Poetry in Motion. Blog in Neutral.

It’s been a busy few weeks ’round up in here, mostly due to hosting this. Still, in effort to keep the blog “fresh”, I’m posting a sonnet I wrote about a year and a half ago after studying through 1 & 2 Timothy in Disciple and in our Sunday school class.


But one tale, by a single Author writ
Speaks all, breathes form, life, to the world entire.
Not of man, yet man must comprehend it
To meet Him; saving, purifying fire.
From this fly our peregrine hearts, chasing
Tickles, myths, ashes; vain salve for sin’s throes.
The Tempter’s counterfeits our ears catching,
The self-unbuilding Gospel to depose.
Forged yarns weave ruin, despair. Lust negates love,
Avarice throttles hope, debts crushing joy.
But darkness must retreat. Light, as a dove
Descends, cuts straight, truth itself to deploy.
God’s own Word, own Son, come with us to dwell.
His blood opens Heaven, dooms lies to Hell.


Stacked Against Her

Everyone had a right to knowledge. Rosa had convinced herself of this.

For five years in her twenties, she plead with seventh graders to learn English grammar. She never doubted her maxim. The student-teacher ratio (which, on some days, was only slightly higher than the ingrate-fool ratio) was the real problem. A “promotion” to central office taught her otherwise. Two quick years there left her forehead scarred and the responsible wall as yet unmoved.

Her truth yet unconfined by that branch of dysfunctional bureaucracy, Rosa took it to the streets. She hired on as a junior librarian with the county. The pay cut was just the price of principle. Her first encounter with the public in their library stamped confirmation on what she knew. Gabriela, writing a paper on Vonnegut for a community college class, was glad to have some reference help from her old seventh-grade teacher. That glow carried Rosa through the first week. No matter that, of the next fifty inquiries she fielded, twenty-eight were looking for the wi-fi password, seventeen needed help with a computer or copier, four needed directions to relieve themselves, and one simply wanted to talk, having locked his keys in the car.

The bloom was off this rose, too, by February. In just four months, she’d learned to hate Mondays. They were open late, and the dark of winter made her IMG_20150316_183243818shift all the gloomier. As she was closing one week, the mystery section decided to live up to its name. Reaching for the light switch, she met sounds and smells worthy of the cryptic tomes nearby. Both were coined by a middle-aged man with his boots on.

His insulated coveralls ended at a knotted beard and dreadlocks bound with a paisley bandana. He snored, his obstructed airways hiding behind a copy of The Fierce Urgency of Now from the recent releases shelf. Rosa’s nose declared in no uncertain terms his need for a shower. She gently touched his shoulder. He growled, gurgled, started, apologized.

“Um, we’re closing now,” she squeaked. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Awright, awright! A fella’ knows where he’s not wanted,” he said. “Mighty cold night to turn me out, but I specs you just doin’ yo’ job.”

“Yes sir. But you can come back to read anytime between nine and five tomorrow.”

“Read? Haw! Sho’ baby, jus’ keep tellin’ yo’self dat.” He gathered up his oversized knapsack and staggered through the parking lot into the night. Rosa’s adage held timidly, and only in a most idealistic corner of her mind.

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Martyrdom, Large and Small

And He was saying to them all, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it…. For whoever is ashamed of Me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory…” (Luke 9:23-24, 26).

Born from the shed blood of our Lord, Christians are not a squeamish people. The Church across the ages has not shied from ridicule, torture, or death. Perhaps the grisly spectacle of public execution itself strengthened and expanded the faith.

In his Apology for Christianity, an “open letter” to the Roman authorities written less than 200 years after Christ, Tertullian plead for tolerance, pointing out that their persecution was having the opposite of its desired effect. “Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent. Therefore God suffers [allows] that we thus suffer…. Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you; it is rather a temptation to us. The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_The_Christian_Martyrs'_Last_Prayer_-_Walters_37113the blood of Christians is seed” (Apologeticus, Chapter 50). This last phrase is often repeated as “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

Armed with the honorable defiance conferred by unjust suffering, we imagine ourselves able to go to the lions like our forbears, heads held high as we slip into Christ’s presence. What happens, though, when there is no host of error to hear our confession, no one in the audience to believe Christ and recount our last act of witness to future generations? What of martyrdom when the injustice is softer, subtler, and the arena a workplace, classroom, or courtroom of precipitating thumbs and upturned noses each thoroughly satisfied at your demise? What if, rather than an immediate crown of glory, your last stand is followed by professional disgrace, financial hardship, social excommunication? Continue reading

Hope and Hazards: A Vision for Family–Part 1

I have neither qualification nor desire to lay another “how-to” straw on the bending back of my fellow parents. Given that raising children is my daily life right now, writing about it from time to time is inevitable. For those of you likewise on this roller-coaster, I offer the following as encouragement, food-for-thought, and the beginning of discussion.

When God grants us stewardship of the next generation, our first and longest task is to remember why. Pursuing that, every other responsibility begins to take form.

As long as men and women have borne children, we have sought to control the outcome of the juggernaut that is “growing up.” Surely even Adam and Eve, raw to their new world of sin and death, wanted the best for their sons—somehow to escape the chains of evil fixed from the womb. Their firstborn murdered his brother, unleashing thousands of years of horror among the rest of their descendants. Children, always the repository of our hopes and dreams, have a fair shot at becoming instead withered cisterns of our fears, disillusionment, and re-enacted mistakes.

Just as often, however, the results come back positive. The rub comes as we wrestle with how to determine one product over another. We all know perfectly wonderful people who sprang from the cradles of awful parents. Likewise, we know those parents who “did everything right,” yet managed to go to their graves panged by the choices of one or more wayward children. Perhaps this sword pierces your own heart also.

Parents are pulled taut in every direction, preyed upon from all corners by those nourished on their fears. A thousand voices cry out, promising the cure for uncertainty—this diet, that discipline scheme, this medication (or avoidance thereof), that education method, my routine, will set you free—delivering your offspring safely to well-adjusted adulthood. Do this, and you’re off the hook. No sooner does one of these fads gain traction with the hopeful masses than a counterinsurgency roars to life, cleansing again the temples of parenthood.

Would that it were this easy.

Would that it were this easy.

Thus distraught, manipulated, and marketed to, what are parents to do? Finding ourselves as still-young men and women vested with this incredible responsibility, the pull to choose a parenting camp and do battle on their behalf is strong. Many (most?) of us hesitate, though, with mounting doubts. Fear closes in whenever silence allows, outmaneuvered only by fatigue. Like Elijah, we find ourselves despairing in the cleft of the mountain, doing our best to ignore the quotidian earthquake and tune out the whirlwind of “solutions.” But the still, small voice breaks in yet, calling us to take courage for He has not forsaken us. Continue reading