Through a Window

Today’s November Poem a Day prompt is “Window.” In recognition of World Diabetes Day, here his one is in honor of my hero.

Peak through a window
Into the life of my hero,
Who, since the age of seven,
Has had a cellular thirst,
Who has stuck her fingers
So many times
That her fingertips can bleed 
With just a squeeze.

Peak through this window.
What do you see?
I’ll tell you, she
Is one on whom the smile
Has remained
In spite of it all
To this very day.

© Randall Edwards 2021

Say It

The Lord has given you something to say.
Say it. 
That is why He made you—
You and not someone else.
So come to your room. Sit at your desk.
Address the page,
And as you do,
Pray it.
Do not let the censoring voice silence you.
Speak, write of delight; tell your story.
Strain your eyes; fix your mind;
Open your heart to the Glory
That fills everything. 
Hear the music
And sing. 
OR if the page is blank,
And fear follows hard, and you run
Into the cave, dingy and dank,
Stretch out your hand
And with your finger and thumb
Find the gold thread 
And follow.
Listen, He has not left you for dead.
Pour out the sadness, confess the badness
Full and free. Let it go. Shrieve.
And receive the blessing
Then tell.
Tell the truth. That is all you can do.
And wait. Wait again on the hunger
Or wonder to open the door, 
To show you there’s more.
Then come to the room,
Sit at your desk,
Take up your pen,
And say it.

© Randall Edwards 2021

Pet Poem: Leviathan

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.

A Pet Poem: Leviathan
Tied like bait and fastened to a tree
He descended, cast himself to the depths
Of this world’s chaos and calamity,
Sank ‘neath its waves and breathed his last breath.

Swallowed by the gaping mouth of death, 
In the dark of its belly he lay
Until the barbed hook of justice set
On the morning of the third day.

Holding his rope in the beast's jaw fixed fast,
The one who was drowned, went down, arose!
Bursting death’s belly, the scorned and outcast
Led Leviathan out by the nose.

In our loving, Redeemer’s victory, 
The fears we fear, the terrors and threats
Are of no more concern for you and me
Than a bird a young boy might get.
And Leviathan, that dragon of death,
Is led for your girls on a leash like a pet.

© Randall Edwards 2021.

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.

Only Questions

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?
(ESV)

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

I have no answers, Lord,
Only questions.
Like, why come with a storm
Into the chaos of my storm?
How is one to know which is the help,
Which whirlwind is caused by sin,
Which rescue or finish me?
And why have you stood off 
Silently?
I have no answers,
Only questions.

No, I was not there
When you laid the foundation.
It was not by my skill or strength
That it was made square and plumb.
I did not stretch out a line its length
To measure Your wisdom and love.
I did not pour into the earth with my hands
The footing upon which
Every last thing that stands
Now stands.
I did not mark the depth, breadth, and height
Of Your cornerstone’s wisdom.
I did not lay it in place
By it make all true and right.

Nor did I choose the keystone
Which holds the arch, fills the breach,
Holds in place the pillars of sky,
Holds all these things leaning together,
Even the answers just out of reach
As I lean towards You,
One Whom I thought I knew,
One Who is now unknown,
But where else can I go
With my questions?

What was it like
When the morning stars sang
In the first day’s, pre-dawn light?
What was the sound
Of the song which You taught?
Who led the heavenly band?
Who called the contradance
Who led the grand 
March, the real and swing
of the Allemande
Right and left?
How did the cosmos resound
When the sons of God shouted for joy?
What was the noise
When the lifeless void
Gave way to the dawn--
The break of day?
What was that like:
Sound filled with sparks,
When delight became Light?

I only have questions.
Who are you, who now comes
To me in the ruin of ash,
To the dust of the death in which I sit?
What do you know of loss,
What to you did faithfulness cost,
And will I ever see the point of this?

© Randall Edwards 2021

A Golden Shovel: The Sudden Surprise of Joy

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.

Christian Wiman reading his poem, “From a Window”
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.