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

The World

The World

I’ve spent a couple of days walking around my small town. I’ve had opportunity to explore a bit and move at a pace which has allowed me to notice more. What has struck me is the amount of roadside trash that accumulates especially over the winter and the lack of sidewalks. Granted our town is putting more into sidewalks, but it is clear that the world we live in was not made for walking.

You’d think this world was made for cars
That we weren’t made for walking far
Just rolling o’er asphalt and tar.
This world was made for cars.

You’d think this world was made for roads
The arteries which pump the loads
Of stuff whose weight each mile erodes.
This world was made for roads.

You’d think this world was made for trash—
Styrofoam cups, cigar butts and ash,
Or emptied bottles of malt and mash.
This world was made for trash.

You’d think the roads were made for trucks
The big-boxed beast which run amuck,
Run me down for some company’s bucks.
The roads were made for trucks.

You’d think the world was made for stores
The brothels of consumption’s whores
Who sell to johns who always want more.
The world was made for stores.

Once this world was full of trees
Her meadow’s flowers kissed by bees
Where sunlit leaves danced in the breeze.
This world was full of trees.

But now in her forest full of birds
Comes a whispered threat a frightful word,
The howl of a wolf the peace disturbs
Her forest full of birds.

The wild’s beauty is now dis-graced
Is tooth and claw, an unkind face
Where what one needs is kindness, grace.
Beauty is now dis-graced.

Once, kind it was, this world of life,
But death came in and with his knife
Cut with sickness and stabbed with strife;
Once kind, this world of life.

This world, God made for you and me
But from Him in cars to stores we flee
Fast along ways that we call free.

© Randall Edwards 2019.

Legion

Legion

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?

© Randy 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 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)

Waking to Our Fear

Waking to Our Fear

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?

© Randy Edwards 2016
This sonnet is for Christ’s church and is included my collection of poems, Walking with Jesus. 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: Gustave Dore

O Oriens

O Oriens

December 21st marks the winter solstice and the accompanying antiphon is appropriately, O Oriens or O Dayspring. The antiphon reads,

O Dayspring splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The prayer finds its inspiration in several Bible passages:

Isaiah 9:2 The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
Malachi 4:2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
Luke 1:76-79 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Here’s a sonnet for the antiphon.

Turned west, this sunset of humanity
Denies the dusk of death’s looming shadow.
Reviles the real as some profanity
Which pilfers profit and ruins workflow.

O Sun of Righteousness, make right and shine
On prisoners who dwell in dark dungeons,
On the worried who’s weeds choke and entwine,
And the pharisee who can’t see his sin.

O Dayspring, shine, flood our grey town in light
Drive back the darkness in which lurks our fears.
Dawn! Flood! Arise! Illuminate our night!
Speak tender mercies, wipe away our tears.

When with healing wings the Sun rise on all,
We bound as joyful calves from winter’s stall.

© Randy 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.
photo: Randy Edwards, sunrise Cherry Grove, SC

O Clavis II

O Clavis II

The Great O Antiphon for December 20 is O Clavis. The text of which reads,

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The scriptural allusions in the prayer can be found in the following passages:

Isaiah. 22:22:” I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Revelation 3:7   “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.”

O Key of David, set my bound will free;
Unlock the door, that I may walk your way—
Cheerful, resolved, with bright alacrity
To step from the shadows into the day.

Rise! Ride your chariot, your courses run,
Rain down truth, pierce with your arrows of light;
Shine bright O Clavis, as the noonday sun!
Deliver me from death, dis-spell the night.

For resentment has rusted my hard heart–
The spring is broken, will not free the latch;
Use your key to loose, use your locksmith’s art
To turn the bolt, spring the pins, free the catch.

I behold a door hung, see his pierced side,
And the Key turns my heart, enters, abides.

© Randy Edwards 2018
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: from The Queen Mary Apocalypse, England (London or East Anglia), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Royal 19 B. xv, f. 38v

What Hope?

What Hope?

This sonnet is based on Jeremiah 32:36-44. The passage is found in a section of Jeremiah called the Book of Consolation. The promises in contrast with the judgment pronounced in the rest of the book seem almost impossible to comprehend. When judgment comes, we make it the final word. We believe that whatever good could come is now lost. The promises in Jeremiah’s Book of Consolation show us that the hope of peace, though impossible for us, is not impossible for God. The blessings which God has promised and planned for his people will not be in spite of their exile, but blessing will be accomplished through their exile.

What hope do you have if you’ve no hope in
Yourself, if you cannot do what is hard,
And though promising, you won’t keep your word,
Nor avoid the near occasions of sin?

What peace can you know if you are driven
Into exile, by sword, disease, famine?
How much worse then, after chasing mammon,
Find what you sought, is to what you’ve been giv’n?

What promise for the future could you dare
To dream if you would not turn from your sin?
If in that lust sacrifice your children
So consumed with desire you did not care?

Is promised hope and peace forever lost
If He who could save, you’ve betrayed and crossed?

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem 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 [Public domain].