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Nothing happens in this room.
That is why we come.

Pews have ceased to creak beneath their burden.
Elders summing up the worth of lives,
exhausted careworn parents, antsy children —
all gone now. A gasp escapes an organ pipe.
Like a canyon breeze, it serves to warn
the pilgrim of a fast-approaching storm.

We walk in holy canyons before a rain,
before the drowning torrent washes clean
the remnants of unsanctified terrain.

This is the honest hour, when all pretense has flown.
Nothing knows and nothing is unknown.

Holy words may yet be said, holy music sung,
holy food broken and poured in holy ware.
Nothing makes them holy, and makes us one.

Beyond the reach of prayers for grace, surpassing
justice neither blind nor balanced true,
solace trickles down in wordless blessing,
like drops from canyon walls after a deluge,
oblations to the god whom none can claim,
who obeys no law, and has no name.

Nothing happens in this room.
That is why we come.

PAUL HOOKER is a teaching elder member of New Covenant Presbytery and associate dean for ministerial formation and advanced studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.