Poems

Up On A Sycamore Tree

Sep 2014    

Amazing that he
the Lord of Life
flanked by hordes
of milling admirers
should notice me
perched in the fork of a sycamore tree;
that he should know me by name,
me, Zacchaeus, feared
but loathed by all,
a tax-collector for Rome,
an outcast, a cheat,
living in the lap of luxury
but friendless, utterly wretched.

He looks deep into my eyes,
into the recesses of my soul,
eyes of such penetration and power,
yet not judgemental
but filled with a compassion
I have not seen
in the eyes of anyone for me.

Why should he
the Lord of Life
even look at me, a pariah.
He stops to speak to me,
petrified with fear
as all eyes turn to gaze at me.
Is he going to reprimand me
as a renegade?

There is an audible gasp,
a moment of disbelief
– a silence that seems like eternity
as he, Jesus, calls out to me
and tells me he is coming to my house
as a guest.
There is a hiss of disapproval from all
as I welcome him.

What is this strange warmth
I feel in my heart
– a warmth I have never felt before
a warmth that has suddenly
transformed me.
That greed for wealth
that held me in its steel vice
is gone
as I declare that half of my possessions
I shall bestow to the poor
and make a fourfold restitution
to all I have defrauded.

Truly there is joyful liberation
in relinquishing
as Jesus proclaims
that salvation has come to my house
and acknowledges me
as a son of Abraham;
for he has come to seek
and to save the lost like me.

Luke 19:1-10

Dr Oliver Seet is a member of Wesley Methodist Church and a Board Director of the Metropolitan YMCA.

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