Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
I pray to you, ray of light,
heavenly king, praised beyond telling,
Son of God, majestic beyond words,
incline your ear once again,
exalted compassion, refuge of life,
toward the feeble sobs of this
Nowhere is it shown,
nowhere can we read that the traveler
all but slain by the swords of bandits,1
cried out to you in his distress,
for he had grown stiff from his wounds.
Nor did he utter a single plea
for he was struck dumb.
Nor did he point out his serious plight
with trembling fingers, O Seer, for
he was shattered. Nor did he fix eyes
filled with tears upon you, doer of good,
for he was ashamed. Nor did he try to
gain your favor through messengers
for he was disconsolate.
Nor did he try to rend your heart,
compassionate one, by showing
his blood soaked clothes and beaten body,
for he had lost hope. Nor did he crawl
upon his knees, since he could not stand and walk
for his dead half said to the living half,
death is at hand.
All the more since, after receiving your counsel,
benefiting from your forbearance and
basking in the radiance of your glory,
he nevertheless did not forswear his wicked ways
but in stiff-necked revolt,
joined the ranks of your enemies
allying himself with those who hate you.2
But you, generous, kind, unspiteful, giver of life,
not only did you not record his sins
but you did not even scold him,
you did not kick him, but rather approached
him in sympathy and treated him with care.
Unlike the priest’s custom in Aaron’s
weak law, hurling aspersions and fistfuls of stones
to speed death,3
you were in no rush
to crush a wounded man.
And unlike the Levite, our early predecessor,
who was the end of the old and the start of the new,
caught between the two, in soulless limbo,
you saw the plight
of the wounded man and did not aim
the deadly axe at the root of life,4
frightening him to death at what is to come
by appearing as the minister of death.
But rather like the Assyrian pagans
known as the promise keepers,5
the law from the Jews
and kept it in tact, even when Jews
had forgotten it, you donned
the mortal cloak of our body to proclaim your
good tidings of deliverance to all peoples.
And by the work of your incorruptible divinity,
you extended your hand to raise
the man condemned to death by his mortal sins,
raising him along with all his generations.6
You brought joy to the gloomy heart.
You steadied the fainting soul.
You restored happiness to the despondent spirit.
You filled his emptiness with the anointing
of the life-giving baptismal font
and the cup of light.
You renewed him through regenerative,
heavenly bread, your body.
Through the watchful company of the happy
elect, you cared, cured, and comforted him.
With a mare’s gentle gait you transported him7
unharmed until his deliverance to the abode of light.
You cured him through two
intercessors, the life-giving testaments,
old and new, given out of your love
for humanity. And as it was once with Moses,
like an eagle with outspread wings, you snatched8
him midair and deposited him in calm safety,
in the land of happiness, ordering
his doctors to nurture him with
the sustenance of your word.
And now, you who have miraculously endowed
all things with the supreme light of your goodness,
gathering as your own, the scattered treasures
and re-establishing your inheritance,
redeem me also, wiping out the debt of my sins.
You, who minister without charge to the unworthy,
grant me also atonement and healing,
O compassionate, mighty, inscrutable, incorruptible
and awesome, eternally blessed one,
unto the ages of ages.