Job’s Ending

Today’s is the last day for the November Poem a Day Challenge. Day 30’s prompt is appropriately, Endings.

I use it to wrap up a series of poems I’ve written over the past two months which have drawn their inspiration from the book of Job. This poems is based on Job 42.

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

There was nothing left to do
But put my hand over my mouth,
Not speak another word.

You are right and strong,
And though I still believe
I did nothing wrong,
I know you did not either.

For now my eye sees you,
Sees all that you have done,
Perceives something you will do,
And it is too wonderful for me;
For not only can You do all things,
But you will do everything
That needs doing.

I see the work of your hands
And something of their stretched span,
Something more than getting what’s owed,
Someone in between,
In between merely getting the reaping 
Of that which was sowed,
And the strong arm which can
Work or hold or let go.

Somewhere between the span of those two hands
Is a heart that will be betrayed and broken—
Broken open in an effusion of blood
And water and love.
I had heard of You, but I have spoken
Of things I did not understand,
Things I did not know.

And though I still sit on this heap of ash,
And though I have more questions I could ask,
I am at peace, am comforted, and at rest.
For I am Yours, and You are mine,
And that is best.
Now, whatever good You send 
Will not be the first but only the rest
And resting in You shall never end.

© Randall Edwards 2021
Artwork: Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

There Was a Day

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

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

In the land of a wise, eastern nation,
Lived a man with an average name like Bob
Who came up in a conversation
Between The Adversary and God.

Bob was a great man and good, for he would
Consecrate his children regularly
Make a sacrifice for each for they could
Have sinned or blessed out God unknowingly.

Now there was a day (his eldest’s birthday),
When trusting Bob’s sincere consecration
That God gave all Bob had and loved away
To The Adversary’s examination.

What can you do when you’re held to your word,
But release what was given and bless the Lord?

© Randall Edwards 2021. 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).

Behemoth

Under the lotus plants he lies, in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh. For his shade the lotus trees cover him; the willows of the brook surround him. – Job 40:21-24

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

I wonder if Monet ever thought
That among the two hundred and fifty
Paintings of water lilies that he caught 
Something more than his pond in Giverny--
That lurking beneath the pond’s surface, there
Might be something in the edge’s dark hues,
A hiding hippopotamus somewhere,
Silent in the shade of deep greens and blues?
And I wonder if the leaning into
The beauty of that place with a palette knife
Whether Behemoth rose up, charged, broke through 
The still surface with the terrors of life:
His mother dying or his wife's last breath,
To swallow him again in grief and death?

© Randall Edwards 2021

Artwork: Claude Monet, “Le Bassin aux nymphéas, harmonie vert”

The Incense

This sonnet is based on Isaiah 6:1-8, and is part of a new series on Isaiah titled, Full of His Glory.

I have always been brought up a bit short by the coal touching Isaiah’s lips and his subsequent eagerness to be sent. I can’t get over how painful I imagine it.

Much is made in my circles of the atonement made for Isaiah’s sin and the conviction that the coal must have come from the altar of sacrifice in the Temple’s courtyard. But Isaiah’s explicit mentioning of Uzziah at the beginning leads me to believe that the altar of incense inside the Sanctuary is what he has mind. Though I hold firmly to justification by faith, it seems that there is more going on than the battles of atonement theories.

In Isaiah more generally, but here too, the all too often malady of giving lip service to God while having a heart that is far from him seems to be more at hand. Even here, Isaiah’s preaching will fall on ears that cannot understand and be set before eyes which cannot perceive. Judah’s problem is in the heart. So this brings me back to Isaiah and his lips, and mine if I’m honest.

Burning coals and lips do not go together, but what if the image is not one of atonement but of sanctification. What if Isaiah is the incense who when ignited by God’s Spirit sends up the offering of prayer and praise –rising to heaven and suffusing everything around with the fragrant message of God’s word? What if Isaiah’s heart has been ignited in holiness and zeal and love? That he would rush forward and say, Send Me! Send Me! makes much more sense. So, here’s to Isaiah and hearts set aflame to make lips smoke with prayer and praise.

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

In the year that King Uzziah died I
Saw the Lord seated in His Temple high
Above where he speaks, makes the threshold shake
At the sound of his voice and glory’s weight.

And I shake too and break, for I am one
Who has seen the Holy. I am undone.
Unclean in heart my lips lie, lay claim
To the greedy loves of self, pride, and fame.

But from the altar where Uzziah sinned,
Comes heat and fire born on wings and wind.
I, the incense, the coal touches my lips,
Ignites his word, prayer smokes, calling grips
With grace. My heart aflame, he calls to me
To proclaim His favor, set captives free. 

© Randall Edwards 2020. 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).

artwork: Marc Chagall, Le prophète Isaïe, 1968–1968.