The prompt for today’s, November Poem a Day Challenge is “a pet poem.”
I’ve been working through the book of Job, and this passage caught my attention. In the Lord’s final words to Job, the Lord addresses the monsters of the world which Job has faced. These monsters are imagined and embodied in the figures of Behemoth and Leviathan. The Lord shows to Job something of his own purposes for the two. After Eric Ortland’s commentary, Piercing Leviathan, only such a revelation, I think, would warrant Job’s response when he speaks of those things “too wonderful for me, which I did not understand” (Job 42:3).
Job 41:1-5 reads,
“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he make many pleas to you?
Will he speak to you soft words?
Will he make a covenant with you
to take him for your servant forever?
Will you play with him as with a bird,
or will you put him on a leash for your girls?"
It is a striking picture. The Lord promises to subdue Leviathan and to make him no more harmless than a house pet. And so, Leviathan is the subject of my pet. You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.
The artwork is available via Wikimedia Commons which notes that the image is, God fishing Leviathan, using Jesus Christ’s human nature as bait. Jesus is depicted crucified, at the bottom of a w:Jesse Tree. Miniature from Hortus deliciarum. between 1167 and 1185. w:Herrad of Landsberg. I think it’s pretty cool that the metaphor and imagery which I imagined was captured 800 years earlier at least by a 12th Century Abbess. Hope I get to meet her someday.
After this year’s Hutchmoot Homebound, Rabbit Room‘s online conference, an opportunity was offered to participate in a collaborative art project called Pass the Piece. The project randomly pairs two artist. One begins a piece of artwork and sends it to the second artist to complete. I received a piece from artist Dawn Waters Baker titled “Living in the Land of Uz,” and I responded to her piece which you can view and read more about HERE.
Just this week, I sent my Pass the Piece artwork to a visual artist who works with a variety of mediums. A dear and patient friend with just the right tools has helped me to create something to serve as a palette of sorts upon which my friend also engraved a poem I wrote which serves as my part of this piece. (Thank you Rick!) I do hope that artist to whom I’ve sent my piece can work with it. I can’t wait to see what she does with it.
It may be no surprise to those in the congregation I pastor, but I’ve based my poem on Job which has been the subject of sermon series as of late. Job is a book with which I have had a familiarity, but it, just like suffering in general, is not something I can readily get my head around. I think I’ve gotten a better handle on Job, and I hope I have a more honest and faithful and hopeful understanding of suffering. The poem I wrote is based on Job 38:1-7 which reads,
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?.
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.
The Day Five poem prompt was to write a poem using the form of the Golden Shovel. I chose Christian Wiman’s poem, “From a Window” as the source for my golden shovel. You may read Christian Wiman’s poem HERE, and you may listen to him read it below. My poem based on his below that and is entitled, The Sudden Surprise of Joy.
Lying in a hospital bed fearing the incurable,
A diagnosis of terminal illness and
Facing that future unbelieving,
I cried out for healing. But not believing in
God or gods or doctors or any
Thing but the awful truth
That there was nothing more but
To face death and die. The
Bitterness of that truth
Drove out all the happiness of
Living, leaving only the grieving.
Broken to pieces on a mechanical bed, I
Looked out the window and saw
There in the winter sun, bright and bare, a
Dormant maple tree
And something more inside
It filled my vision and grew as from within— a
Tree within a tree.
And then I saw it rise,
Saw it roll kaleidoscopically
Colored shapes fluttered as
Though the tree were alive, as if
Spring had sprung and flung the
Living feathered leaves
Merely for the beauty or for me who had
Only thought himself good as dead but was now livelier
As the sudden surprise of joy dispelled the ghosts.