Conversatio Divina

Part 1 of 2

Championing Goodness in a Broken World

Ilana Baer

01.  Poem 1: Belief


Not swallowed all at once,
but sipped, set down, taken up again.

Not a transparent vessel,
but the lifting of a lid.

What reaches the tongue and the belly;
what recalls a future brew.

Not just how the tea grows strong,
but how leaf-like the leaves become.


Sustaining Connections:

  • Ask young people how they feel about their stage of their journey of faith
  • Assure them it’s normal to have unanswered questions
  • Share your experience without packaging triumphs neatly

02.  Poem 2: The Reluctant Saints

The Reluctant Saints

Not that we’ll find any miracles
when we clamber down the barnacled shoals
except prickled urchins, salty fissures,
a pebble the color of your sweater.

Nothing for it but to shiver
the diamonds from rain-tipped saplings,
to wade through licorice bushes
plugged with squelchy frog-joy.

Or we’ll make do with watching
clouds on atmospheric errands
before we catalog
the horizon’s hundred reds.

We’ll coax blundered bees home, I guess,
then stare at the magnolias
until their latticed knobs
convince us, convict us, or both.

We never wanted to stand in exhilarated gales,
never sought a blackberry benediction,
but here we are, stained and disheveled:
nothing for it but wonder.


Sustaining Connections:

  • Invite young people to participate in spiritual disciplines
  • Ask about spiritual high, low, and plateau moments
  • Discuss ways to embrace or reframe experiences that seem stagnant or average in view of God’s great calling.

03.  Poem 3: Sonnet for Escapists

Sonnet for Escapists

Perhaps the wardrobe door will never open.
Perhaps the rabbit hole is just a sewer.
As painful as it is to put your hope in
a dream, it’s just as painful not to, or
to see a fantasy be rendered farce.
I know why you’ve been running from this life.
The vengeful rulers’ tools—the lie, the knife—
make even replicas of goodness scarce.
But listen: any beauty you discover
is native here, not just a counterpart.
These splendors seen appoint you guardian,
their propagator and their champion.
Are they not tributaries of the river
that carved the yawning canyon in your heart?


Sustaining Connections:

  • Listen to how young people feel about the world they are inheriting
  • Share your experiences of hope and despair
  • Invite them to participate in celebrating beauty and caring for the marginalized


Ilana Baer is a poet and teacher who writes about the intersection of the ordinary and the divine. She is an alumna of Westmont College and the Martin Institute’s Resident Chaplaincy program. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with what some have called “too many books.”