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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.

Village Evangelism

“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

Made clean.

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!

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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.”

Muzungu is the word for white man in Luganda, the primary language in Uganda.  I do not suppose there are any places left where a white man has never been seen.  But I have been to places remote enough where I was the first one to be seen in the living memory of the younger children.  One young man was translated to me as having asked his father, “What’s wrong with that man?  He looks like a ghost!”  To be a white man in an African village is to be an instant celebrity with the children.  And so this little poem makes a good introduction to some of my experiences doing theological education by extension (pastoral training) in remote villages of Uganda and Kenya.  We’ll look a bit more closely at some of the actual ministry next week.

Children’s Choir

Celebrity

Muzungu!” cry the children,

And all then run to see

The ghost who walks in perfect health

Although this cannot be.

 

“Ooh!  Ooh!  Muzungu!  How ah you?”

“I’m fine,” I smile and say.

And then they giggle, hide their faces,

Grin, and run away.

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!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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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.”

It’s a little late for this poem, but we are still enjoying the Spring its topic heralded a month ago.

VERNAL EQUINOX

March, 2004 

“Look at me!  I’m blue!  I’m blue!”

“Look at me!  I’m red!”

That is what the Bluebird trilled

And the Cardinal said.

 

“Look at me!  I am the sign

That Spring is on the way.”

That is what I clearly heard

The early Robin say.

 

“Look at us!  We’re brightest yellow!

We were the first who came!”

Thus the quickly blooming Jonquils

Also made their claim.

 

“Look at me!  I am the cause

That Spring is near at hand.”

The earlier-rising Sun was sure

That I would understand.

 

Now, to ignore such urgent carols

Surely would be rude,

As it would be illogical

If one did not conclude

 

That Winter soon must take the hint

That he did not belong

And go off in a huff to let them

Sing their gentle song.

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!  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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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.” 

What did the Founding Fathers mean when they said that it was self-evident that all men were created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights?  What did it mean when they forbade congress to make a law creating an “establishment of religion”?”  Is it really all that hard to answer such questions?  Not if you listen to them in context.

WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS

“We hold these truths to be self evident:

All men by their Creator are endowed . . .”

That’s what they said—but what could they have meant?

A wall of separation hard as flint

With crossing traffic strictly disallowed?

To some, that answer seems self evident.

“No law respecting an establishment”

Means no state churches, privileged and proud.

That’s what they said, but what could they have meant?

“Endowed”—by whom?  And then, the government

“Ordained”—by whom?  The answer, said aloud,

Was held by them to be self evident.

Their lives and sacred honors they’d have spent

Before to merely men they would have bowed.

That’s what they said, but what could they have meant?

Created equal”:  could that be a hint?

Too long this sun has hid behind a cloud.

We hold this truth to be self evident:

The Founding Fathers said just what they meant.

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!  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

THE LIGHT

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 pause today to remember Good Friday in anticipation of Easter.

THE LIGHT 

And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it” (Jn. 1:5).

There is no deeper darkness.

The rattle of the dirt upon the lid

Must cause some sound waves, even in the close

And muffled air; they fall on a deaf ear.

No light wave even tries to tempt the eye.

The rasping of the rock that rolls to close

A cave would have a similar effect,

Though louder—just as futile for the ear

And just as good at cutting off the eye.

An earthquake opened this one up again,

Which should have made no difference at all.

But when the rising sun stooped and looked in,

Its photons found the night already fled.

A Light that dawned before there was a dawn,

A Light too light and subtle for the eye,

Had flashed already.  The more garish sun

Came later, just to let the eye catch up.

The women brought theirs first to gaze upon

What sights the sun was competent to show:

The grave clothes folded and the body gone,

Two men in white who simply made no sense,

A gardener who—but no, that could not be.

Their hearts stopped cold—then started up again.

They blinked their eyes and suddenly could see

The empty cave now gaping in the garden,

The road out to the village of Emmaus,

An upper chamber in Jerusalem,

A campfire on the beach in Galilee

Saw many cold hearts starting up again

And heavy eyelids blinking into vision.

Once let loose, it could not be contained.

The Light leapt forth: Jerusalem, Judaea,

Samaria, the far ends of the earth.

To eyes invisible, from heart to heart

It traveled.  Darkness could not overcome it.

Deserts, oceans proved no barrier.

Murderous opposition only served

To fan the Flame.  It shines around us still,

Still pointing to the Cave beside the Hill.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)! Order from the publisher or Amazon.

Donald T. Williams, PhD