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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.”

There are so many ways a hike can turn out. The best ones help overcome the division between head and heart.  Not this one!

NEWFOUND GAP, MARCH 2004

The upward slopes were potent to entice

The feet; the snow-clad fir and swirling cloud,

The eye.  The weather had suppressed the crowd.

It seemed a perfect chance.  So, in a trice

I left.  The bitter cold soon felt quite nice

As I toiled upward.  For a while I plowed

Ahead, but soon my trek was disallowed

By snow that passing feet had turned to ice.

To climb was fine.  “But what about descending?

In hiking, what goes up must come back down,”

The Brain observed, and so the trip was over.

It seemed a great defeat, that journey’s ending.

The Brain had won.  But, though it came around,

The Heart sighed, yearning still to be a rover.

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

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

Palm Sunday

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.”

Like George Herbert and Edward Taylor, I found the pastorate highly conducive to following the secondary calling of Poetry.  Pastoral ministry rightly pursued keeps you focused on big ideas (Theology) mediated through concrete story (Scripture) and applied to the real lives of real human beings (your congregation).  A number of these poems come out of that matrix.  Preaching surely should be an attempt to elucidate and focus the impact of Scripture; and the distillation of that attempt can’t help but generate poetry too, in those so called.   This one is an appropriate meditation for Palm Sunday, which is only three days away now.

LUKE 19:41

The crowds cried out, “Hosannah!”

As his humble mount drew near.

The waving of the branches,

The excitement of the cheers,

The strewing of their garments

Kept their thoughts from being clear;

But the Savior saw the City

And saluted it with tears.

 

Still they echo through the years!

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.

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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.”

My friend, C. S. Lewis scholar Kathryn Linkskoog, the author of The Lion of Judah in Never-Never Land, suffered from a debilitating disease which deprived her of control over her muscles and confined her to bed.  She continued to write books to the world and emails to me, tapping them out one letter at a time on her computer with the one finger she could still control.  I disagreed with some of her later conclusions, but never was there a more heroic soul in the quest for truth, fighting on against unspeakable odds while battling a body that would no longer cooperate.  This poem was read at her funeral.

FOR KATHRYN

(Kathryn Lindskoog, d. 2003)

Her body, helpless, lay upon the bed,

Its life force all contracted to the head.

She had but one hand that she could control,

The feeble servant of a potent soul,

From which came, tapping, one key at a time,

Her thoughts—some controversial, some sublime—

All driven by the need to understand

The Lion of Judah in never-never land.

And now she does.  Fans’ cheers, the critics’ hiss

Fade out; she wakes up to a Lion’s kiss.

The once limp legs can run.  The race begins:

“My child!  Come further up, come further in.”

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.

Donald T. Williams, PhD