This poem* is a testimony and affirmation of my faith in:
God’s love that changes hearts.
God’s power that calms storms.
Jesus’ victory that delivers from evil.
The Holy Spirit’s presence that offers soul rest.
Because I value the gift, solace, and challenge of poetry, I have started collecting quotes that help illumine the process and purpose of poetry. I’ll add to the list as I find good ones, from both historical and contemporary sources. Here is what I have so far:
“To me, that’s the gift of poetry—it shapes an endless conversation about the most important things in life. … Reading poems can help bring clarity and insight to emotions that can be confusing or contradictory.” ~Caroline Kennedy
“the music of the soul.” ~Voltaire
“the art of uniting pleasure with truth.” ~Samuel Johnson
“the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself.” ~William Hazlitt
[that which] “makes my body so cold no fire can warm me,” [and makes me} “feel as if the top of my head were taken off.” ~Emily Dickinson
“not the assertion of truth, but the making of that truth more fully real to us.” ~T.S. Eliot
“The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in.” ~Dylan Thomas
“Make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came.” ~Wendell Berry
“Through poetry, [we] can inquire about the world and [our] place in it…. It is a communal form of inquiry directed towards discovering universal truths.” ~Nayeli Riano
“Poetry is, to me, the art of putting the NOW into words.” ~Gary Haddis
“What draws us to poetry is its ability to connect with us by burying ideas beneath the mere words written. Subtext is the magic that keeps us coming back. But in order for the magic to work, the text above the subtext must always remain somewhat ambiguous.” ~Greg Boyd (in regard to biblical poetry)
“Poetry calls upon us to probe our deepest emotions and longings.” ~Sharon Olds
“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” ~Robert Frost
“People who pray, need to learn poetry.” ~Eugene Peterson
“To elevate the soul, poetry is necessary.” ~Edgar Allen Poe
Are you, or someone you know, crying—even as Mother’s Day approaches? You are not alone. Here is a poem for you, from one of our authors:
WHAT? YOU CAN’T STOP CRYING.
What? You can’t stop crying.
I hear you. Been there.
You say you left your grocery cart in frozen foods.
You’re telling me it was loaded with food
and every kind of whatnot
from all the other aisles,
and then you hightailed it to your car.
There you hid behind sunglasses and drove home.
Did you remember to wipe your fingerprints
off the handle of the loaded, abandoned cart
in frozen foods?—
You complain you couldn’t sleep because your slumber
was interrupted by the need to blow your nose.
David of the Old Testament cried on his bed.
See, we are in good company.
Let’s look at the list of life’s events that can trigger
such an avalanche of emotion.
Just check the one that fits, or mark “Other”
at the bottom.
All right, here we go.
You poured your life into the children.
All the children left home.
The empty nest doesn’t feel as good as you thought it would.
You lost your job.
You’re too old to be hired.
You’re not sure whether this reinventing is right for you.
You moved your mother into a nursing home.
You tried to manage Mom at home.
You moved your mother back into the home.
There is an injustice in your life.
You try to think of ways to address it.
Every idea leads to a dead end.
You choose to remain silent.
You have just received a bad diagnosis.
Many well-intentioned people are offering suggestions.
Someone who is dear to you is very ill.
That loved-one says, “Just sit with me.”
An important person in your life passes away.
Listen, if you weren’t crying, I’d be worried about you.
I sympathize with you.
God empathizes with you.
That’s the reason He included people
like Joseph, David, Job, and Paul in His Book.
Think about them; think about the Lord; and think about me.
And, in the near future,
you’ll be able to leave your empty cart in the corral,
go home, store the perishables in the refrigerator,
and then sit on the sofa and have a good cry.
Now, that will be progress. That will be hope.
~ A.R. (Alice) Cecil
Editor’s note: This poem first appeared in A.R. Cecil’s published book of poetry, IN THAT PLACE CALLED DAY: Poems and Reflections That Witness God’s Love. Mrs. Cecil is also the author of That Was the Best Christmas!: 25 Short Stories from the Generations (Cladach, 2013) and is one of the contributing authors of Journeys to Mother Love: Nine Women Tell their Stories of Forgiveness and Healing.(Cladach, 2012).
As in the close space between dawn and dusk of a January day when hoar-frosted trees have their feet in snow and their branches raised against a white, weighty sky,…
All the above poems are found in my book, Remembering Softly: A Life In Poems.
Snow on Good Friday
We grieve when snow falls
on Good Friday eve.
What about the greening,
the beginnings of spring? when
like manna fallen from Heaven—
“My body broken for you” into
flakes and crumbs—
soft, pure-white flesh
spread upon all that lies
both dormant and sprouting,
at morn reflects the rising sun;
except for rockiest places
saturates fallow and seeded,
both broken and wasted ground.
Palm Sunday is over. It felt good to rejoice in the triumphal entry of the one the people thought would be an earthly king, bring vindication, independence, national victory.
But as the the palm branches turn brown in the sun and the “red-carpet” of cloaks is put away, unresolved conflicts remain. Evil presses in, not as easy to identify as we thought. Sin wins the day, both personally and corporately. Friends transform into enemies. Favorite Doctrines and Laws lose their luster. Disappointment, cynicism, and fear blind the eyes. A pervasive, gray cloud threatens to smother hope.
If today we didn’t know what Holy Week would bring, we would be filled with longings and regrets, perhaps we’d even join the mob mentality of the Jews as Passover approached. Or perhaps we’d find ourselves cowering and cowardly as were the disciples.
If we’re honest, there are times we can’t see the Light, feel the Hope, hold onto Courage. Some of us feel overcome by a sense of failure, helpless yearnings, and hopeless waiting.
In these times, as during the gathering darkness leading to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, we can turn to words of the Psalmist David, as Jesus’ disciples surely did: “How long, O Lord? … How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death…” (Psalm 13).
The Lord still gives us the gift of poets who have the ability to express the longings we are feeling. One such poet is James Troy Turner. Like Jesus’ followers who were not highly educated, who had few of this worlds goods, but who felt the burden of sin and oppression and wanted to believe that a Deliverer would set them free— so James Troy Turner expresses the neediness and longing of Holy Week with these verses:
Deeper and deeper into the open arms of death,
As the world lives, then what time is left.
We push and we pull, filling our lives
With only the promise of tomorrow.
And where is the light?
How I long for the days of
My simple youth.
You could believe all they said—
You knew it was true.
A man was a man always,
True even to himself.
The good he would buy—
Top quality on each shelf.
But those days are past,
I think never to be again.
Listen hard what they say—
Truth and lies in a spin.
I am so far off the bubble
sitting idle in all this rubble.
It really doesn’t make any sense;
reality is left so unraveled,
no common sense, I’m left baffled.
I live by His Word, you know it’s true;
followers of satan are all but through.
It all adds up to endless trouble;
the wrath of God, it will be double.
So trust in Him, His will be done;
and if you do, you’re loved like His Son.
(verses excerpted from the book, POEMS by James Troy Turner)
(Photo credit: © Can Stock Photo / luckyraccoon)
I recorded this reading, and now I share it, with the hopes you will be encouraged in these unsettling times.
The poem is “Antidote” from my book of poetry, Remembering Softly : A Life In Poems
May the peace of Christ rest upon you!
During the month of April we are Celebrating:
- National Poetry Month
- and Spring!
Take time to experience, appreciate, and meditate on Re-awakenings and Renewal:
- in Nature all around us;
- in our Relationships to God and each other;
- of our Spiritual Life and Eternal Hope.
Reading inspirational poems can help you focus, “be still and know.”