A Scene in Isaiah’s Think Tank

They probably sat around tables,                                                                                                                   in a room lit only by olive oil lamps,                                                                                                        a few small flames,                                                                                                                              sometimes steady,                                                                                                                                sometimes weaving in an unseen                                                                                                                movement of air                                                                                                                         like a passing zephyr disturbed its burn                                                                                                and the ducking, flickering flame                                                                                               cast moving shadows across the eyes of the students of the prophet,                                                    
their noses casting dark inverted funnels of shadow                                                                                       
on creased and bearded faces                                                                                                                    as they remembered                                                                                                                                    their mentor,

Isaiah,  long gone in body,                                                                                                                               but more than a zephyr in spirit                                                                                                                           his voice echoing even as they reflected –

“Forget the former things!                                                                                                                       Do not dwell on the past!                                                                                                                         See, I am doing a new thing!                                                                                                         Do you not perceive it?”

And they shift nervously on creaking benches.                                                                                                   One clears his throat.                                                                                                                         Another lifts an earthen challis of wine                                                                                                 to his cracked lips.

“Do we dare write this down,” asks the youngest one,                                                                                        leaning forward, finger bent to the parchment                                                                                    of the scroll, his head scarf unravelling.                                                                                     “Right when our people are at their lowest?                                                                                              Does this not simply tease them?”

And the oldest of them,                                                                                                                                   crows feet splaying from a twinkling eye,                                                                                                 smiles at the youngest.                                                                                                            “Yes!  Write it down!  Let them know that                                                                                                   all oaks begin covered in dirt.                                                                                                                Do you not perceive it?”

And the stylus scratches, and the words form letter by letter.                                                                   Forget the old way, so you might perceive the new, already growing,                                                                                 under the dirt.

And outside the room the passersby hear a burst of laughter.

Among the guardians of tradition and those                                                                                                who cling to old forms like an old                                                                                                              woman her purse,                                                                                                                         the prophet’s students sing:

“Forget the former things and                                                                                                                              do not dwell on the past.                                                                                                                                           I’m doing a new thing.  Can’t you see it?”

About Drexel Rayford

Drexel has been senior pastor of four churches in Kentucky and Virginia, a psychiatric ward chaplain, denominational bureaucrat, and an erstwhile indie singer/songwriter/story-teller and seeker of authentic human vocation. Currently, Drexel is working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center in the capacity of The Support Team Network manager, a hospital-based community partnership aimed at nurturing healing communities for discharged patients. He loves kayaking, road cycling, hiking, and all kinds of photography, but he loves his wife Vicki and blended family of three adult children more. He holds a Ph.D. in the Psychology of Religion and a pastoral counseling certificate from the University of Louisville, Department of Psychiatry.
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12 Responses to A Scene in Isaiah’s Think Tank

  1. suzette mcilwaine says:

    This is absolutely beautiful!

  2. I agree, very beautiful. I just started reading your blog recently and noticed you have not been posting. I hope all is well and I see your beautiful work again.

  3. ruth says:

    What’s happening with you? Life has been very hectic since last summer.

  4. lynn treas says:

    This is awesome. Just saw your sermon from Richmond Baptist back in January. LOVE IT!

    • lynn treas says:

      Are you okay?????

      • Drexel Rayford says:

        Thanks, Lynn! I’m doing quite well. I haven’t blogged in about seven months because of a huge transition in my life to Birmingham, Alabama where I work now. Not to mention the break-up of my marriage. I’ve been wondering if I should pick up the blog again and have just about decided to start posting again. Thank you very much for your good words.

  5. lynn treas says:

    Please, do start posting again. I just finished SPECIES OF THE CALL. It is one of the best books I have EVER read, and goes right along with what I’ve been learning, especially in the last 5 years. So glad you’re on board with UAB! If you’d care to share, my email address is treasnoto@aol.com. To your sermon (and the date it was ‘published’ was on my 59th b’day) I say, surely this must change the insecurities of so many when they learn that they’re “…..on the list.”

    • Drexel Rayford says:

      Lynn, thanks again for the good words and I’m very glad you found the book to be meaningful. Please pass it along to others! Again, thanks for the encouragement, too, to start the posts again. They’ll be coming soon.

      • lynn treas says:

        I have ideas…going to our fabulous book store, Square Books, to pump your book to Richard Howorth, the owner and a friend of the family. Also going to blab about it to FPC book club, of which I’m a member. It won’t take long for SPECIES OF THE CALL to catch on. And Oxford’s a mecca for the old and the new of the literary greats; this book is one.
        It hit home with me (I’m deep into journalizing).
        I might add, the break-up of a marriage is the biggest life-changing event that I, so far, have lived through, and my life has become new and better. You have a precious daughter, and I have no children, so maybe it’s much more difficult for you, but my closest friend made it through with hers. Your song, “Warmth of Living Light” doesn’t hurt. LGT

      • Drexel Rayford says:

        Again, Lynn, thank you so much.

      • Drexel Rayford says:

        Try reading “Invitation to Love” by Thomas Keating. It’s excellent on what he calls “evacuating our childhood programs for happiness.” If I understand correctly what you mean by “soul pollution.” And sorry it took so long for me to figure out that I hadn’t responded to your question!

  6. lynn g treas says:

    what do I read for the “soul-pollution” problem?

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