Blog

‘Til We Forgot

This poem is based on Deuteronomy 8, in which the LORD warns the children of Israel before they enter into the promised land.  They are finishing their 40-year wandering in the wilderness, and they are preparing to cross into Canaan, their land of “milk and honey.”   The warning is that, once they are comfortable, filled, settled, and successful, they might be prone to forget the God Who led them through those harsh days in the wilderness.   And, the record of Scripture indeed bears out that this happened, time and again.

When we who love the LORD walk a particularly painful, rough road, we throw ourselves on His mercy completely.  The third dimensional world fades, and our faith is elevated to heights we may have never before experienced.  These are remarkable times of closeness to our God, as we hang onto Him and only Him through the flood and fire.

But later, when the dust clears, and things get back to normal, our tendency is to forget that Hand that held us through it all.  This poem is a reminder to me not to forget.

It is written in trochaic heptameter (x/x/x/x/x/x/x), with each line split after the fourth trochee.  The form of the poem is ABAB.

 

‘Til We Forgot

. . .  lest when thou hast eaten and art full,  . . .  then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt,  . . .who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents,and scorpions, and drought . . .  

 

It happened by degrees, so slow

As seasons change to years,

We didn’t feel the shift below,

The sliding of the gears.

 

The deprivation once we knew,

The sorrow and the strain,

When nothing in our field of view

Could mitigate the pain,

 

Now gone and, in its stead, a trust

For blessing, favor, grace.

Awakening, we rose from dust

To Eden’s better place.

 

How cautiously we tried to walk,

How tentative our tread,

As those recovering, with shock,

When rising from the dead.

 

But, step by step, our strength returned,

And with it grew our hope.

The locust years behind us, burned,

The future in our scope.

 

Success now stamped our working days

And pleasure marked our path.

Our journey under Heaven’s rays,

No longer marked by Wrath.

 

So time sped by, without much thought

Of skies that once were gray.

‘Til we forgot,  . . . yes, we forgot . . .

Our God of yesterday.

Advertisements

Walk With Me

This is another poem for my husband.  It is written in trochaic heptameter (x/x/x/x/x/x/x), though each line is split after the fourth trochee.  The form of the poem is ABAB.

 

Walk With Me

 

Walk with me, though both of us

May wonder where we go .

Talk with me, explore, discuss

The things we may not know.

 

Sit with me, through anxious hours

Of waiting and of pain.

Stay with me, to share what’s ours

In sunshine and in rain.

 

Look at me and see beyond

What all the world can see.

Touch me, knowing I’ll respond

With warm felicity.

 

Love with me, when times are hard

And laughter wants to die.

Hold my heart with fond regard

More, as the years go by.

 

Walk and talk and sit and stay

And look and touch and love.

With me, make each passing day

Our blessing from above.

 

Kingdom of Heaven: Mustard Seed

This is another poem based on the Kingdom of Heaven parables found in the book of Matthew; this one from Matthew 13:31-32:  “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”  

It’s interesting to me how many of these Kingdom of Heaven parables have a similar theme:  the idea that something very small and easily overlooked could become the greatest thing–that a small amount of leaven could transform a lump of dough; that a hidden treasure in a field could be worth a man’s whole fortune; that the least of seeds could grow quickly into the most notable herb in the garden, large enough to accommodate the birds of the air.

“Kingdom of Heaven: Mustard Seed” is written in iambic trimeter: x/x/x/x, x/x/x/, form ABAB.

Kingdom of Heaven:  Mustard Seed

Unnoticed, small beginnings:

One seed, one Man, one Word,

Become the garden’s winnings,

A lodging for each bird.

 

What started in a manger,

Undignified and small,

Whose ending seemed yet stranger–

The shame, affliction, gall,

 

That least of seeds, ignoble,

Once overlooked, ignored,

Has grown, with impact global:

The Kingdom of our LORD.

Kingdom of Heaven: Things Old and New

This poem is based on another kingdom of Heaven parable from Matthew 13:  “Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.”  

There are many layers to the terms “new” and “old.”  We can think of the Old and New Covenants:  the law as given by Moses, and grace, which came through Jesus Christ.  We can differentiate (as I do here) between old head knowledge and new, fresh heart knowledge.  We can separate the old and new into exegesis: the critical examination of a text, and hermeneutics: the interpretation and application of that text to our lives.

“Kingdom of Heaven:  Things Old and New” is written in iambic heptameter: x/x/x/x/x/x/x/, form AABBCC.  I wrote the poem from the perspective of a scribe, a reader, copier, and teacher of Scripture, who knows the law well, but who also grows to comprehend the kingdom of Heaven.

Kingdom of Heaven:  Things Old and New

 

I was among the learn-ed, but my offerings were bland

To students who had wished to learn, to grow and understand,

But over time the knowledge that was housed inside my head

The history, the dusty page, the list of names, long dead–

It moved into my heart, just bit by bit and line by line,

Until the truths I’d known for years were ultimately mine.

 

Instruction in the kingdom was the catalyst that spurred

My learning to become complete dependence on the Word.

Head knowledge is foundational, the “Old” a teacher brings–

But knowing facts and knowing Life are very diff-rent things.

And since I’ve come to know this Truth within my heart and soul,

I’m offering both Old and New, instruction full and whole.

Kingdom of Heaven: Tares Among the Wheat

In this poem, I explore another of Jesus’ parables from the book of Matthew: the Tares among the Wheat.

The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.  (Matthew 13:24-30)

When the disciples wondered the meaning of the parable, Jesus explained it:   He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;  the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;  and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:37-43)

I think it is interesting that tares (also called darnel, or false wheat) look so similar to wheat until the harvest.  But they are inherently different.  Darnel produces a small black seed that is quite poisonous to humans. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum)  Wheat, on the other hand, is the staff of life.  Yet they grow together.

“Kingdom of Heaven: Tares Among the Wheat” is written iambic heptameter: x/x/x/x/x/x/x/, form AABB.

Kingdom of Heaven:  Tares Among the Wheat

We watched with satisfaction as the first green sprouts appeared.

And waited, so expectant, for each stalk of grain, each beard.

The seed we’d sown, so perfect, incorruptible, pristine,

Would doubtless yield the finest field our crew had ever seen.

.

But time went on and, as our crop grew, each of us could see,

Between maturing heads of grain, a slight discrepancy.

For where the wheat bowed down with fruit, so nourishing and fine,

Another crop stood tall beside, malignant by design.

.

“An enemy hath done this,” so the householder declared

When, crestfallen, we told him that his field had not been spared.

The evil one had come at night, while we were still asleep,

And quickly sown his mischief, undetectable and deep.

.

We hadn’t noticed anything at first; it all looked green,

But now those upright poison tares had marred the perfect scene.

We wondered, “ Should we pluck them out and try to fix the field?”

“Not yet,” he told us, “lest you root up wheat that’s not revealed.

.

“Just let them both stay side by side, together in the ground

Until the harvest; then make sure the noxious tares are bound

And saved in piles for burning; then and only then we’ll mow;

We’ll bind and thresh and store and save the finest seed to sow.”

.

Our crew obeyed the householder’s command when harvest came.

And now, we noticed, tares and wheat looked not at all the same.

The tares were black, so obvious, once harvest had begun–

But all the wheat was golden-white and shining like the sun.

I Think I Like You Better Now

This poem is one I wrote for my husband.  It is written in iambic heptameter: x/x/x/x/x/x/x/, form AABB.

 

I Think I Like You Better Now

 

I think I like you better now; it’s been a little while

Since first you took my breath away with just a passing smile.

When love was fresh and new and fast, before life took its toll–

I think I like you better now, with weathered heart and soul.

 

I think I like you better now than when it just was us,

Before the babies came with all their love and joy and fuss,

When it was husband, wife, alone, who shared each long night through.

I think I like our love stretched thin, for more than me and you.

 

I think I like you better now, a little gray and worn,

A little tired, weary, from the burdens we have borne,

But ready with a smile and touch that leaves me breathless, still–

I think I like you better now; I think I always will.

 

Beatitude #9: When Men Shall Revile You

The final Beatitude in Matthew is longer than the others: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” It is similar to the one right before it: “ Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” except that Jesus clarifies the reason for the potential persecution; it’s not merely for righteousness’ sake–not just for doing good in the world; it’s because we name His Name.

This poem is written in trochaic heptameter: /x/x/x/x/x/x/, form AABB.

“When Men Shall Revile You”

Scorned, derided object of the culture’s rumor mill,

Laughed at, mocked,  and ridiculed and all because you still

Held to One Who holds to you with scarred and nail-pierced hand.

One Who prophesied this persecution for your stand.

 

Yes, you knew that, as His servant, such would be the case,

For your Master, long before you, suffered like disgrace,

And the prophets faced the same mistreatment in their day–

When the world shot messengers for what they came to say.

 

So it’s not surprising when it happens now to you,

That the world should find anathema what you hold true–

Always, it has crucified the ones who love His Name–

Celebrate, rejoice, be glad! when it treats you the same.

 

Beatitude #8: They Which are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake

Lately I have been reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.   It’s not for the faint of heart–or the weak of stomach.  The persecution of so many of the faith since the very beginning gives me pause.  These believers were, like the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, ones “of whom the world was not worthy.”  Their perseverance under trial is a model for those of us today.  We, in America, live mostly persecution-free lives, but there is no guarantee that the norm of today will remain the norm of tomorrow.

So, if or when that persecution comes, let us remember this:  we are blessed, and the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to us!

This next poem is based on that Beatitude: “ Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  It is a four stanza poem, written in trochaic tetrameter: /x/x/x/x, form ABAB.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Beaten and abused, ill-treated,

Though you never gave them cause,

Pushed around, exploited, cheated,

–Not for breaking any laws–

 

Only for the path you followed,

Seeking Truth and giving Grace,

Trusting in that Name, so hallowed,

Glory shining in your face.

 

Righteousness that made them spiteful,

Goodness that brought out their worst,

Now you’ve suffered for what’s rightful,

Like the prophets from the first.

 

Lift your heads up, all afflicted,

Know there comes another day,

When the Kingdom, as predicted

Comes into your hands to stay.

 

 

 

 

 

Beatitude #7: The Peacemakers

The next poem in this cycle of the Beatitudes deals with the saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.”  Peace involves the absence of conflict; it involves calm; agreement between two parties.

The Bible warns in Jeremiah and Ezekiel about those who proclaim peace in order to placate others–when, in fact, there is no peace.

But we also see the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, in Whom ” . . . righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10)  He is the One Who has broken down the barriers between us–the barriers of culture, of position, of color, of gender–and has given each of us “access by one Spirit unto the Father.”  (Ephesians 2:11-22; Galatians 3:28)

We, who know this peace and share it with others,  having our ” feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), are acting on behalf of our Father, just as His Son Jesus did.

“The Peacemakers” is written in trochaic pentameter:  /x/x/x/x/x–three stanzas with the form ABAB.  I chose not to change the rhyme from one stanza to the next as I usually do, keeping the separate stanzas unified within the poem.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

Breaking down the walls that once divided

You from them and each of us from God,

Not like those declaring peace, misguided,

When there is no concord, only fraud–

.

But with Heaven’s righteousness provided,

By the Son, Who spread that peace abroad.

Now no longer Jew or Greek, one-sided,

Locked behind society’s facade,

.

Every wall of difference subsided,

When with Gospel’s peace your feet were shod.

Others heard your message, I know I did–

And thereafter called you “child of God.”

Beatitude #6: The Pure in Heart

Purity has so many facets:  it means free from contamination, morally upright, unmixed with any other substance, clean, clear.  Precious metals are considered pure after they have undergone smelting or refining, when all other metals or non-metallic materials have been removed.  Food is considered pure when it is organic, unadulterated by chemicals and additives.  Air is pure when it is not marred by smog, smoke, or other toxic substances.  Water is pure when it comes, untainted, from the ground, or when it has been treated to remove all contaminants.

So what does it mean for a heart to be pure?  This next Beatitude of Jesus gave me the chance to ponder that, though I’ve really only scratched the surface.  I think, though , that this is one of the most beautiful of the Matthew Beatitudes:  “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  

“The Pure in Heart” is written in dactylic heptameter: /x/x/x/x/x/x/, using the form AAAA, BBBB.

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”

 

Unadulterated, undiluted, clean and clear–

Heart for God and God alone, no other loves come near,

Room for only One consuming Passion, real, sincere,

Waiting for His coming, when the Bridegroom shall appear.

 

All this world’s distractions, the pursuits that once you knew

Pale beside the One Who died and rose again for you.

Now your heart and mind are single, and your eye is too.

And one day you’ll see Him face to face, the purest View.