Ribalto art with A Hymn to the Divine Yearning

Sacred homoerotic longing for Jesus is elegantly expressed in new poems by two poets who write in different styles.

Both poems are posted here in full. They are “A Hymn to the Divine Yearning” by John Love and “I Need to Taste My God” by Jim Wise.

John Love introduces himself by saying, “I am 82, unmarried and committed to celibacy. And, as will be evident from the poem, I am homosexual.” He is based in London, United Kingdom.

Love was inspired in part by the painting “Christ Embracing Saint Bernard” by Spanish Baroque artist Francisco Ribalta, so he created a pictorial version of the poem that incorporates the painting and his text. A portion of the image is posted here. The full file is available to anyone upon request.

Psalms 62 and 63 provided another source of inspiration for the poem. “However, above all, it is a celebration and thanksgiving for my sexuality which has made possible this beautiful relationship,” Love explained.

Jim Wise describes himself as “Queer Poet, Hermetic Mendicant, and Pantheist, itinerant theologist and roving Chaote – an Earth-centered, Eros-loving, Logos-chasing, dirt-worshiping revolutionary – living in Indianapolis with my partner Steven Chen.”

He considers himself “something of a UCC Old Catholic spiritual pilgrim” because he attended seminary under sponsorship of the United Church of Christ and was ordained in an Old Catholic jurisdiction. The following poem comes from his “Queer Psalter” collection, currently a work in progress.

Wise’s poetry has appeared in RFD Journal, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and a host of online literary journals and zines. He welcomes contact and can be reached at calamuswise@gmail.com.

A Hymn to the Divine Yearning

by John Love

Oh God you are my God
For you I long
For you my soul is thirsting
My body pines for you
Like a dry weary land
Without water

One day I had a vision
Of Jesus Christ my Lord
Of God and man quite melted
And of love beyond record

How could I hold this vision
And make it real to see?
How could I know this Jesus
Both God and man for me?

The Son of God made answer
As only humans can
With arms outstretched he bid me
‘come first to me as man’

And so as man I saw him
Desired his warm embrace
Desired his warm sweet flesh
and lingered on the face
of Jesus

But that desire could no way match
The yearning of my lord,
With circling arms he drew
To the flesh
of God

What joy to feel the freedom
To love my God as man
What joy that this, my pleasure
Was made so by his plan.

My spirit’s search for union
And my bodies strong desire
Unite in this sweet moment
To light the sacred fire
of love

But that sweet love is Jesus’ first
I see him man and God
Yearning for this sinner
for this mere earth-bound clod

Ravish me oh Jesus mine
fill me with your life divine
Draw me to your sacred flesh
And make of this sweet eros mesh
Assurance of your yearning

Oh God you are my God
For you I long
For you my soul is thirsting
My body pines for you
Like a dry weary land
Without water

I Need to Taste My God

by Jim Wise

I need to taste my God
Not the bread of Eucharist
but the rough salt-sweat tang
of skin baked brown in the furnace
of the hot Judean sun

I need to kneel before my God
Not in genuflection but in service
Oiled hands to massage
away the pain of prophecy
and rub clean the dirt of
another day homeless
on the unforgiving road

I need my God to fill
every void I have with
a thousand singing seraphim
then take a tithe primed up
from my deepest secret self

I need a God
who sweats on me
and makes my muscles
ache and strain
Whose worship leaves
me needing a bath
when the last prayer
ends with the last Amen

I need to worship my God
beside brothers who squat in
burned-out abandoned churches
Brown-clad mendicants spending
their hours adoring a God
clothed in the body of a
bearded beggar-prophet
whose cross is a dungeon rack
where souls are redeemed
and everything is a dark
sacrament straining for
the light of Easter morning.

Top image credit:
Christ Embracing Saint Bernard” by Francisco Ribalta with verses from “A Hymn to the Divine Yearning” by John Love. Created by John Love.

This post is part of the Queer Christ series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others.

Qspirit.net presents the Jesus in Love Blog on LGBTQ spirituality.

Kittredge Cherry

Kittredge Cherry

Founder at Q Spirit
Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian Christian author who writes regularly about LGBTQ spirituality.She holds degrees in religion, journalism and art history.She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its national ecumenical officer, advocating for LGBTQ rights at the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches.
Kittredge Cherry