I’ve been here before
The world is sprawling around
The rush of water forcing its way
Down, around, along the ground
Inland waves sweep you off your feet
Fear of loss, and helplessness
Feeling too paralyzed to go outside.
Familiar is the feeling when I choke
A shame, a stifling of the breathing life
Situations feel insurmountable
Everything beyond my reach from my unsure footing
Each victory seems one stroke against the tide
Catastrophe feels bigger than reality
I wish I could run and hide myself somewhere.
This is what I have always known
The storm, the shame they have an eye.
One is the calm around which the winds rage
The other is that body’s light, I evade to the floor.
The fear to surge through the fiercest tempest
Only to let the ferocity shatter my frailty
Venturing to enter that gaze safely
Elihu told Job that God was here
Our heart meandering knows this home.
The screaming winds guard this safe place.
The place only the humble seek unswervingly.
As shame gives up the last ounce of covering
Naked and vulnerable just I alone remain
Staring into His gentle clear blue sky.
Ordering all powerfully
Present within our midst.
Testing the heart
I’ve been here before
The world is sprawling around
The rush of water forcing its way
Down around, all over the ground
I will wait here with Him safely
His presence my security
His eye, my soul’s calm.
Don’t start talking beside the flower
Discussing its hue and classification.
That is description!
Don’t just let the smell be nosed
And tell people how fragrant it is.
That is reporting!
Don’t just finger its petals and thorns
And explain the touch of soft and sharp
That is informing!
You are not yet small enough
To know the flower properly yet
You are still outside.
Like the bee, lowly and industrious
Drawn by the sight, smell, and feel
You are in need.
Wanting life for heart and home,
You sink beneath the pedal’s crown
You seek the source.
The hidden warmth, the ever-present aroma
Of the sweetest secret nectar of Life
Now, you are before Him.
There is a bride
Her under-developed body
Is cold, weak, shoddy
From lack of Spirit’s animation
Her imbecile consciousness
Is slowed by dimming influence
From lack of Spirit’s illumination
Her frame too frail
To through travail
Give birth to Spirit’s progeny
Her heart cringing fear
She curls up to look “in here.”
Closed up to the Spirit’s guidance
Clothed in dirt
Worms her dessert
Mixing sin with Spirit’s holiness
Where’s her father?
Where’s a lover to romance?
Where’s a coach, trainer, or brother?
Where’s the Savior?
Here comes a minstrel
His song is sweet,
Her ears receive
Her mind perceives
Her heart conceives
Her body breathes.
Then comes a play mate
His games are fun
Her feet can run
Her eyes see sun
Her heart has won
Her chains undone
Then comes a father
His name is hers
His words she heeds
His strength she needs
Her mind he feeds
Her heart he kneads.
Then comes a lover
He gives up Himself.
Her face beams
Her eye gleams
She races streams
Her heart sings.
Then the Spirit and the Bride say:
Hearts harden under dull ears
And dim eyes
The eyes and the ears are purposed
To explore the very nature of God
Visible to us and audible to us
During this short life we have on earth.
“The eye is never satisfied with seeing”
“Nor the ear with hearing.”
“Rivers running endless to the sea,” the preacher says.
So how can our eyes and ears adequately explore
This very nature of God visible to us
Even though it is spiritual eternity in pragmatic time?
Well, perhaps one way is to avoid the trap
Of the insatiability of the eye.
The eye in our technological society
Has more than enough to see in picture and video
The ears are deafened by the machinistic murmurings
Of everything man has made incessantly drumming.
And somewhere the simplicity of God’s nature
Is lost to a thick and overpowering web of Man’s devices
Noise and flash,
Song and dance,
Light and music—
Are not all of these things the diet of our eyes and ears?
A famine! A Great famine! Devestating and ruthless!
Storm-forced winds tear away all peaceful stillness
The glaring desert sun scorches the bare ground.
The rain is not permitted enough time to gather
The ground is cracked and dry.
The seeds within wait to be sprouted by just one word from the Lord.
A single drop of His truth
To cool the burning thirst of our souls—
A quiet whispered hush
In which veracity can settle—
One candle in the darkness
When all pseudo-lights are extinguished.
Pray the Lord of the Harvest
Send the rain that brings real life.
Clear the ground of its towers of Babel.
Let the eyes close in sleep and wait til morning.
And then, once you’ve tasted of the voice of Heaven.
Do not forget He who speaks and shows Himself to you every day
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, and call on Him while He is near.”
I like the smell of a shotgun shell
Right after it is fired
I like the feel of bedsheet’s peel
When I am feeling tired
I like the sight of warm sunlight
When I am feeling worried
I like the sound of watered ground
When feet run fast and hurried.
I like the taste of tomato paste
When on the cheese-stuffed crust
I like the song that rights all wrong
When I just wait in trust
I like the knowing of all that’s growing
When I look with peering mind
I like the being of all that’s freeing
When I choose to be kind.
And a musical staff for an epitaph
When my opus must be signed.
The problem isn’t God’s willingness to teach
It’s our willingness to learn.
No one wants a course in suffering.
No one wants a diet of hunger.
No one wants a hard road of obedience.
No one wants the hill of difficulty
No one wants the splintery cross on their back
Only to be suffocated when you have carried it long enough.
No one wants to learn humility or compassion
The fear of the Lord or the depravity of his own soul.
No one would be utterly dependent on God
Knowing that God is not subject to our fleshly wants.
No one wants to give up everything to have nothing but God.
No one wants to leave behind their job,
Their home, their family, their hobbies,
Their possessions, their favorite things,
So that all they have is a heart to know God alone.
No one wants to pay the price to know God.
No one wants to forgo opportunity for the necessity of waiting.
No one wants to cease from their work
Until God Himself arises to work through them.
How endless, yet how tireless His search
For just one with a heart to know him!
The one to whom the Son wishes to show Him.
Mark the man of mean estate
Who holds for sin that powerful hate
And bears the scars of loss and shame
So not in vain He can bear His name.
For such a price, God can be known,
For such a cost, Christ’s pain is shown.
And only to the fire-purged heart
Will God His glorious life impart.
~It’s so hard to see in this place.
So deprived of even warmth as a comfort.
Nowhere to hide from the loneliness inside
The soft, cushy beddings beneath me beat me up.
This irritating, grating, infernal thing.
It won’t let go, and deeply I am suffering.
Keeping tender so life can keep me well-rounded
Or hardening myself and becoming a less beautiful thing.
This insignificant, minuscule granule–
This meager task I am given to do, bearing up under life’s weight
Around me the ocean of political and circumstantial upheavals swirls by,
Toying with my shy shell like one of an angry child’s legos.
It is endless, futile, like the sun’s faint glow which doesn’t warm me here.
My fists may clench like my teeth, unwilling to swallow the silt life thrusts me into
But anything kept in my fist will escape the moment my pearl sees the sun
That day when my tired muscles shall give out,
Whether by the prying knife, the ravenous creature, or the cruel, stony washboard of life
Eventually my deeply and closely guarded treasure will emerge
And through sifting be surfaced to be found by the Merchant.
May He find a pearl of great price.
~Inspired by T. Austin-Spark’s sermon, “A Pearl of Great Price.”
All feels lost
Warmth is steady
Clouds raging linger
Pyres point the finger
Please dull the stinger
Storms are slackening
Fires are blackening
Soul is flattening
Hush! Little wind and be calm
Brush! Feed the fire and keep warm
Thrush! Shells crush, but do no harm
Sea of glass as flat as a plate
Soft embers blown by love not hate
The strength of words now marked in slate
This weight, a sandbag, an undertow.
My heart is thinned by a marker stone.
A cold white stone on living grass
Black arrow etched in distance past
The grim sight gives the traveler’s stead
Ability to decide if its ready
To take the path he journeys on
Or rest in pasture’s green warm song
But city’s distance furrows his brow
His character is not in this wasteland sown
Birds pluck the shelled life untold
From gutter’s refuse, from cracks in boulders
How weighty on his thoughts that rock
That monument to what lies locked
Behind the wall of city dweller’s face
Where Devil and Angel wings are traced.
What wealth the poor are beaten to take
On what poverty the rich have all things staked
Forbearing all this with a heavy heart
His tired feet have sorely smarted
A friend passed this way once before
If only he had not swung so loosely his sword
That his restructured and suggested way
Be hollowed out down the highwayman’s main.
Danger crouching in every shifting dark
Wherein this flattened warrior shaves with sparks
The blade which leaves its scabbard clean
But heavy in the arm the mother weans.
Such steps he takes collapses him despondent
His map suddenly seems of no assistance.
The mile marker helpful for the length
Does not reach into limbs of lead to strengthen.
Broad ways lose many progressions each day.
Only marked paths reach a safe place.
Returning from the desolate wild land
Where his fingers came to clutch the Father’s hands
Finds a quiet soberness in face once glad
To tell his tale in the presence of all lads.
The reason: by this tombstone, he is low.
And feels the greatest distance from his home.
Earth groans– the roots of oak trees find them out
~ In secret seeking cool sustaining streams
The air feels thin while splitting on the flout
~ A piercing cry of music from my dreams
How old the marrow grows in once strong arms
~ Anticipating touch without remorse
Still waiting for beloved tender warmth
~ Returning swift received without recourse
Two dandelions blown in stormy breeze
~ Are stripped of new beginnings as they wilt
Believing sure their children earth will seize
~ Creative soil unseen new lives rebuilt
So short cruel time to sever love from love
~ Its wound agape awaits the Gard’ners glove