Selected Poems [#003]

On the last day of the first month of the year.
On a snowy evening.
After some reflections on the burdens of the past week; matters in the political world that have passed, choices that have affected, do affect, and will affect our public and personal lives…

A window to deeper matters.

The Valley of Vision

still

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty
thy glory in my valley.

A. Bennett

 

The pains of injustice, the search for a good and just leader.
For peace.
And to realize that this — all of this — has been in the hearts of the people since… possibly the dawn of time.
We seek a leader who leads in wisdom and justice.
But friends, some have already found Him.
In this world, we’ll be disappointed — no matter our ranking on the Sunshine List, no matter the size of our home, brand of our car, school of our children, whether or not the one we desired comes to power…
They matter, but they can’t bring us lasting happiness.
We’ll keep searching for purpose.
And I promise you; our search will come up empty.
Eventually.
Then what?
Then this.

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6

Until we see everything in and through the light of Jesus, we’re still in the dark.
So come, and find light.
And truly live.

On Mountains.

I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

landscape-mountains-nature-mountain.jpeg

…God guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

—  Psalm 121

(No, it’s not freedom from pain, or loss, or sorrow. But rather, it is a promise of His presence. Power to overcome if you continue on now, and promise of eternal Victory. That…is how we keep walking.)

Selected Poems [#002]

PLACE

On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree

fog

what for
not the fruit

the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted

I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time

with the sun already
going down

and the water
touching its roots

in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing

one by one
over its leaves

— W.S. Merwin

 

 

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” -Greek Proverb.

 

(But higher and farther, still.)

Selected Poems [#001]

ON THE SUBJECT OF POETRY

mill-pond

I do not understand the world, father.
By the millpond at the end of the garden
There is a man who slouches listening
To the wheel revolving in the stream, only
There is no wheel there to revolve.

He sits in the end of March, but he sits also
In the end of the garden; his hands are in
His pockets. It is not expectation
On which he is intent, nor yesterday
To which he listens. It is a wheel turning.

When I speak, father, it is the world
That I must mention. He does not move
His feet nor so much as raise his head
For fear he should disturb the sound he hears
Like a pain without a cry, where he listens.

I do not think I am fond, father,
Of the way in which always before he listens
He prepares himself by listening. It is
Unequal, father, like the reason
For which the wheel turns, though there is no wheel.

I speak of him, father, because he is
There with his hands in his pockets, in the end
Of the garden listening to the turning
Wheel that is not there, but it is the world,
Father, that I do not understand.

— W.S. Merwin

(And so, we write.)

Silence.

Silence. 
It always seems to be an afterthought dripping with regret.

The predetermined response that became overridden by pride.
And the afterthought, always: Wisdom would have been found in your silence.

dia.jpg

Did you speak to justify yourself?
Did your words edify?
Was there love? 

Words, and the folly they carry.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:3, 9-10, 21)

Anything less than love will not do.
It will not do, because it will not last.

Sincerity for Truth.
(Build with gold, silver, and precious stones. This and only this.)

 

A lifelong process of refining.
A work in-progress.
Thank you for your patience. 

Where were you? (Evidence)

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 

scuptor

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

…The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment.
… Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

 

Then Job replied to the Lord:
I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

(Job 38-42)

 

 

The world is filled with evidence of You.
They speak of Your Unchanging character.
Of wisdom and justice.

‘My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.

As Your evidence speaks, let me learn wisdom in silence.
In Your silence, help me to know that this, too, is an answer.
Teach me to see as You do.
Help me see You.

Life and the Law. (Because He lives.)


O my God, my soul is troubled within me. So I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the tops of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.  Sea calls to sea at the sound of Your waterfalls. All Your waves have rolled over me. The Lord will send His loving-kindness in the day. And His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.
| Psalm 46:6-9

wave

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! |Romans 7:21-25

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

| Romans 8:5-8; 10;20-21; 31-33; 37-39

This, this is life.

I  can face tomorrow.
Because He Lives.

Even so.

Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

…so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:14-15; 21)

even so.jpg

It finally came. The umbrellas set up for our protection were not enough to withstand the downpour. Their decisions trickled down to us. What do we do now?

Position. Stance. Where do you stand?

Life and death. Choice.

Father, teach us how to keep walking on the narrow road. Show us that You have victory over opposition. Show us how to walk, and how to stand.

Amen.