Day 4: Transition

(transiens) “passing over or away,” present participle of transire “cross over, go over, pass over, hasten over, pass away,” from trans “across, beyond” (see trans-) + ire “to go” (from PIE root *ei- “to go”). Meaning “passing through a place without staying”

I’m catching up a bit on the November Poem a Day Challenge.

“Transition,” to me, does not sound appealing;
It reminds me of friends who have gone or are leaving,
It reminds me too much of the lingering pain
Of those whom I love and am grieving.

Transition has too often been used to describe
My friends who lie in beds hospitalized,
Whom I visit with, counsel, and pray;
But who in the end, transition and die.

“Transition” speaks of a lightness of being
That life is received not grabbed for keeping,
Is held with palms open till it goes away,
Billows in fullness but like a cloud, fleeting.

I long for the Time when transition goes away
And Time says, No hurry. Have a seat. Stay.

© Randall Edwards 2021.

Too Many

Day 16’s prompt is Too Many. I play around a bit with the meaning.

Too many”
As in there is “also much”
And sometimes there are also “few”
Of which it might be said there are too.

But who
Could say that there are too many
Things to be thankful for?
Too many blessings you’ve let walk through the door?
Too many people who love you, people galore?
Too many that you couldn’t use more?

You are not alone because there are too,
Many people longing for a place like you,
Too many people living afraid that there are too few
Who have room for another friend and who
Don’t have the faith to stick with it through
Thick and thin and to do so with you.

If you think you’re alone, you are not
Cause I am one and we are two,
And there are many more of us too.

© Randall Edwards 2021.

Pass the Piece Discussion

My wife, Jennifer, and I had a lovely discussion with artist Dawn Waters Baker about our Pass the Piece collaborative art project sponsored by Rabbit Room.

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