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Pat Schneider

Between the last war
and the next one,
waiting for the northbound train
that travels by the river,
I sit alone in the middle of the night
and welcome angels.
Welcome back old hymns, old songs,
all the music, the rhyme and rhythm,
welcome angels, archangels,
welcome early guesses
at the names of things,
welcome wings.

I have grown tired of disbelief.
What once was brave is boring.
Welcome back to my embrace stranger,
visitor beside the Jabbok.
Welcome wrestling until dawn,
until it is my hip thrown out of joint,
my pillow stone, my ladder
of antique assumptions.
Welcome what is not my own;
glory on the top rung, coming down.



Jacob’s mysterious wrestling match

A bible reading this Sunday in many congregations will feature a story (Genesis 32:22-31) — wherein the trickster Jacob is camping out in the wilderness, guilt-ridden and worried about tomorrow’s confrontation with his brother. Suddenly, he is beset by a mysterious stranger with whom he wrestles all night, whom he comes to recognize as God.


Lord, contend with your always struggling people.
Disturb us with your justice we can’t shake off.
Pursue us with your truth that we can’t leverage.
Bless us with your touch, but not too much.
And gift us with wisdom enough to recognize you. Amen.



POEM: “Welcoming Angels” by Pat Schneider, from Long Way Home, © 1993 Pat Schneider (Amherst Writers & Artists Press).

“A Painting depicting the night when Jacob wrestled with God. After the match was over, Jacob was given the name “Israel,” which means “God Wrestler.” (Artist, Mike Moyers)

ART: “Israel,” by Mike Moyers, 2011, Moyers, Mike. Israel, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 29, 2020]. Original source: Mike Moyers,