Streams of Imagination

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The darkened clouds build and rise quickly and quietly, the rain gathers and gently drops, the waters combine, gather more and more speed and flow toward their destination.

Childhood streams of imagination become adolescent rivers flooded by adult responsibilities and rush on to repositories of wisdom.

A great lake begun by glacial dreams, created by life experiences, unique storms, and glorious memories reveals vivid colors of bluish green, brownish gray, or golden hues depending on the time of day.

Deep and beautiful to behold, birds soar and sing above it, puffy clouds form objects in the sky, and fish leap toward them and splash back down – rippling the water.

All along the shore gnarled weathered trees with strong needles and leaves watch with folded arms as they stand on their deep roots.

The water reflects the past while revealing the future as children laugh and play with rocks, sticks and sand among the sprawling roots and sloping banks – their voices excited and full of wonder.

The sun begins to set, yet lingers long in amusement at the converging streams of imagination, then stops, smiles and winks.

 

The Writer’s Block

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The sidewalks are closed
For some unneeded repair
All traffic has stopped

Utilities off
Nothing is open nearby
No place to buy words

Tired inspiration
No sensory ingestion
There’s nowhere to walk

Stuck, staring at stairs
Old metal ones with wet paint
Gray, like the weather

Cloudy, cold winter
Without the sun, snow or rain
Only a deep blah…

Child of Grace

Merry Christmas! Below is a Christmas Carol I wrote two years ago and thought I would share again.

GraceSyllables

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The angels praised the Child of Grace,
From old, in wonders of glory,
Then they appeared with voices clear,
To tell shepherds their story.
For the Christ, the Lord, He has come,
He has been born in Bethlehem,
O hear! Please hear! This is the One,
This Child is the Son of God.

The shepherds praised the Child of Grace,
When they found Him in a manger,
Then they explained what they had seen,
Words, Mary’s heart would treasure.
His hands, those hands, have weighed mountains,
His voice made stars by the thousands,
O sleep, in peace, dear sleepy One,
This Child is the Son of God.

And now we praise the Child of Grace,
Who grew in strength and wisdom,
His righteousness would be His gift,
To those He came to ransom.
What Grace! This Grace! Death to taste,
On the cross where our sins were placed,
O Praise!…

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Missing Notes

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Missing notes of music,
Rawly played over and over again,
Where elusive sounds turn therapeutic,
And never seem to end.

Concerts before dinner,
Instruments come alive as they are fed,
The beginner’s appetite grows bigger,
For encores before bed.

Living goes on in song,
Jazzy rhythms, soothing ballads when sad,
But all along the missing notes make strong,
The hearts of mom and dad.

Soaring music resounds,
Precisely played, missing the missing notes,
It surrounds, filling house and walls with sound,
And the love it promotes.

Hallways have grown quieter,
But the house still hums mysteriously,
Idle instruments, in dusty silence,
Hold notes in memory.

Behind the lines

I take great joy in listening to my children learn and practice their instruments. This was written about their learning process with the thought that one day the missing notes will be missed.

The Prince & Poetic Effort

I recently completed John Piper’s book, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis (The Swans Are Not Silent). It’s part of The Swans Are Not Silent series and to me this is the best so far. However, I could be a bit biased as this is an area of passion for me, a passion for the Prince of Peace and the poetic effort to see and savor Him, while pointing others to do the same.

In the Introduction, Piper tackles a tremendous question and one of his biggest fears. Does poetic effort contradict Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians  1:17?  In Paul’s writing he says, “I …did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech and wisdom.”  On this topic Piper notes that, “there is a way to speak the gospel — a way of eloquence or cleverness of human wisdom — that nullifies the cross of Christ.”  He states it’s a fearful thing to run the risk of contradicting Scripture, but “the risk is unavoidable” because words are required. Piper writes:

Every person who seeks to commend Christ with words faces this issue. And we cannot do without words in commending Christ. We know him in the words of Scripture, and the Scriptures themselves teach us how indispensable words are in the Christian life.

And we cannot just quote Scripture. We must talk about it. Explain it. Exult in it. Defend it. Commend it. Herald it. Pray it.

Should I do the hard work of thinking about these things but not share it with anyone?

The effort to put the truth of God, and all his ways and works, into fresh language — something that may have never been spoken before — is a way of coming near to God.

He goes on to explain Paul’s writing and gives six reasons for defending poetic effort including examples of the use of poetry in Scripture. He then highlights the different ways Herbert, Whitefield, and Lewis modeled the use of poetic effort in their lives. It’s not just about writing poetry like Herbert did, it includes the preaching of Whitefield and “his God-given oratorical abilities”, and the prose of Lewis, whom Piper, while pointing out their theological differences, calls “a master thinker and master likener — a master of poetic effort in story and essay.”

The theme throughout each of their lives was a poetic effort of seeing and saying things for the glory of God in Christ. We may never see talent like these men again, but we have the same Christ, the same wonder, and various gifts to glorify Him in unique ways. How are you using your gifts and abilities? How can you incorporate poetic effort in service of the Lord?

In the Chapter on George Herbert, Piper writes:

The role of the poet is to be God’s echo. Or God’s secretary. To me, Herbert’s is one of the best descriptions of the Christian poet:  “Secretarie of thy praise.”

O Sacred Providence, who from end to end
Strongly and sweetly movest! shall I write,
And not of thee, through whom my fingers bend
To hold my quill? shall they not do thee right?

Of all the creatures both in the sea and land
Only to Man thou has made known thy wayes,
And put the penne alone into his hand,
And made him Secretarie of thy praise.

(From Herbert’s poem: “Providence”)

So what is poetic effort? Piper explains it several different ways:

Every Christian is called to speak of God’s excellencies.

The effort to say freshly is a way of seeing freshly. The effort to say strikingly is a way of seeing strikingly. The effort to say beautifully is a way of seeing beauty.

The effort to put the glimpse of glory into striking or moving words makes the glimpse grow.

The effort to put the excellencies into worthy words is a way of seeing the worth of the excellencies. The effort to say more about the glory than you have ever said is a way of seeing more than you have ever seen.

Poetic effort is a way — a pervasively biblical way, a historically proven way — of seeing and savoring and showing the glory of God.

Poetic effort is the effort to see and savor and speak of the wonder — the divine glory — that is present everywhere in the world.

…may he grant us a humble, Christ-exalting poetic habit of speaking his wonders…in words of seasonable joyousness, honey sweetness, golden fitness, and gracious saltiness. May he do it so that we ourselves might first taste, then tell.

 

 

Philadelphia

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I walked the city,
With a history of making history,
Declaring the power of pen and parchment,
Where old bricks and mortar,
Meet glass and steel,
And rivers of concrete,
Lead to fountains of love.

I walked the city,
Under gray skies and tall shadows,
Where museums reveal treasures,
Churches chime old hymn tunes,
Bells ring for freedom,
And river bridges lead to,
The Avenue of the Arts.

I walked the city,
Each step an adventure of old and new,
With parallel parked cars,
Red lights, and walk signs,
Markets, and tour guides,
Street vents, and subway trains,
And people on the move, going somewhere – special.

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