All Fall Down
We arrive in this world each ruling a kingdom – our hearts enthroned, each in its own vast palace. Then the Usurper comes, trouble-maker, toppler of kings, with the great siege engine of his words:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Down come the jewel-encrusted walls of our treasure rooms. Down come the golden temples we’ve built to proclaim our own spiritual perfectibility.
“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Down come our circuses and ballrooms, our fire-eaters’ and jugglers’ dens, all the bright rooms where we play in frantically happy denial.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Down come all our armouries, our battalions, our catapults and battering rams, all the apparatus of our conquering, crashed to rubble.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Down come our kitchens and feast halls, our stuffed larders and pantries, all the places we fill and fill our emptiness in futile gluttony.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’
He uproots our dungeons, turns over our condemnations, sends our torturers and executioners into exile, throws open every stinking cell and hacks to splinters the axe and the gallows.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Down come the draperies of our lush bedchambers, the houses of our concubines, the tapestried couches of all our lovers. He cleans our filthy garments; he scours clean our painted-over eyes.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Down come our bunkers, our board rooms of strategy and machination where all other men and women become pieces on a chessboard under our hand.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Down come our throne rooms, our court halls, the galleries of the lofty and praised, the stages of the lauded and acclaimed – down they come, all their golden accolades turned to dust.
“Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”
Down come the grand courtrooms where we reward the polished and eloquent and punish the naive and awkward. Down come their judges and their scowling juries.
“Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Down go the safe, private rooms where we whine about our injuries and curse our enemies in peace, justify our righteous selves and lament our unjust fate, the innermost mirrored room of our palace where every wall shines gloriously with our own likeness.
Like cannonballs through the stone walls of our hearts, the usurper’s words send our private palace tumbling, leave us nothing but heaps of ruin, leave us finally alone in whatever kingdom there can possibly be outside our own – alone with him in the splendour of our nothingness.