St. Lucy’s Day

St. Lucy’s Day

December 13 is St Lucy’s Day. This sonnet (which is a revised version) reflects on the last week of the darkest days of the year when those days are shortest and the sun is furthest from its place in high summer. The feast of St. Lucy is marked by many traditions, but the Scandinavian tradition of Lucy wearing a wreath of candles so that she might see in the dark of the catacombs where she she bears food to Christians in hiding is a lovely one.

In 2016, just before St. Lucy’s Day, terrorists massacred Christians worshipping in Egypt. The defiance of those Christians who did not chant, “Death!” or vow revenge, but instead chanted the Nicene Creed moved me. In profession we drive back darkness not in the obsession of vengeance.

If it’s helpful you may listen to me read it via the player below.

The cloudy sky o’erwhelms the failing sun
Who does not show or shine on sleeping trees
But wintered ‘way to southern courses run
Where the warm breeze blows golden, dappled leaves.
Dear Lucy, wreathed in beauty, bearing gifts
That we dared not hope for here in the dark
And seeing your courage, our spirits rise, lift
To honor in name, remember and mark.
Again, we are lost midway through our life
Huddled ‘gainst death in catacombs of fear
Crying the Creed: “God of God; Light of Light,”
Defying darkness till our Hope appears.
Come, illumine, bear your gifts, wreathed in light
To us who await the end of winter’s night.

© Randall Edwards 2017

Only Son

Only Son

Continuing in a series entitled, Where Are You?, another poem from Genesis 22 has come together. Genesis 22:2 reads, “He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

If we are familiar with this event and know the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, we interject what we know into the narrative without thinking about it. However, this interaction may be more dramatic and may read more ambiguously if we were reading it for the first time.

In this sonnet I try and capture the sense of a dialogue between the Lord and Abraham and also to flesh out the ambiguity about whom the Lord is speaking. [I believe it was from Dr. Timothy Keller that I first heard this; which is to say, he should get credit for the idea but not the blame of what I’ve made of it]. As the ambiguity unwinds the dramatic tension increases until the name of the son of whom the Lord is speaking is spoken.

If helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

The Lord spoke and said to me, “Take your son.”
And not knowing which I said, “I have two.”

And the Lord replied, “Take your only son.”
Slowly, I considered, “El Shaddai, you
Know of all that there are two that are….
I have two sons who, the same as the other,
Are each the first of numberless of stars.
Both are my sons; each, the only son of their mother.”

Pressing, the Lord said, “The son whom you love.”
And with the press I started, protested,
“Two, my Lord; both, only sons whom I love;
Neither denied, nor your sign neglected.”

“Take your only son, whom you love as life,
Your laughter, Isaac, and him sacrifice.”

© Randall Edwards 2017
Artwork: By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

On the Third Day

On the Third Day

This poem is the second in a series of poems for Advent entitled, Where Are You? This sonnet is an imaginative re-telling of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22.

The words of Genesis 22:3-4 are the verses which captured my imagination. They read,

3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.
Genesis 22:1-14

In particular when Abraham “lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar” aside from seeing where the sacrifice was to be made, did he see something more? (Hebrews 11:17-19).

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

On the first day, you were as good as dead
When commanded that you be given up
In an unknown place, on a stone bed,
Pour out my delight, drink the bitter cup.

On the next we travelled in silence
The in between world of living and dying,
Night and day, obedient or defiant,
Grieving and grateful, blessed and crying.

The third by far, is worse of the three
As time has run out, what will be, begun;
To fully give in faith without degree
My everything, all, withhold not my son.
How from this comes good, blessing the nations?
Can a dead son rise in new creation?

© Randall Edwards 2017
Artwork: Gustav Dore

Nickabrik

Nickabrik

First of all this is a sonnet for me. It is about the dwarfish in me that is like Nickabrik, who appears in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian. Nickabrik resented both the Telmarines’ oppression and the help which Aslan sends in the children and in Prince Caspian. Nickabrik longed for days gone by when the dwarfs were feared and were close to the power who ruled Narnia for hundreds of winters with nary a Christmas. In the scene at Aslan’s How, Nickabrik gives full voice to his doubt’s imagination,

“Perhaps,” said Nikabrik in a cold voice. “Perhaps she was for you humans, if there were any of you in those days. Perhaps she was for some of the beasts. She stamped out the Beavers, I dare say; at least there are none of them in Narnia now. But she got on all right with us Dwarfs. I’m a Dwarf and I stand by my own people. We’re not afraid of the Witch.”
“But you’ve joined with us,” said Trufflehunter.
“Yes, and a lot of good it has done my people, so far,” snapped Nikabrik. “Who is sent on all the dangerous raids? The Dwarfs. Who goes short when the rations fail? The Dwarfs. Who—?”
“Lies! All lies!” said the Badger.
“And so,” said Nikabrik, whose voice now rose to a scream, “if you can’t help my people, I’ll go to someone who can.”
C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

If helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below,

We’re the slighted, the overlooked, ignored,
Abandoned, cut loose, cast aside, forgotten;
We drown in our envy, self-absorbed,
Full of shame, self-contempt, raging, rotten.
We, the peace-fakers, with a smile break faith,
Break trust, in dishonesty, blame shift, deflect,
Deny the wound, the offense, play the wraith
With shape-shifting hearts hid ‘neath stoic affect.

You’re the Reconciler, who bridges, makes,
The two one, tears down hostility’s wall
Cancels sin, cleanses, whose anointing breaks
Sin’s shaming power which reigned since the Fall.
Satan names my sin, says that sin name’s me
My Savior becomes sin, gives his name, sets free.

© Randall Edwards 2017

artwork: By Lorenz Frølich – Published in Gjellerup, Karl (1895). Den ældre Eddas Gudesange. Photographed from a 2001 reprint by bloodofox (talk · contribs)., Public Domain.

King of Peace

King of Peace

In the United States this weekend is full of holidays (or holy-days), and though they vary in degree of holiness, they all bear the marks of hope, devotion, promise, and of blessing or cursing. Black Friday marks the inauguration of the holiday shopping season, and with its sales and special offers, Black Friday offers the promised blessing of just the right gift at just the right price. Another holiday consists in the many football game rivalries which are scheduled this weekend; the victories or losses will make each team’s and their fan’s seasons. Lastly, this Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King in which the church recognizes its hope of ruling and reigning with Christ in the new heavens and new earth.

Abram in Genesis 14 found himself in the midst of battles, kings, and kingdoms. Rather than receive the blessings of the kings of this world, he instead declined what was offered in hope of a greater blessing. He tithed of the spoils of this world to Melchizedek, King of Salem (whose name means “king of righteousness” and who was “king of peace”). Melchizedek met Abram, received his tithe, and gave him bread and wine so that Abram might be strengthened to resist temptation and continue in faith.

At the end of Hebrews, the author writes that it is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace (Heb 13:9). This is a weekend full of kingdoms and the kings who are their people’s champion and who offer the promise of strength and blessing. This sonnet is about those competing realms and the promise of the King who delivers.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

Consumption’s cathedrals host The Holy Day
Where pilgrims search stalls for the perfect offering
To consummate their duty on Black Friday,
Join profit and promise, right price and right thing.

This is the week when the pigskin pilgrims seek
To vanquish the evil whom their champion fights
In the gridiron coliseums of Rivalry Week
In hope of a year of restored bragging rights.

On this Sunday the church will stand and sing
“At the Name of Jesus,” “Come Thou Almighty King”
Either full of the spoils of victory’s feasting,
Or hungover, hopeless, stuffed and still keening.

Whosoever you are, as Abram come, dine,
Taste the richest of fare: the King’s bread and wine.

© Randall Edwards 2017

A Parent’s Target Number

A Parent’s Target Number

Yesterday was World Diabetes Day. My youngest’s Type One diagnosis eight years ago has brought so much change. The grueling management of the disease not withstanding, the T1D community and our friends and family have been of such immeasurable support and encouragement. Nevertheless, it is a looming gravitational force in our life around whose orbit from which (until there is a cure) we will never reach escape velocity.

As the parent of a #T1D child, life goals and accomplishments have been reduced in great measure to how the management of the disease is going that particular day. Life is easily reduced to the data being collected  and how the management of blood sugar is going. On the one hand, the collection of data can give a false sense of control. On the other hand, the ignoring of data is deadly. To all my friends who suffered with #T1D or have a #T1D child, I didn’t know until I knew. You are, as is my daughter, my heroes.

To watch a young child suffer the onset of the disease, deal with the diagnosis, and try to come to terms with it is painful. The above picture (or below in the player), is one example of how our daughter dealt with her disease. When she began to take ownership of her management, she began to insert her own insulin cannula (which she does every three days). She needed to practice, and she practiced on her favorite stuffed turtle who remains to this day, her nighttime companion…and who still wears the inset. She is one of the bravest people I know. She is my hero.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

I can’t say that I feel I’ve accomplished
As much as I’d like, or even what you
And I might agree was what I’d promised;
The benchmarks changed, and I have to make due.

The matrix by which I measure success,
That which steals sleep, to which I give my best
Are not often the things others might guess:
A1C, glucose, and blood sugar tests,
(Type one never goes on vacation),
Hypo, DKA, dead in bead syndrome,
Burnout, confusion, inset location,
Basal rate, target, not too high or low.

I hit my number each morn with dawn’s light
When (thank God) again, she made it through night.

© Randall Edwards 2017
photo credit: Randy Edwards 2014

My Author

My Author

This is a poem which I’m reposting is for All Saints Day.

In it I am giving thanks for the poet-saints who have been my guides on my pilgrimage through this world. There are so many for whom I am grateful, but these especially have had an ongoing influence. Thank you Lord, for your people.

There are lines or allusions to each of the poets pictured. See if you can pick out where the references are. The poets are John Donne, George Herbert, Malcolm Guite,  John MiltonWilliam Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Dante Alighieri, and Edmund Spenser.

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If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

Midway through the journey of my life–
Lost, having wandered from the straight way–
In this world weary with sadness and strife,
You became my guide, mio maestro e autore.
Following your lead into verse, I stray
Browsing in rhythm midst meter and rhyme;
Imagination bodies forth bright as day,
And leads me up the encircling climb.
Dissevering, your backward mutters unwind,
Dispelling, each volta’s gospel paradox,
Singing, timelessness resounds into time,
Entering, as heaven in ordinary unlocks.
In your spell of song, this pilgrim finds habitation–
A concord midst the lyric lines, my reconciliation.

© Randy Edwards 2016