Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”
We spend a second week reflecting on my experiences doing mission work in Ugandan and Kenyan villages. I was there to bring some formal theological education to local pastors who lacked the opportunity to attend Bible school. We would gather them to a centrally located village and spend all day for a week on methods of Bible study, hermeneutics (the science of interpretation), sermon construction, etc. Then on Sunday I would preach in as many of their churches as I could reach so that hopefully they could see me doing what I had been telling them to do. In the evenings there would often be an evangelistic crusade—where I would be expected to play the evangelist, even though they were more effective in that role than I am! But there was a method to their madness.
“But I’m a teacher, not an evangelist.”
“No, the muzungu must preach at the crusade. That way, everybody will come.”
The stars shone on the hills of Africa
And on a sea of eyes that shone in wonder
At the generator-driven cinema,
Another sky of stars that spread out under
The temporary platform we’d erected.
They’d never seen a video before.
The younger ones had never once inspected
A white man. I can’t say which held them more
Enthralled, the flashing images or my skin.
It was the skin that made them pay attention
When, once the “Jesus” film was at an end,
I rose to preach. And now, what new dimension,
Stranger than moving pictures on a screen
Or ghost-like skin in health by some strange art
Could possibly be waiting to be seen?
Christ crucified and raised; the human heart
Remember: for more poetry like this, order Dr. Williams’s collected poetry, Stars through the Clouds, 2nd edition (Lantern Hollow Press, 2020) at https://smile.amazon.com/dp/173286800X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860!