Callahan, Henry. “Camera Movement of Street Lights.” 1942.

Callahan, Henry. “Camera Movement of Street Lights.” 1942.

Stalks of incense,
once lit,
continue burning
even if blown out.

They can’t stop.
The burning is on the inside.

The ember
races to the base
of the stem,
irreversible, no brakes.

And you don’t
— can’t —
launch yourself away,
tumbling to a stop
once you leave the moving object

what’s moving is

Hurtling toward
that goal floating
in the distance,
you can’t tell until
you’re closer
and the air clears -
was it really what you

This poem came out of a season when I was contemplating a couple major life changes but hadn't "flicked the match" yet. Having gone through yet another season of change since then, and now settling into the results of it, I am struck again by all that is set in motion when we make a decision to try, whether that's trying something new, re-trying something old, or just trying something different.

The results can almost never be predicted, yet we still must decide if we want to go forward with it. Do we choose the unsatisfactory known, or the complete unknown? Do we choose into a mystery that may be better than what we have? Or do we settle in? What might Jesus be calling us to? Surely he is with us in either direction, but is one better? I believe both the choice to change and the choice not to change can be made from integrity; change might not always be worth it, and change for the sake of change is inevitably exhausting.

And what you know
now is this;

a pebble starts a landslide but
you have to make a move
because there’s the burning of
or there’s the burning of
a slow suffocation
without change.

flick the match.

In this season, soon after the change of the year, we’ve probably all thought recently about what changes we want to make in the new year. I might plan to slowly make an adjustment, but my most satisfying and successful changes have been more like throwing myself down a hill. So my advice? If you decide you want change in your life, make your change like a stick of incense; set something on fire and don't turn back. Give yourself to the changes you want to make and see what happens.