It’s Almost Here–Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers

It’s the fourth day of Christmas and I’m sitting at my dining table while shadows play on the Advent wreath and the dishwasher hums.

The post-holiday lull has begun, that in-between time where memories of enjoying my family’s company, complete with six noisy grandkids, partner with a looking-forward frame of mind to a new year and a new book.

Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers is allllmoooost finished; the final touches are being added to the cover and I am working on the electronic download of the book as well.  Since I’m self-publishing the process is a little nerve-wracking as all the details of content, design and cover are up to me (and a remarkable design gal for who I am eternally grateful.) Come mid-January we should be ready to launch. I so look forward to having some poetic inspiration available and in readers’ hands soon. The book will be available on Amazon and orderable wherever books are sold.

If you’d like be one of the first to receive an announcement of the book’s release, just click HERE.

In the meantime, may I offer you the title poem?

Pilgrimage

Since I am coming to that holy room…

            I shall be made thy music. -John Donne

Our journey home begins

daily with the sun. And a map.

Oriented by true north, that

compass which magnets

us in subtle, insistent ways, we move.

Deep and invisible, His song draws

us on as we come ’round again

in a thousand turns to the sound

of that voice.

We are Peregrinus, pilgrims

wandering place to place,

straining for an echo of melody,

words to a song we forgot we knew.

Forever we crease and fold our maps,

spilling tea as we travel, stain and blur

lines as we learn the way.

We look up. Scan the signs,

slow down, take note.

*****

No. Not a map, a musical score,

vellum notes traced over time

played on heart’s harp, tuning

our ears ever more finely to the

pitch, not of His voice, but His tent,

that dwelling place where we finally

meno with Him. Home at last.

Phillis Wheatley, African American Poet

phyllis wheatley
From Poetry Foundation online
Several years ago in a biography of preacher and evangelist Jonathan Edwards, I read the name of  “slave poet” Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784). Wheatley wrote an elegy (poem on the occasion of one’s death) for George Whitefield, one of Jonathan Edwards’ dear friends. Whitefield and Edwards were pillars of the Great Awakening that swept the world from England to the United States in the 1700’s and Wheatley had been greatly affected by the move of God in her own life. In fact, much of her strong Christian faith shows up in her poems, which I soon found out when I went looking.
What’s astonishing to me is the language and voice of Wheatley’s work. She was brought to America from Senegal/Gambia at the age of 7 and purchased by a family in Boston to purportedly “accompany the family’s children and share in domestic work.” As a result, she inadvertently was taught to read and write, receiving a stellar classical education alongside the children, something unheard for a slave. She read widely the literature and early works of Virgil and Ovid, John Milton and Shakespeare, and the style of her writing reflects this classical immersion.
The more I read the more surprised I was, assuming that all African slaves in the 1700’s were illtreated and illiterate. Thanks to my Sophomore English teacher, Dr. Kehl, I learned to love the language and style of Shakespeare’s writing (though I often needed assistance in deciphering his meaning.) When I first became a Christian I enjoyed the King James Version of the Bible for just that reason. Reading Wheatley’s poetry was like reading Shakespeare and I was drawn in.
Thanks to her owners and their wide circles in Boston society Wheatley’s work was known and shared widely in Boston and across the Atlantic. Her first published poem was printed when she was only 13 and she went on to write many, many more. Mary Wheatley, Phillis’ benefactress, saw to it that bookseller Archibald Bell begin to circulate Phillis’ work, and the debut edition of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in 1773. Poems on Various Subjects was the first volume of poetry by an American Negro published in modern times. Its readers included notables like Benjamin Franklin, among others and was well received and widely supported.

The Next Best Yes {a #poem}

view of cda lake from room
C’oeur d’Alene Lake, ID 

 

Now

Let 

And 

Yet

How can the power of my surrender

be wrapped up in three slight letters?

A mix of mercy in a single syllable?

And yet.

Placed just so, like fine crystal

refracting evening sun into shards 

of light, they precede each sentence,

illuming my way to the next best yes.

***

I’m grateful to Jesus, who is eternal and an all-at-once God, that we are bound by time.

That we are asked to step into our days one at a time, one yes at a time.

 

Dayspring From on High {a #poem}

 

Related imageThe Christ, as yet unchristened.

The Word as yet unspoken. So His

Mother announced instead,

He has performed mighty deeds with 

His arm; He has scattered those who are

proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down rulers from their

thrones, but has exalted the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things

But has sent the rich away empty. He has

helped His servant Israel, remembering to 

to be merciful, as He promised to our Fathers

to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

It is written. It is said. It is done.

Before our Lord’s first cry, we’d already won.

*****

Mary’s song is from Luke 1:46-55

Silence Ascends, Sunday {a #poem}

P_20190130_081852_vHDR_On-620976672-1549500404116.jpgThere’s a lot one can say
     about the power of being 
     quiet (yes, I see the irony).
When listening forefronts the mind
     other senses muscle their 
     way into place (the ears above
     all) take in the not-words
     simply song, hum and tone
     in counterpoint.
No addition necessary; I am
     mute, yet the Word bursts
     alive, verse and chorus rise
     without me. The truth
     needs no help to stand.
Even when I’m not singing
     even if I’m not yes-ing it.
Sometimes you don’t get an amen.

Home-A Poem in Three Parts

Beginning

Years and miles evaporate

like the morning’s ocean fog where

the strong, bright gleam of

friendship holds true.

Holds true like trees that have

weathered decades of sun as we

weathered our own wearying

waves of life, lapping at the edge

of our friendship, threatening

to erode the years of tears

and laughter, the breaking

in between.

In between we hold on, reach

out past the yesterdays touching this

day as we raise high our glasses,

crystal etching the air, the sound

like a chime announcing

we are still here.

Middle

I threw myself at roaring rolls

of foam and froth, abandoned

my limbs skyward as I jumped

the tops of broken, bowing

breakers, exploded in laughter,

surprised after all these years that

I still know how to dive when needed,

that my body remembers the bounce

and bob of moving water and most

of all, recalls the healing taste of salt,

the wondrous sky-blaze balm

that is the sun.

End

The melodious midnight insistence

of cricket backdrops my sleep.

I drift into memories of summer

nights when this accompaniment

was the only sound, a lullaby

for my youthful self; I rest

with a song.

Every summer I have a chance to visit Southern California, the land where I grew up. I spend days and evenings with family and friends, enjoying the rich, singular experience of a place that is buried deep in my bones. My mind is always flooded with memories when I return and, as usual, poured out into words.