a whale to later question God's heart regarding others.

Not Quite Nineveh

I promised God
I would not squander joy
after the surgery.
Like a whale shark,
I would sift salt water
through my cavernous mouth,
harmless
to everything but krill,
keeping enough
small particles to live
but expelling the rest
in smooth
deep oceans
of weightless peace.
Gliding,
seeing,
breathing despite pressure
measured in square feet
above me.
Like Jonah,
I would submit,
after resisting
scans,
biopsies,
treatment schedules,
become remixed,
woman and great fish,
a living lesson
in promises kept.
 
Months later,
I could almost see
His head shaking,
as He delivered sun,
sand,
thirst,
watched me dig
a poison root
out of a perfectly
good year,
His finger pointing,
“Go, just go.”

Copyright ©2017 by Gretchen Friel