If You Must – a poem and thoughts beyond deconstruction

If you must,
deconstruct.

Take every part;
weigh, measure,
keep and discard
necessary things.

Take all the time
you need. But
do not camp
in the ruins.

Discuss discoveries
but
do not raise monuments
to your brilliance –
brave as you may be.

Instead,
in time.
build something new.
Take the remains,
sorrows and pains,
new friends you’ve gained
and build something new;
allowing
the wise few
to remind you
there is a time
to break down
and a time
to build up.

“If you must”
David Tensen

If you are reading this through a Christian/faith lens, you may be aware of what faith-based Deconstruction looks like – especially in the Evangelical sphere today. Personally, I’m all for the personal journey of deconstruction. I’ve written plenty of poetry and prose about it. Some have said this wave of deconstruction among Christians is a revival of sorts. Others, are deeply concerned with its ability to destroy and demolish religious and relational systems. In my opinion, knowing deconstruction movements have existed for decades among philosophies in gender, race, sexuality, law, arts, politics etc. tells me it’s here for a reason and season in its current form.

Ironically, I now find myself needing to deconstruct the strong deconstructionist tendencies in me that threaten to consume me. Why? Because like some churches, the deconstruction momentum can easy to get into but hard to get out of without some sneers, loss and the same doubt one feels when first deconstructing their faith. To be honest, it can be exciting and energetic to talk about, podcast about, write about, complain about, gather a crowd around but it’s hard to build anything new and sustainable from an identity grounded in things we are against or have been hurt by. There comes a day you have to rebuild with things you love and are for.

In her book The Critical Journey Janet Hagberg suggests we are finally invited to move from the important Inward Journey to a productive faith stage of the Outward Journey. Robert Moore PhD might say, you need to move from the Magician to Warrior. Adding, you need to make practical use of all that you’ve learnt. Otherwise, you just spend your time in the dungeon over a cauldron of pain, ideas and critique of the world – yet never ascend to put your hand to the genuine service of the cosmos.

This poem, serves to remind me that we all have the tendency to first swing the inner pendulum away from what is not working, claiming the other extreme is the new answer. Time and experience, however, soon whisper to wisdom in our ears, calling us to a liminal messy middle.

with love
Dave

pic: Mukund Nair

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