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September 3, 2010 / thomcaraway

Blessed Are You When Others Revile You

by Tania Runyan

We knew Preacher Man had it all wrong,
the 6’4″ senior who pinned kids to their lockers
with the Four Spiritual Laws,

popped his head into classrooms
to proclaim, “all have fallen short
of the glory of God,” and waved his Bible

as teachers dragged him to the principal’s
office, pages riffling like the hems
of Jesus in the desert.

We knew he had lost the point
of sharing the Gospel through the simple
testimony of a life well-lived:

turning down sex and weed,
spotting spare dollars in the lunch room.
He makes us look so lame,

we groaned in youth group.
He’s working against our cause.
But when on afternoon

a freshman stuck his foot out
and Preacher Man slammed to the floor,
only to scramble after the retreating boy

and pull him into a hug, I knew
I had it all wrong, because he became
Jesus in the hallway of my school,

and I could never forgive him.

Tania Runyan’s first full-length collection of poetry, Simple Weight, was just released by FutureCycle Press. Her poems have also appeared in Poetry, Atlanta Review, Indiana Review, The Christian Century, Willow Springs, Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, and others. Her chapbook, Delicious Air, was awarded the 2007 Book of the Year Citation by the Conference on Christianity and Literature.

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