after Robert Browning
God’s in His heaven, wrote the old poet,
all’s right with the world. Seems up for debate
with unjust suffering so commonplace,
and every day seemingly more of it.
No poet, no preacher from any pulpit,
could ever resolve the mystery of fate
and free will, of happenstance and grace.
The most faithful know they shouldn’t.
Instead, like a finger points toward the moon,
summon the stories, both ancient and new,
that chant against the dark, teach right from wrong —
not to proselytize or prophesize doom,
but, as Browning hoped, to people the solitude.
Sing the faith that, here and now, we belong.
ANDREW TAYLOR-TROUTMAN is the pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the author of “Gently Between the Words: Essays and Poems.” He and his wife, who is also a pastor, are rattled and blessed by parenting three young children.