Waking to Our Fear

Waking to Our Fear

A friend reminded me that today is World Poetry Day, and so I am posting one which I continue to re-work but is based on a scene from Mark’s gospel which continues to both mystify and encourage me.

One night while crossing the Sea of Galilee, the disciples find their boat foundering in one of the severe storms which frequents the Sea of Galilee when the cool air from Mount Hermon rushes down its slopes in the sea’s valley and the warm air rises. Mark 4:35-41 reads,

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

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

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 Mount 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?

© Randall Edwards 2016
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Sleeping During the Tempest (Jésus dormant pendant la tempête), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 5 1/2 x 7 11/16 in. (14 x 19.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.101 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.101_PS2.jpg)

Your King Comes

Your King Comes

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and marks the beginning of Passion Week. Palm Sunday remembers Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem when the procession of his followers waved palm branches and cried, “Hosanna, son of David!”

The processional Psalm 118:25-26 which is being chanted by the crowd along with the images of Solomon’s procession after being declared king by King David and the procession of the Maccabees after the defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes become the imaginative fuel for the moment: Israel’s king and deliver has arrived! And even as the throng processes, in the temple the worship leaders are chanting Psalm 24. In five days the crowds would be shouting other words. This sonnet is based on Mark 11:1-11. 

Behold! your king comes, O Jerusalem
Midst the festal throng, waving palms and praise;
“Son of David!” you cry in unison
Behold your king, with voice Hosannas raise!

This is the sudden coming. Now, the hour;
He rides a donkey’s colt; he brings salvation;
No longer secret but coming in pow’r
To tread his winepress, rescue the nation.

Lift up your heads, O gates! Swing wide, let in
The king who ascends to the Holy Place
The Lamb of God, without blemish or sin
The mighty, strong king of glory and grace

What heart of stone could not shout his renown?
Who seeing disown? Deny him his crown?

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem (Le cortège dans les rues de Jérusalem), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 8 7/8 x 6 15/16 in. (22.5 x 17.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.194 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.194_PS2.jpg)

Who for Love

Who for Love

This sonnet is based on Mark 10:17-22 when a rich young ruler approached Jesus with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The rich young ruler shows an earnestness and a deep feeling about his question and its related concerns. When he meets Jesus he drops to his knees. When he leaves, he goes away sad. There seem to be many contradictions at work within him. If one really has everything, how could they want anything more? If one has done it all, what could be done for them? And what can you receive with hands that are already full?

He looked at him and seeing, he loved him–
This man waiting for the answer to come,
This man who hoped in the law of his limbs,
Who held everything, left nothing undone.
But he was undone with the teacher’s word,
“One thing you still lack,” the poor rabbi said,
“Sell all you have–be delivered of your hoard
Make God your only treasure instead.”
In this miserly, moneyed moment of time
His dis-heartened heart chose to trust
Only the good which he could call “mine”.
And he gave himself to that which would rust.
Away in sorrow his heart’s wealth he bore
Empty of the treasure: Who for love became poor.

© Randall Edwards 2016
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Rich Young Man Went Away Sorrowful (Le jeune homme riche s’en alla triste), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 9/16 x 9 9/16 in. (16.7 x 24.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.159 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.159_PS2.jpg)

The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration

This sonnet is based upon Luke 9:28-36 and Mark 9:2-8 which tells of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

On the Mountain’s predawn height, time’s ticked line
Is stretched round upon itself from the thin
Experience of events to entwine
The moment all is new, when we begin.
The Face of Love shines in burning likeness;
His hands clasped in prayer this hour of the turn
T’ward his departure where in that brightness
Two have stepped through time from God’s Mount to learn.
Three others now awake enter the cloud
The disciples hear the Majesty bless
With choosing, loving, and delight enshroud.
Commending they listen, his word possess.
And what of us, shall we enter that ring
Exalt in his Glory, join the dance and sing?

© Randy Edwards 2017.
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: Transfiguration of Christ, Bellini, 1490

Two Blind Men

Two Blind Men

This sonnet is based on Mark 8:22-9:1. Interestingly in the passage there are actually two blind men from Bethsaida for Bethsaida is Peter’s hometown too. The blind man finds his healing in two stages, and Peter too must find his own healing in stages. Both see something, but they do not see everything.

Two blind men of Bethsaida came to see
Jesus. One for healing, from blindness freed
The other came with him whom he believed
Would be King, bring a glory guarantee.

The first when healed saw people as trees
The second, a king, opportunity
For the triumph he saw as his destiny;
Of the two from Bethsaida, only one sees.

But the second will see: the glory cloud,
See his chance to fight, to wield the sword,
Will see the day he denies with three words,
See his Christ’s shame, rejected by the crowd.

This second is healed when he comes to see
The Son of Man as his life-giving tree.

© Randall Edwards, 2019
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

Artwork: Christ and the pauper. Healing of the blind man. 2009. Canvas, oil. 100 x 55. Artist A.N. Mironov. Andrey Mironov [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D