It’s now the Christian season of Lent, the forty days of preparation beginning (roughly) with Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday and finishing on Easter Sunday; and I have set myself the fairly ludicrous task of having, by the end of Lent, a collection of forty poems, one for each day of the season. I’ve got a head start, having written a few Lent-themed poems in the past which I plan to include. Yet, even with that on my side, it’s a pretty ambitious project and I’m not sure I’ll succeed. But hopefully there’ll be some good poetry produced along the way. Here is one to start us off. It’s entitled “Spring”, not because it’s Spring where I’m writing (in the southern hemisphere!) but because the word “Lent” is an old English word used for Spring or “lengthening of days”.Spring The days are lengthening, The frost is thawing, The sun’s rising early, And you – you are praying. Our heartbeats are pounding, Our spirits are expecting, The temperature is rising, And you – you, lord, are sweating. Lazarus is walking, The palm branches are waving, The crowds are a-stirring, And you – my lord, you’re weeping. The donkey’s feet are thudding, The Hosannahs are resounding, The High Priest’s men are rumbling, And you – dear lord, you’re leaving. The traitor’s scent is nearing, The officers are all jeering, The fig tree is not blooming, But you, my lord, are bleeding, bleeding. You, sweet prince, are bleeding.
This afternoon my Year 12 Literature class was working on an assessment task quietly and, in the final few minutes, having run out of marking to do at that moment, I scribbled down this poem. I’m sure it’s a long way from being a fully-fledged poem, but I quite like it and so am sharing it with you, for what it’s worth. I’ve tentatively called it “You Know What”, but am open to suggestions!We can do this, though we haven’t tried lately: The colliding of persons, concatenation of spirits, The way that planets glide in complementary orbits, Pulsing forces aiding each other’s motions. We can do this, can’t we? You remember how, The dog chasing its ragged bone and you, Crestfallen, off your bike, heels in the air, while I Collide with the wind pushed off your sandals And weep because your knee-gash smarts When I look at it too; and the sceptical gaze Of the dog, who cares more for just one thing, At each moment, than any other, and our spirits Divided across places we’ve left and not known yet, Across bodies we’ll soon lose. We can do this, you know, Again and again – watch our memory-selves fall, glide, Now collide. You know how it goes, For go it always does.
I am pleased to announce that my latest ebook of poetry is now available from the Amazon Kindle store – the Sabah Poems, written during my time living in Malaysian Borneo in 2009-2010. You can download a sample from the Kindle site or buy the whole thing for only $2.99 – which I personally think is quite a bargain!
For anyone who has not yet had a look at my collection of poems, “Petalshower and Windfall”, you can download a free sample of twelve of the poems from that collection. If you like them, please consider downloading the complete eBook at the Amazon Kindle store here.
Also, be on the lookout for the forthcoming collection of my “Sabah Poems”. I will publish a couple of samples from the collection in the next few days.
If you have visited this blog before, you will possibly have noticed that it has changed its name – minutes, in fact, prior to this post being published. So why the name change? Well, a few reasons. Firstly, the original name – the best I could come up with when I put the site online – was taken by Nicholas Sparks several years ago and I don’t want to steal his thunder. Secondly, it struck me that the title of this site should be more reflective of what the site itself is about. Since I began posting here, I have found a recurring theme in the nature of my posts. Much of what I have posted here was written out of hardship. All of it reflects the hope and wisdom that can only be gained from the same kinds of hardship. That seems to be a fairly special and significant thing.
Then today I began reading a book which my housemate just bought, “The Consolations of Theology”, edited by the new principal of Ridley Theological College, Brian S. Rosner. The book begins with these words, written by American church historian Gwenfair Walter Adams:
Some of the world’s most powerful literature emerged in the nexus of enforced waiting, loneliness, deprivation, cold, hunger, and fear that has marked the arena, the dungeon, the tower, the jail. Over the centuries, many prisoners, when looking for comfort, turned to writing. (Adams, “Prologue: On Consolation”, in Rosner, ed. The Consolations of Theology, Eerdmans, 2008)
These words, as you can perhaps imagine, were particularly resonant for me. Now, I’m not going to suggest that writing in and of itself is a consoling experience. It can be, at times, quite the opposite, when the approach or motivation is wrong. But, when we write with our eyes, however weak, directed upwards to God, it can only ever be uplifting; and the experience of seeing hopeful words written when you know for a fact that you were far from hopeful when you wrote them: that can be one of the greatest consolations of all.
While I was living and working in Malaysia two years ago, I wrote quite extensively. Not fiction, but a fair bit of poetry and a lot of what I call “devotions”: reflections on Bible passages or aspects of the Christian life that struck me. I am offering a few of them here, for what they are worth:
Accept This Foreigner (Luke 17:15-19)
Spiritual Comedown (1 Kings 19:3-4)
One day, in the throes of some crushing doubt about the historical accuracy of the Bible, I wrote this reflection. It helped me a lot in clarifying my thinking on the topic.
Here is an essay that I wrote a year or so ago about intellectual doubt in faith and the problems it presents. Having struggled significantly with doubt over the years, this is a topic I have spent a lot of time thinking about. It may benefit other doubters and others who wish they did not doubt.
An anthology of my poems written from 2006-2012 is now available from the Kindle store at this link:
If you do not have a Kindle reader, the free Kindle app can be downloaded to iPhones, Android devices or iPads to allow you to read it. Hope you enjoy it!
Over the past few years I have written a number of poems which have taken the form of prayers – or perhaps I should say prayers that have taken the form of poems. I’m not sure what the difference is. Perhaps you can decide for yourselves as you read them. Here they are as a brief anthology.