Written by: Rachael Keefe

Thinking of Jacob’s Long Night: A Poem for Pentecost 19c on Genesis 32:22-32

It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything here. Sabbatical was great and then it was September. I can’t promise I will post every week as I have in the …

Thinking of Jacob’s Long Night: A Poem for Pentecost 19c on Genesis 32:22-32

It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything here. Sabbatical was great and then it was September. I can’t promise I will post every week as I have in the past, though I will post when the Spirit moves. I hope you enjoy my take on Jacob wrestling with God. You are free to use it in your worship without changes and with attribution.

Thinking of Jacob’s Long Night

in the night
having sent reparations ahead
and later two wives
two maids 
eleven children
crossed the river
apart from everything
you are alone

yet not alone
for One appears 
and the tossing and turning begins
you wrestle until daybreak
the Stranger wants to leave
you won’t let go
without a blessing

the blessing given is unexpected
you leave Jacob and become Israel 
	the one who comes after
the supplanter
the heel
the one God protects
transformed into
	the one who wrestles with God
		and prevails

the change is deeper than a name
you are marked by your blessing
hip joint displaced
limping into the new day
to face the brother you cheated
long ago

how blessed did you feel in that moment
with hip throbbing 
exhaustion slowing your feet?

could you feel the transformation begin?

you went on to add one more son to your eleven
becoming the father of the Twelve Tribes
proof that God works through all of us
even the ones who haven’t always chosen holy ways

was that long night of wrestling worth
the pain that came after the blessing?

no doubt you were expecting something different
when you would not let go

if it’s any consolation
you remind us now that blessings
aren’t what we may think
they might be hard-won
they could put us out of joint
	sometimes painfully
	possibly enabling us
to face into wrongs currently
needing forgiveness
mercy
justice
reparations

may we have the courage
to hold on until the blessing comes
transformation takes root
preconceived notions
are disjointed
at the touch of the Holy One
and we move differently
in the world
made new

RCL: Pentecost 19C – October 16, 2022 – Jeremiah 31:27-34 and Psalm 119:97-104  • Genesis 32:22-31 and Psalm 121  • 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5  • Luke 18:1-8

Online home of the Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe.
Image courtesy of Simona Rabova via pixabay
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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

2 thoughts on “Thinking of Jacob’s Long Night: A Poem for Pentecost 19c on Genesis 32:22-32”

  1. Wonderful poem. I appreciate your insights and how you bring scripture to life. Reading this brings so many thoughts of personal and community challenges we face and the importance of understanding the true meaning of “blessing”; a life giving, life changing gift we receive from God even if it comes with unexpected challenges and even pain.

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