In the malpaís

malpaís (spanish: mahl-pah-ees; lit. “badland”): an arid, rough barren landscape of lava flows difficult to traverse; image: A Juniper bush grows out of the lava beds at the Carrizozo Malpais

In the malpaís – the badland –
burning – a bird flew down
And on my right hand sat

His eyes spoke love, so complete
His feathers gentle gleamed, so glorious
Where sun beat heavy in the malpaís

His kingly talons dug into my flesh
Scored pain, bled wounds, I cried
scorched by heat in the malpaís

Yet the good song he sang as I died
Was one that filled my heart with joy,
With peace ne’er felt in the malpaís

In the malpaís – waiting –
once hopeless, condemned –
With my last breaths, enlivened I rise

Bald Eagle at El Malpais, New Mexico

Lamentations 3:16-25
He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Romans 15:8-13
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”
And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

9 thoughts on “In the malpaís

    1. I love learning new words just as quickly forget them so I put the defn. up for myself as much as for others!! 🙂
      We live as believers in union with the living Christ in the twilight between the “already and not yet”: until He returns! Advent is a season that really describes our life in the malpais. Praying for you all this first Sunday of Advent.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. For me the landscape essentially describes in exile, our life on earth waiting for the return of our risen King, our Lord Jesus. In this life lived as believers in union with Christ (see Romans 6), we undergo trials of various kinds, all under the sovereignty of God. These aren’t punishments. They occur for all in the context of our fallen world. For believers there is an added dimension of sanctification through the suffering in that we learn to trust and depend on our Lord and are drawn closer to Him in faith, in love, as we see how He provides for us day by day. But there is a dying to self as well, and that too is painful, not a punishment but a sanctification as we yearn to live the life we are called to in Christ which leads to the certain hope of Romans 8:28. What I’m referring to in the poem is something like Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” and it bears many interpretations but I think the ambiguity in that passage is purposefully so.


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