John the Baptist (a poem)

He didn’t see it, but felt it
through the darkness
of his mother’s womb,
the flame that baptized
drawn close enough
to singe his foot,
which caused him to leap.

The wild fire caught
and grew, ruining him
for a life of conformity. 
So he moved to the wilderness
somewhere near the river’s edge
where others were drawn
by the smoldering flame.     

He doused them each with water,
warning them one-by-one
of the fire to come. 

Later, when he leapt
from this world to the next,
leaving his head behind,
he was greeted by the fellowship
of the flame – Isaiah
with his charred black lips,
Miriam who danced
like a flickering wick,
and the others, too many now to name
together they glowed like
so many embers,
lighting the long, dark night.

This post is linked with Playdates with God and Unforced Rhythms.


  1. Hi Kelly ... just read about John the Baptist this morning in my reading of the book of John. To encounter these words here is surely a grace gift. Thank you!

    1. He is such a fierce figure to me, both attractive and repulsing at the same time, a true picture of a life consumed by Christ.

  2. Ooh. I really love the flame reference, embers lighting the night, drawing us near. Very nice. Happy Monday! I'm visiting from unforced rhythms.

  3. I've always love the story of John the Baptist--his total humility. So many cousins strive to outdo the other, but John held his up to each one he touched. We can't be forerunners of Christ but we can be back runners and still hold Jesus up to all we meet. I want to!

    1. Yes, so interesting how their lives parallel and intersect, like those of their mothers.

  4. "The wild fire caught
    and grew, ruining him
    for a life of conformity."
    Ooh, this is so good (all of it). May we all be caught by that wild fire.

  5. Holy Cow, Kelly! This is stunning. And stirring. And such a special gathering of words that together make me want to be touched by this flame. I so glad to be introduced through Unforced Rhythms and look forward to getting to know you better.

    1. Thanks so much, Beth. Yes, I'm grateful to be teaming up with you :)

  6. Beautiful, Kelly. I love this image of John catching fire in utero. Perfectly captured, my friend.

  7. Hi Kelly
    Is it Ok if I use your John the Baptist poem in our parish newsletter?
    Thanks Fr Matthew Jones

    1. I'm sorry I somehow missed this back in December! Yes, please feel free to reuse with attribution, of course.

  8. May I reprint this poem in our church program?
    I would like to give you credit, but I only see the name 'Kelly' here. What is your full name?
    Thank you!