Like seed broadcast by a sower’s throw
Are the words which poets scatter around,
And those words, now dormant, will only grow
When received by ears which hear and re-sound
Their meaning, the wonder, through turn of phrase,
By rhyme and cadence, the incantation
Which breaks through as one freed from a maze
Into seeing through imagination.
I see your brow”s furrow; you look again
At these words which the sower flung your way;
As you work your plot, try to comprehend
The worries which germinate through your day.
Stopped in this moment, amazed, you’re the ground
Who sprouts into smile by words which you’ve found.
This sonnet is based on the following passages which tell of the healing of the Gerasene demoniac from Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39, and Matthew 8:28-34. Jesus, having delivered the disciples from the terror of the night storm, arrives on the other side of the Sea of Galilee and is confronted by a demoniac who roams naked among the tombs of his people. The story of the demoniac’s ruin, isolation, and degradation is particularly desperate and sad. His neighbors have given up on either helping or managing the demoniac in his ravings, and he himself is as good as dead, living naked among the tombs. A question provoked by this event is, can there be hope when there is no hope…when one has been given over to demons and death?
Long since, I left my people and my home
Who had long since quit, given up on me
To dwell in undwelling, midst death and bone
Among these tombs by the Galilee.
When he came, I rushed, was all in a rage;
As he called them out, rebuked the unclean,
His call I thought, was back into the cage; Leave me alone! Don’t look! Leave me unseen!
What if we would step out, wait, let him speak;
Let him see our hearts, untie the twisted;
Be bold yet humble, use strength to be weak?
What if in peace, we could just sit and listen?
What if Power came in Peace with Affection
To bring news of coming resurrection?
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Swine Driven into the Sea (Les porcs précipités dans la mer), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 10 3/16 x 6 11/16 in. (25.9 x 17 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.107 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.107_PS1.jpg)
This sonnet is based on Mark 4:35-41 when the disciples and Jesus cross the Sea of Galilee and are caught in a storm. What I imagine confounds the disciples, is that even though he delivers the disciples from the storm he seems indifferent to the threat (these sorts of storms happened and these seasoned fisherman knew it). Even so, Jesus leads them out. Having led them into probable trial, not only does Jesus leave the tiller untended, he falls asleep at the wheel.
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, I wonder how the disciples imagined Jesus’ crucifixion and burial played into the plan of God’s bringing peace? Did he always intend to lead them into the storm? Or did he do so that he might rise when all hope seemed lost and speak, ‘Peace!”
It was because you wanted to that we
Started for the other side that evening–
Crossing at night Galilee’s fitful sea
When the cool of Mt Hermon comes beating.
And as we’d seen a hundred times before:
You lose when caught in the night-storm’s billow;
Reeling in fear, we pulled and pushed to shore
While you slept sound on the tiller’s pillow.
And shouting, Lord! Don’t you care if we die? We did as you asked! Ignored our warnings!
Waking to our fear, he spoke to the sky
Which fell still as a spring Sunday morning.
Who are you that into the storm you lead
Permitting despair, that your friends be freed?
Rise and shine, campers, the Lord has suddenly come to his Temple!
February 2 is Candlemas and is the fortieth day after the church celebrates the birth of Jesus. The event is recorded in Luke 2:22-38, and recounts when Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem and his parents paid the redemption price for a firstborn son (Leviticus 12).
In the United States, the significance of the Lord’s sudden appearing as promised in Malachi 3:1-3 is either lost or ignored much as Jesus was by those in Jerusalem in his day. Instead, on February 2, we mark Groundhog’s Day imagined to be the half way point between the first day of winter and the first day of spring.
Borne in arms to his house as a pilgrim
The Anointed who’ll bear our salvation;
Redeemer redeemed with two young pigeons
For the desire and wealth of the nations.
Suddenly, he comes to those who waited,
The refiner’s fire, promised fuller’s soap;
Simeon and Anna, made young again
Seeing Israel’s consolation and hope.
Lord, in the light of Candlemas I see
In the heart of my own mid-winter way
You gave your wealth, to become poor for me
That I might be young and long for the Day
When the sudden shaking of your revealing
Dashes the proud, but the poor and pierced, healing.
Friends of mine hosted a Robert Burns Night in their home on January 25 in which they served a traditional Scottish dinner with rumbledethumps and bannock and of course the main dish, haggis, which is not actually authentic haggis (because traditional haggis is banned in the United States by the USDA) but is, by all intents and purposes,…haggisy.
A part of every Robert Burns Diner is the recitation of Burn’s poem, “Address to the Haggis,” which I have been reciting constantly for a week, much to my families dismay and amusement.
It probably won’t be too helpful, but you may listen to me attempt to recite the poem via the player below with my humble apologies for butchering the Scots dialect.
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang ‘s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut ye up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
It’s probably more helpful to read a translation which you may find HERE.
This sonnet is from my chapbook collection of poems inspired by the Gospels and is entitled Walking with Jesus. This sonnet is based on Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 6:6-11 when Jesus enters the synagogue and heals the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.
I sat there each Sabbath in that same place
Pitied and lonely with my withered arm;
Friends couldn’t even look me in the face
For them a reason of subtle alarm
That Providence’s purpose and pleasure
Is not easily read or understood:
Why not all judged with the same measure?
Why the wicked thrive though doing no good?
But goodness reached out on this Sabbath day,
Freed me from power’s weighty, with’ring yoke
His question left them with nothing to say
He worked with a word. He healed when he spoke.
To what length will this rabbi stretch out to take,
The broken in arm whom the powerful forsake?
“Fullness” is a poem from my chapbook collection of poems inspired by the Gospels entitled, Walking with Jesus, and this poem is based on Mark 2:23-38 and Luke 6:1-5.
An easy Sabbath walk in the lengthened light
Of evening wading through a sea of wheat,
Which swelled with wind, waving, rolling in flight
Across the field where we gather to meet.
In the cool of the evening out of the heat,
With One who left us hungering for more
Our bellies talk, we pluck the grain and eat
Rub the kernels free on this threshing floor.
We feed on His words, whose grain fills, restores;
Gives life to the hungry, strengthens, and stays
Welcomes the outcast, throws open the door
But offends the proud, sends the full away.
But to us, Sit down, says, You are the blessed Who’ve hungered and thirsted, sought out my rest.