A Hymn for Easter Monday

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Happy Easter Monday!  I wrote this hymn-ish thing over the past couple days, and I wanted to share it with you — because Christ is risen!  ❤


In the dark and still, a woman,

Laden down with myrrh and grief,

Turns her back to hints of sunrise

And stares ahead in disbelief.

Oh, where is He by evil slain?

Come and see where He has lain!

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That, the stone that barred His graveside,

Hedged around with guards and seal —

That which no man dared to move is

Rolled away to there reveal

The haunt of death that fought in vain.

Come and see where He has lain!

Why do you seek for His body?

Conq’ring kings are not in graves!

In this tomb is left, defeated,

Only rags that bound His face.

Hail the Christ Who is Death’s bane!

Come and see where He has lain!

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You who stand in wonder, awestruck

At this cave that could not win,

Know your Lord is but the firstfruits

Of those who rise to life again —

He leads His ransomed in His train.

Come and see where He has lain!

Here I stand, His ransomed captive,

Bound to Him, bought by His blood,

Freed from Sin, my former master,

Freed to follow where Christ led.

Here, I glory in His reign —

Come and see where He has lain!

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NaPoWriMo// holy week

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This week, I’ve gotten to theme some of my poetry around that week 2,000 years ago that rocked the entire cosmos — the week Jesus died.

//day 9// triumphal entry

The day the king arrived,
The crowds burst forth in cheers —
Here was he who’d save them from
Their iron-fisted fears!

Hearts stirred thick with hope;
Lips broke forth with song;
Nothing could restrain the cries
As the rider came along.

Astride the beast, a man
Who brought the dead to life —
Could he be the promised one
Who’d crush the Roman might?

Hosanna, king who comes!
Oh save us, you who ride!
Conquer the black foe who has
Our heartland occupied!

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//day 10// clearing the temple

The still before the storm
Came the night before.
Now tables hit the floor
Beneath His mighty arm.

The coins and creatures sprawl,
The temple-market closed,
The den of thieves exposed
By the fearsome God of all.

//day 13// the last supper
— a Petrarchan sonnet

{It Was Night.}

Around the table, thirteen men gathered
To celebrate a feast of life and death.
The lamb had died that men might draw their breath
A thousand years ago, but now it matter’d
More than escaping Death’s dark blade that once.
Unlike all other nights, unlike that blood
That dried, this blood is life, this flesh is food;
This is no wool-curled sheep, but Heaven’s Prince;

He rescues not a nation, but a race;
The sacrifice is not for once, but all;
If those twelve men had known their master’s face
Would bear the death and curse of Adam’s fall,
They would have trembled at the hope fulfilled,
For yet redemption’s path was steeped in red.

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//day 14// the crucifixion

A ball is spinning blue and black,
a globe shrouded
in darkness,
as the Lord
Who made it
is rent —
body from soul —
and shrouded
in the heart
of the earth.

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NaPoWriMo 2017! // week 1

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Hello!  I haven’t posted in a long time, and I apologize.  College has been keeping me busy!  But I am doing National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) again this year — and this time in April!  

What does that mean?  It means that I am writing a poem a day for 30 days throughout the month of April.  It means I have to write, I have write more or less consistently, and I have train myself to look at the world around me as a poem waiting for ink.

These first several days have been hard.  Not hard because I don’t like words or poetry, but hard just because time is a real factor in productivity.  I’ve written some stuff I like, and some stuff that is just about how hard it is to write poems when I’m tired.

But I wanted to share a few of my poems from my first week with you — not because they’re all wonderful (I am very intentionally excluding a few 😉 ), but because I want to share some of my joy in word-smithing with you, and because I really want to know what you think!  


//day 1//  feeling inspired by the first day of NaPoWriMo

I want to write of bards and kings,
To tell the tales a poet sings,
To spill black ink in colors bright,
To spew forth stars into the night.
My heart could find its sun-splashed sea
And dance in telling what could be.

My window shows me other truth,
And bare brown branches wave as proof
That something that should be is not.
That ink I spill, my tears will blot.

I try to tell my tales of glory
And find they cannot hold the story.
The things I weave can’t tell all told;
My fingers cannot hold the world

I can’t make sense of all I see,
Caught in the tale surrounding me.
But what if all there is to show
Isn’t all there is to know,
And only an eternal mind
Can tell the tale I yearn to find?

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//day 3//  a less-inspired haiku

someday I will write a poem
before the dark
decrees my bedtime.

//day 4//  looking at the stars outside my window

A star is a promise.

It always was,
it always is
it always will be —
–  to mark seasons,
–  to mark promises,
 to mark generations,
 to mark the king,
 to mark the sunrise,
that will come.

And so we do not watch
–  for nothing.
We do not hope in black.

Our very darkness is plotted with points.

Our chart of the heavens
is studded with signs
of the promise
of morning.

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//day 6//  written on a wuthering night

Wind rushes past my window,
Itself a living thing,
An entity I cannot catch
Or hold its soaring wing.
My fingers cannot get a grip
Or tell from where it came;
It’s mystery and majesty —
It’s glory — is my shame.

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What kind of poetry do you like to read — long, short, free verse, rhyming?  Are you doing NaPoWriMo?  Tell me!

Sometimes My Heart Can Feel the Gale

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope your 2017 is starting well — and maybe warmly?  Last week here, the parking lots were paved in patches of ice.  This weekend, it’s been in the 50’s.  A welcome change, but I don’t know what to make of the weather.  I don’t know the weather knows what to make of itself.  😛

During the summer, I mentioned that I had been inspired by my adventures in England to try writing a poem with more of a traditional structure.

{the history}

I was especially inspired by visiting the hometown of William Cowper….

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William Cowper was a friend of John Newton (pastor and writer of ‘Amazing Grace’), and he also poetry and hymns, including ‘God Moves In a Mysterious Way’. Cowper struggled with depression all his life, and the last poem he wrote before he died was called wp-1484535353105.jpgThe Castaway‘.

‘The Castaway’ was inspired by the true story of a ship caught in a storm. One man fell overboard in the tempest, and barely caught hold of one of the ropes. For a whole hour, he managed to hang on, but finally, the crew realized there was no way they could save him.  The ship would sink unless they sailed on without him, and they had to make the choice to cut the rope he was clinging to and let him drown. Understandably, Cowper was shaken.

The final stanza of Cowper’s poem is probably the most famous.  [You may recognize the quote from the 1995 Sense and Sensibility. (; ]

“No voice divine the storm allay’d,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch’d from all effectual aid,
We perish’d, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelm’d in deeper gulfs than he.”

{the poem}

When I heard the story — and Cowper’s reaction — it shook me a little, too.

In response, I wrote this is a hymn-ish poem. It’s been through a few drafts due to some helpful critiques, and I’m not sure it’s settled all the way, but here goes….

So many troubles, Lord, beset,
And darkness clouds the sky!
Sometimes my heart can feel the gale
That makes the sunlight fly.

What then am I? A ragged sail
Held on by weathered ropes,
Helpless to stop the tow’ring waves
That threaten all my hopes.

Each way I look, there’s terror still.
How can I hope to win?
For at the heart of each black cloud
Is blacker death and sin.

And worse yet still, in all these clouds,
I see my own heart shown.
Can any man expect else but
To perish, each alone?

Yet only when my own rope snaps
And nothing else can save,
Then do I marvel at the One
Who rules both wind and wave.

What other ruler with such pow’r
Gave of himself to die
And let his blood appease the waves
Of fury from on high?

And in Your death you conquered all –
These angry worlds You stilled –
The storm without, the storm within.
The triumph You fulfilled!

Searching and Prophecy

This afternoon, the house is quiet.  Siblings and parents are either resting or doing something quiet, and bustle of people and plans is temporarily suspended.  We put the Christmas tree in its corner this morning before church (decorating to come later tonight), and it gives a festive grace to whole main room with its soft greenness from the outside world.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  I love Advent.  I love candlelight in the darkness that comes early.  I love gathering together as a family to remember why this season is different than all others and why we have a hope that is different from all others.  ‘Advent’ means ‘coming’, and I love gathering together to be reminded of how wondrous and how pivotal was the coming of Christ.img_20161127_213042671.jpg

But right now, in the quietness, I am still trying to remind myself that this season is a season of celebration and of prophecies filled full.

The first Sunday of Advent is always right after Thanksgiving weekend at the end of November, and I think it always comes on the heels of a month of searching.  All year round, we are searching for fulfillment and joy, yes, but November seems to highlight the struggles of our searching.  Election Day came and answered the question we had been wondering for the past 4 years, but no matter who I did or didn’t want to win, I’m left a little disappointed.  I’ve been scrambling to get school done in between traveling out of town and relatives coming in town.  Thanksgiving came, and I had a wonderful break from school and time to rest and celebrate, but any holiday brings unmet expectations, and every holiday comes to an end and leaves you back in the day-to-day.  I look back at my week and wish I had been able to get something more productive done.

It is a time I see how much I have to be grateful for, and yet am left seeing once again the truth I often try to ignore — that these things around me always leave me a little disappointed.  I’m left realizing that the search isn’t over, and that what I thought I had found isn’t really what I was looking for.

The first of the four Advent candles is the prophets’ candle, and it reminds us of the prophets who told us that Jesus would come.  They prophesied of a Messiah, an Anointed One, a King who would make the world right.  Isaiah says:

But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. …

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given….
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Why does he describe something that sounds so perfect?  Why tell of a thing we cannot achieve?  Of something it seems we cannot find no matter how much we search?

C.S. Lewis wrote this about searching: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

A prophecy of a Messiah is a reminder that there is a reason my searching turns up short. But it tells me that what I am looking for is not in this sin-stained world.

Instead, it tells me that I am not longing for something that doesn’t exist.

It points me back to the core of who I was created to be: a human being made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  It tells me that I am no fool to hunger for something beautiful and good, for joy and satisfaction and peace on this violent earth.  The prophets call me to see that even in a land of darkness, the light has shone.  That is something to celebrate.

The Messiah has come.

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