Unshod, Thy Feet

This sonnet follows from this year’s Advent series, Where Are You? It is based on Exodus 3 where Moses comes to Mt Horeb and finds the Lord (or is found by the Lord).

I have always been curious about what it is about shoelessness in the presence of holiness. As a technological innovation, shoes don’t seem that big of deal. However, if you think of what your life would be like without shoes, you might consider them differently.

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

Bewildered in this barren world of dust,
Worn by the wild of my own way and will,
Weary of wandering through schemes of self-trust,
I come to Holiness where time stands still.
My spirit tingles, sounds, rings with the bells
Of the grazing sheep I’ve watched lazily;
Awakened by fire as curiosity wells
Up in flame which burns, nags, consumes me.

“Unshod, thy feet of self-sufficiency;
You stand on holy ground, before The Face
Of the One Who Is, Who Was, and Will Be,
Who is fire unfueled, Three in embrace.”

I cover my head and step with bare feet
Fitted, readied with the gospel of peace.

© Randall Edwards 2017

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

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

Where Are You?

This weekend Grace Presbyterian Church is hosting an art exhibit for Advent which will feature portraiture, pyrography and music. If you’re in the area, please stop by to take it in. Pieces will be installed each week and will walk us towards, Bethlehem and the Nativity.

Here’s the flyer for the exhibit.
Where Are You?
As the exhibit artists present their work, I will be preaching on each of the themes. This poem is based on the first subject of the Advent theme of “Hope”.

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

Where are you,
My enfolding twin, one who for me
Fits in embrace, who entwined and enmeshed
Completes, in coupling makes he and she,
Who is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh?

Where are you,
Who ever-present, hides, is unseen,
Who forbids one thing, though all things are good,
Gives all for food, yet forbids we glean
What delights our eyes, what we want, would?

Where are you?
We wait blushing, trying to hide
From seeing as is, not as we would be;
In enmity, driven, cast from your side,
Wrapped in self-making, clothed in your tree’s leaves?

Where are you,
My image: father-husband, mother-wife?
What bleak breeze blew, moved you to take
The forbidden fruit, eat, gamble your life,
And the lives of you children forsake?

Where are you?
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
My Father, I thirst, drink for her the cup,
For your love obey, for her take the tree
That my bride ‘neath my love may eat and sup.

Here we are Lord,
Taken by he who takes us in hand,
Whose hands hold all things, WHO IS, I AM.
We hold to nothing, make no demand.
We are here. Do your will. Work your plan.

© Randall Edwards 2017
artwork: John Roddam Spencer Stanhope [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons