Tag: Poetry

Cathartic Tears

Are you, or is someone you know, crying—even as a holiday approaches? You are not alone. Many people are sad, bereaved, or lonely during the holidays.

A.R. Cecil speaks to these feelings in her beautiful poem:


GUEST POST

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?—
Just kidding.

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.

Other.

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).

Alice Cecil has a Master of Science in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has worked as a third-grade teacher, as well as writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for many years.

Alice and her physician husband reside in Louisville, Kentucky. They enjoy traveling to visit their four children and four grandchildren who live in various parts of the world.

Alice enjoys giving book readings and speaking to women’s groups.


Photo: UNSPLASH

This post was first published in 2017.

Giving Thanks To “A Worthy King”

For Christ the King Sunday (Nov. 20) I again share this poem:

Worthy to Receive Glory

Made to honor, we give fealty,

We seek true north like a needle.

But to look for your king

in a pulpit, disappoints;

in a government, fails;

in the mirror, distorts.

Look instead with the eyes of your heart

to the Wounded who heals;

to the Throne that is true;

to the Lamb who was slain,

Christ the King.

–Catherine Lawton

(Excerpted from the book Glimpsing Glory)

In Revelation Chapter 5, Christ the King is depicted as a Lamb who has been slaughtered. All the magnificence of Heaven bows down and worships this Lamb.

In Isaiah 53 we are told “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”

Then why do we continually seek the pretty, the popular, the powerful, the persuasive, and the polished to emulate, venerate, and follow?

More questions: Have we ever given thanks to God for entering into our humanity and suffering with us and for us? Have we given thanks for the privilege of suffering with him and for him? Are we giving our hearts, our allegiance, our lives to the slaughtered Lamb who lives? the wounded one who heals? Are we willing to bring our wounds to the Lamb for healing? to transform us into wounded healers?

This Thanksgiving I want to join my thanks giving and praise with the angels and those who “fell down and worshiped” the lamb as they held aloft bowls filled with “the prayers of the saints” and as they sang a “new song”:

You are worthy …

for you were slaughtered

and by your blood you ransomed,

for God,

saints from every tribe and language

and people and nation….

To the one seated on the throne

and to the Lamb

be blessing and honor and glory

and might forever and ever!

(Rev. 5:9-13, NRSV)

Giving thanks,

 


Photo: Photo: “Thanksgiving” Stained-Glass Windows used by permission of Library of Congress

As the Trees their Glory Hurl

Leafy Lament

I’m raking leaves and raking leaves,
scrape, scrape, scraping leaves;
reds and oranges, greens and yellows,
all the crispy, crunchy fellows
in soft piles under the big
Mulberry trees.

Leaves are falling all around me,
on my head, before, behind me,
making mockery of my raking,
all my nice green lawn o’ertaking.

It’s a leafy, leafy world
as the trees their glory hurl.
Oh, I need a vacuum sweeper
or a giant tree-leaf eater.

–Catherine Lawton

This poem was written a number of years ago before our neighborhood had leaf blowers. Extracted here from the book, Remembering Softly: A Life In Poems. This post was first published five years ago. I thought we could all use a little humor again.

Photo © Can Stock Photo, BackyardProduct

 

Be(e) Doing Good

As my husband and I make our backyard garden a hospitable place for creatures, pollinators, and people … I watch the bees on flowers (like in these photos I took). The bees inspire me by the goodness of their work: They seem to remind the plants to produce, and the blooms and blossoms respond by flourishing. Honeybees pollinate and gather nectar within about a two-mile radius, reminding me of the interconnectedness of nature and of us all. They risk the journey of flying out to forage, then back to the hive laden with pollen and nectar, despite the perils of nature’s predators and humans’ poisons. Thus they store up honey that will feed the hive in winter as well as the people who respectfully extract and enjoy the delicious, surplus honey.

IMG 6154

As I watched a “bee doing good” this week, I was reminded to “be doing good” myself.* And this poem came to me:

Be(e) Doing Good

As you buzz about (many things)

    are you singing, bringing out

    the fruitfulness of life?

As you wing from place to place

    do you cherish each colorful face

    in the garden of life?

As you pollinate far and wide

    are you ever calling forth

    the Creativity of Life?

As you gladly sip secreted nectar

    will you with honey feed

    both the world and the hive?

Catherine Lawton


*”Jesus … went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38)

This post was first published at GodSpace

 

Waves on the Cladach

What does “Cladach” mean? That’s a question we often hear. So let me explain:

CLADACH (Kla’ dak) is a Scottish Gaelic word meaning beach or shore, as in seashore.

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore.” ~ John 21:4

The Lord sends us forth on life’s sea to venture for him, all the time welcoming us to the safety of his shore; and always God is with us.

“Go and be amongst them as my very self.”

Jesus came to show us what God the Father is like.

I was reminded of this truth today while listening to an audio book of sermons by George MacDonald, the 19th-Century Scottish author, poet and Christian minister whose writings deeply influenced C.S. Lewis.

In his strong belief in God’s relentless, fatherly love for all He has created, MacDonald proclaimed beautifully:

What more could the living God do than to send…this Lord Jesus Christ, His own eternal bosom friend, being His very Son, saying:

Let them see what I am like. Go, and be Myself amongst them. You can do it because you are my son.… They are my sons; but they cannot understand the Father until they get some idea of what the real son of my heart is. Go to them and dwell with them. And suffer them. And let them do anything to you they like so that they may see what I am, who from morning to night am serving them and doing all that I can do for them. And they won’t believe me. Go and be amongst them as my very self.’

And so he came.

Formed in the womb of Mary, birthed in an animal stall, hailed by dusty shepherds and star-gazing magi.

Jesus’ coming is what we both celebrate and look forward to during these days (that Christians call “Advent”) leading up to Christmas.

Jesus came to show us that God is with us and God loves us.

We writers seek to express this beautiful, life-giving truth in beautiful compositions of words. Lyrics of worship songs and verses of Psalms touch our hearts. And a beautifully crafted poem lifts our hearts in expectation, realization, and celebration of “the present and the presence” of God’s Love in Christ. The creative imagery in poetry reminds me that something very solid, very immediate, very physical yet very eternal and spiritual has happened!… Is happening!… Will happen!

During Advent, each day we post a new poem, in print and audio, to help us experience this immediacy of the meaning of Christ with us. Click HERE for A Poem A Day during Advent.

In addition, a video featuring five poems from the week is posted weekly on our YouTube channel.

For God so loved the world!

 

 

Holy Stillness

Treasures of Darkness : Holy Stillness

I have found that spiritual, emotional, and physical healing can begin even in times that are darkened, cold, alone, silent … when I still my heart and contemplate the “treasures of darkness” (Isaiah 45:3). One of the sweetest treasures of darkness is the realization that we are not alone. This realization encouraged me anew this winter as I contemplated that nature also experiences the waiting that has become more acute for us during a pandemic winter.

In much of the Northern Hemisphere, at least, we have been waiting for lighter, warmer days of nature’s renewal. And during these days of Lent we also recall, again, Jesus’ crucified body waiting in a dark, cold cave of death. When Jesus “woke up” in that cave of a tomb, did he open his eyes to darkness? Or did his open eyes, his very breath and resurrection-life energy, shine light into the darkness even before the stone rolled away? John wrote that Jesus is the light and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).

We can experience moments during periods of waiting that are holy, even healing. One morning this past winter I sat in meditative prayer in a corner room of our basement. That room has two windows with below-ground-level window wells. During the summer, toads and tiger salamanders dwell in the window wells. My grandchildren like to look for them. During winter, these denizens of the deeps dig into the earth and wait in darkness, finally emerging again in late spring. On that cold, sequestered pandemic morning I was thinking about these creatures—and my own sense of waiting—when this poem came to me:

Holy Stillness
There is no heartbeat
in a seed
Yet life waits
in that brittle encasement
as surely as in the stilled
breathing and slowed
beating heart of
toads and salamanders
in winter deeps and
sleeping bears in caves
Waiting, waiting, we wait
in lengthened nights and
chilled soil and cloistered suns
for warmer, lighter, moister days
to dawn
From on high—and pulsing
in the depths—we hear
“Wait… Wait… Be still…”
and “Coming—
I did, I am, I will.”

~Catherine Lawton


(This post was first published at GodSpace on 3-27-21.)
Photo: Ehud Neuhaus / Unsplash

Life Is Sacred

 

Have you considered all the ways in which …

LIFE IS SACRED

______________

Abortion (of choice-caused conception)
Senseless killing (can there be “just war”?)
Death penalties (where’s the capital in that?)

Euthanasia (euphemism for “Mercy Killing”)
Suicide (the traumatized need mercy)
Poisoning our food, air, water, soil, bodies—

Won’t we do what we can to minimize these?
Accepted and un-confronted, a culture of death
will affect who we are, alone and together

Who and what do we want to be?
“Free”
Free, you say?

Where’s the freedom of the pre-born?
Is all fair in love and war, really?
What “vengeance is mine”?

Too complicated politically to fix?
Are Justice-and-Mercy scales broke?
Isn’t life sacred? Is death escape?

Will crumbling foundations give way in revolt?
Or, as we’re breaking and remaking will we find
that we’re breaking ourselves against bedrock?

Then what and where and who will we be?

. . .

~Catherine Lawton


Art © Cladach Publishing (first appeared in Remembering Softly)

Watching For God In Season and Out

We have never experienced a Christmas like this one. No children’s programs at church, school, or community. No concerts to attend. Not much “window shopping.” No caroling door-to-door, no dinner parties, few gatherings or family reunions. I do think I see more people putting lights on their houses and trees outside.

In this season, as during this whole pandemic year, my husband and I have found great comfort in nature, even right in our backyard, especially the many birds that visit our feeders, birdbath, and trees and shrubs.

On a more normal Christmas a few years ago, our young grandchildren came to visit. We enjoyed playing in the snow and other activities, such as making pine cone suet feeders for the birds. Later I wrote these verses (below) and even illustrated them in a little Advent / Christmas book for the grandchildren. Two years ago I published this story-in-verse, entitled Something Is Coming To Our World.

These verses tell something of my own hopeful vision for the world, how our loving God is present to all creation, and has come into our world in the form of Jesus, the Incarnate Christ, whose coming again we await with anticipation, and with whom we can now be “partners,” co-laborers, caring for creation and loving people. (May God’s reign soon fully come!)

• • • • •

What Is Coming To Our World?
(How a Backyard Bird Sees Christmas)

Seasons have passed of warm, wiggly worms,
bountiful gardens and bright wildflowers,
plentiful insects on leaf and wing,
sun traveling high across the sky,
and all good things that make us sing.

The days grow shorter. The air grows colder.
We search now for meals and warm roost.
When the hawk and fox come hunting,
I will quickly hide in a bush.
The chill in the air tells me high on the peaks
snowflakes are drifting in piles white and deep;
soon, in this place that’s home to me
frost will sparkle and snow will fall.
Creator God, who gives sunshine and seeds,
berries and water, spring, summer, fall—
surely wants us to thrive all year long!

Bells are ringing. I hear singing.
Good aromas are increasing.
What should we anticipate?
What story does the music relate?
When the people open their doors,
I smell something warm, spicy and sweet,
and the seeds they bring us are nice.
Nippier days turn their noses pink,
but something good is coming, I think.
Anticipation fills the air.

Nights are cold, but lights are bright
and they twinkle everywhere.
It looks like stars are coming down
on trees and houses from the air.

It looks to me—all around—
like Heaven’s surely coming down!

Children come bounding out in the snow,
all rosy and bundled for winter play.
They gather greenery, seedpods, and cones—
much like we do sometimes in spring.
I wonder what they’re going to make?
A blue-eyed girl and boy look my way.

I start to fly; then I hear the girl say,
‘Hello, little bird. Here’s a present for you.
Do you know that tomorrow is Christmas Day?’
The boy says, ‘Merry Christmas to you, little bird,
and happy celebrations with your friends, too.’
I like the peanut butter and seeds they’ve pressed
into the pine cones they hang in the tree.

I’ll fly to the highest branch and sing
a song of Heaven coming down,
light in the darkness, warmth in the cold,
provision and plenty, promises of old.
As seeds wait patiently within the earth,
there’s hope for us all—even little birds.
All feathered friends, all four-legged creatures,
all living things, now hear my song.
All who Creator God called ‘good’:
God cares—and comes—for all.

I will sing the song God gives me.
I will wing the flight that lifts me.
I will listen to the glorious sounds,
for Heaven’s love is all around.

~Catherine Lawton

Illustrations from the book, Something Is Coming To Our World: How A Backyard Bird Sees Christmas

 

Moments Morph into Poems

Our lives are built of moments in time and space. And just as one moment of your life doesn’t define you, so one poem doesn’t define a poet.

Some moments of my life I wouldn’t want anyone to remember. Some moments beg interpretation. But not every moment of life warrants being grappled with or immortalized in a poem.

Some of my poems come out of my humanness / humanity; some come from the living workings out of faith; some come out of my searching, listening, and questioning; some poems come out of the sensations of a moment in time.

Some moments that inspire poems are microcosms of creation’s cosmic array, snapshots of life’s bigger pictures. Some poetic moments are unique flashes or epiphanies that I wish could be repeated but will likely never come again, at least not quite the same. These moments can change us if we allow them to, if we open our hearts to receive what they have to give. I think that is true, to some extent, of poetry as well.

I don’t sit down to make lines and rhymes, but to use words, rhythms, and metaphors to paint pictures of life’s moments of observing, noticing, being present to someone or something in a new way … of seeing a sometimes-startling new depth or aspect or facet of a fleeting, evocative, life-giving moment.

Poems come to the poet out of living moments that, penciled on paper, morph into verses of word art that can bring meaning to the reader’s own moments.

~Catherine Lawton

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