The World As It is (An Advent Poem)


The World As It Is
(An Advent Poem)
Blind Man at the Gate

I take the world as it is and still believe

Debauched and beautiful, sordid and seemly

Where Kerouac is a secular saint

Heard uncensored telling his story

On the road with Dean Moriarty

In the long run Merton took a better road

But still the beat goes on…

Take your stand on whatever smidgen of faith you have

Smack-dab in a world of hustlers and hookers, users and losers, liars and lovers

Don’t waste your life on a pastel watercolor faith

That runs if touched by a tear or a drop of sweat

Can you take the world as it is

And still believe in God?

Can you take people as they are

And still believe in love?

Or do you only play at make believe?

A world of terracotta saints

Of little houses on soundstage prairies

So not at home in the world as it is

That you can’t wait for it to be left behind

That, my friend, is no real faith

It’s scripted B-movie phoniness

Rated G (for gullible audiences)

A real faith lives in a real world

The world as it is

Sordid and seemly

Debauched and beautiful

It’s the little town of Bethlehem

Good enough for the Son of God


(The artwork is Kitchenette by Bob Dylan.)

  • Gerald Lewis

    This poem encourages me. I have read it numerous times and I hear Sam.

    Frodo : I can’t do this, Sam.

    Sam : I know.
    It’s all wrong
    By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
    But we are.
    It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
    The ones that really mattered.
    Full of darkness and danger they were,
    and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
    Because how could the end be happy.
    How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
    But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
    Even darkness must pass.
    A new day will come.
    And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
    Those were the stories that stayed with you.
    That meant something.
    Even if you were too small to understand why.
    But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
    I know now.
    Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
    Because they were holding on to something.

    Frodo : What are we holding on to, Sam?

    Sam : That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

  • Thank you, Gerald. I love that part of Lord of the Rings.

  • Vicki

    I like this very much. It makes me think of Merton’s revelation on the street corner in Louisville. (Googling gives me a page with a photo of the plaque placed there to commemorate it!) It also makes me think of Bruce Cockburn’s song about the planet of the clowns in wet shoes. When I want to retreat into the make-believe world of “terracotta saints” because reality is so harsh and scary, I try to remember that the real saints — Jack and Bruce and Fr. Louis — see beauty in this “world of wonders,” as Cockburn calls it.