lenten journal: altar


The Madeleine L’Engle book that has been one of my Lenten companions is called A Stone for a Pillow, and centers around the story of Jacob. As a result, the idea of an altar has been on my mind, which has led me to repeated listening to one of my favorite songs by my friend, Bob Bennett, “Altar in the Field.” It follows my poem.


I was off today,
even though I worked.
I was not myself,
though I was recognized.
I was weary and
restless at the same time;
full of emotion
and searching for words.
I am in the desert,
searching for the stones
we stacked as altars
for days such as these.



  1. Thanks Milton …

    Words & Music: Bob Bennett
    © 1996 Bright Avenue Songs (ASCAP)

    I build an altar in the field
    So I’ll remember
    Back to this time when it’s so real
    That I am loved and not alone
    And if I pass by here again
    I’ll be able to see
    My life was scattered like these stones
    Until the Lord began to gather me
    I build an altar in the field
    So I’ll remember

    I build an altar in this field
    In honor, in memory
    Of the many graces I’ve been shown
    And the ones I’ve yet to see
    And so I leave this symbol
    Fashioned by my hand
    The marker of a love
    That I will never understand
    I leave an altar in the field…

    And when I’m lost inside my sorrow
    Overtaken by my fear
    When I am wandering in this wilderness
    Perhaps the Lord will lead me here
    To this altar in the field
    Where I’ll remember
    Oh, I will remember

    • Bob,

      I wish I had adequate words to tell you how this song has sustained me over many years. The last verse, in particular, speaks to me–once again–in these days. Thank you, my friend.


      • Milton, thank you for reminding me of Bob Bennett’s gifts to us and bringing me to his web and resonating offerings whose images and melodies do sustain us over time. Blessings friend, Suz

  2. I love your poem, Milton, and love Bob bennett’s painting of the word “altar” in his song. I got such a strong visual from it.

  3. One of your best. A beautiful reminder to stack stones along the way so we can return to them when we experience inevitable days when we feel lost. Thank you for sharing your soul and such touching songs. Hugs to you.

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