Thursday, October 16, 2008

Poetry Series: Part 1 of 11 - The Collector

Greetings faithful reader.  I apologize for my long absence, time has not been my friend (see the poem below)!  Also, I started this post almost two weeks ago, and only finished it now.  I have three posts 3/4 composed, waiting to be finished and published.  So, finally, here's one.  Hopefully the other ones will be posted soon.  

I hope that you are well.  I'd like to move back in this blog to some thoughts on writing.  In fact, I'd like to present a miniature series of poems.

I'm taking a class right now entitled Writing as Faith Practice.  One of our requirements is to write three pieces, two of which can be academic papers, and one of which must be creative.  Or, we could simply write three creative pieces (which is the option I chose).  I started out this bold endeavor in my favorite realm: the short story.  Unfortunately, after a few weeks of writing nothing solid was coming on a story.  So I decided to try my hand at poetry.  What came out was a series of eleven acrostic poems, using favorites quotes from the Bible as the spine of each poem.  The poems are named after either the writer of the quote, the person speaking the quote, or the person about whom the quote was written.  I'll present each of them here, in the order that I wrote them, and then discuss the writing process below.  I hope you enjoy.

The Collector

Even eternity used to seem small,
Tucked in my heart like a toddler in my arms,
Eyelids drooping, breath running slow,
Resting its rosy cheek in the crook of my chest.
Now I wonder if my fear of the unknown is lack of love,
If infinity is rendered harmless when you hug it like a child.
Time marches like a two-year-old trying to run,
Yielding to the gravity of my mind.

I used to gasp when it fell down hard;
Now I know it's more resilient than I am to its changing.

The truth of the matter is I don't understand
How it works; I stand in wonder of it, winded by its
Embrace as it rushes to hug me 'round my hips.

Helpless, I watch it grow, coming slowly to understand that
Eventually I'll have to let it go.  I'm
An unwilling parent of an unruly child,
Remembering the good old days when it used to
Take my hand as we walked together and
Squeeze it tight.

Or maybe I'm the child, the prodigal son of
Father Time, running from home with my inheritance.

Maybe eternity waits with a fatted calf, arms outstretched to
Embrace me.  And maybe, instead of holding it tight, I
Need to rest in its arms and let it rock me to sleep.

Now, this acrostic comes from one of my favorite lines in the book of Ecclesiastes: "I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  he has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Eccl. 3:10-11  This passage, by the way, comes right after the long litany made famous by the Byrds: "A time to be born; a time to die..." etc.  If you've never heard the song before:

The reason I love this passage is that it says, yes, there is a time for all of these things, for even death and war, but that these things, too, will pass away and that everything will be made beautiful in its time.  God has, therefore, set eternity in our hearts, has given us a hope beyond ourselves, beyond our understanding.  Derek Webb put this whole passage into song much better than I think I ever could in poem:

This Too Shall Be Made Right
Derek Webb

Appears on: The Ringing Bell


people love you the most for the things you hate
and hate you for loving the things that you cannot keep straight
people judge you on a curve
and tell you you’re getting what you deserve
this too shall be made right

children cannot learn when children cannot eat
stack them like lumber when children cannot sleep
children dream of wishing wells
whose waters quench all the fires of Hell
this too shall be made right

the earth and the sky and the sea are all holding their breath
wars and abuses have nature groaning with death
we say we’re just trying to stay alive
but it looks so much more like a way to die
this too shall be made right

there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right

I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those who i choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide
this too shall be made right

Also whistling around in my head while I wrote this poem was a quote from one of my favorite old-timey theologians: St. Augustine: "You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." from Augustine's Confessions.

The idea of comparing time to a child came to me through the idea of having something tucked into our hearts, even something like eternity.  How can something that large fit into something so small?  A mystery.  And a welcome one.

Blessings to you, dear faithful reader.

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