Tag Archives: Christian Writers

A Slow Walk into the New Year

P1200354It’s New Year’s Eve as I sit here in my Seattle dining room, typing with a view to the sky. Things are quiet; only the chimes noising their song outside my window as the gray and muted horizon frames the day. It’s time to be pensive and think deep thoughts, I suppose. Here are some of mine as we end not only this year, but an entire decade.

There are those who relish the action of turning the last page of December’s calendar with the promise of a new start each January. But the invisible leap from one year to the next sometimes is akin to falling over a precipice to an uncertain future. The page turning is dramatic and dreadfully sudden with the only certainty that God will be there to catch us.

I much prefer the slow walk into the New Year the Twelve Days of Christmas (from Christmas day until Epiphany on January 6th) provides. A meandering approach to ease into the days ahead with a look, not to something Brand New and Wonderful but to the slow revelation of who God is in the world.

Which is, of course, what Epiphany means. “A showing forth or manifestation.”

We’ve just celebrated Jesus’ birth–the revelation to His Jewish parents of the Messiah as a child. Epiphany is the event when we observe Christ’s appearance to the rest of mankind as the Magi (Gentiles) came from other parts of the world and left with the message that they had seen the Saviour.

Christ’s birth was a singular occasion–The Word, come to Earth as a babe. But walking out what that means as believers in Jesus–taking that message of salvation to the world much as the Wise Men must have done–is a lifelong journey.

What if instead of a freight-filled, auspicious turn from one year to the next, we evened out our steps a bit with a deliberate and intentional walk through all the days afforded us in Twelvetide?

Instead of making January 1st the beginning of each new year, why not make it simply a resting place along the way in a timetable anchored in the life of Christ, as we anchor our lives in His?

Perhaps I’ll begin observing the New Year on January 7th, walking into the world with the Gospel news that Messiah is here, come to bring health, healing and hope for all.

How about you? What are you going to take into the next season? I’d love to hear in the comments.

(This is an edited version of a recent social media post.)  Cheers!

Book Review:In a Strange Land-Ten Kingdom Poets

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When the holidays appear on the horizon (earlier and earlier each year….sigh) the question often arises, “What do you want for Christmas?” I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I really need, but many things I want. And what I always want is a book.

Lately it’s poetry more often than not. A new one I’ve been enjoying is “In a Strange Land-Ten Kingdom Poets” from the Poiema Series of Cascade Books. The Poiema (Greek for ‘a made thing’, or ‘workmanship’) Series is all about “providing a home for the finest poetry by people of Christian faith.”

Contributing poets include: Ryan Apple, Susan Cowger, Jen Stewart Fueston, Laura Reece Hogan, Burl Horniachek, Miho Nonaka, Debbie Sawczak, Bill Stadick, James Tughan, Mary Willis

Herewith is my review of “In a Strange Land.”

The kingdom of God has been compared throughout the Gospels as everything from a pearl of great price, to a vineyard, a man going on a journey, a mustard seed, a field of wheat and many more.

And if the Kingdom of God had poets, which I’m sure it does, then you’d find their work in the slim volume “In a Strange Land-Introducing Ten Kingdom Poets” from Poiema Poetry Series (ed. DS Martin). Editor Martin explains the occasion of this printing, “This poetry collection gathers into one volume works by ten talented poets who…each (are) well deserving of having their own full-length poetry books, but as of April, 2019 have not quite reached that milestone.”

Until these writers each have their own book (my poetic friend Susan Cowger is one of those whose work is included in Stranger; her book “A Slender Warble” releases Spring of 2020), you can find this poetic gathering  and enjoy all ten. The selections are rich and varied, as each writer renders from their own perspective a fuller vision of what God’s kingdom looks like. By turns amusing, descriptive, thoughtful and downright take-your-breath-away, we are handed a lens to view a particular version of faith experience as they see it.

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Conversation {a #poem}

IMG_20191027_153436What did I do to deserve this? is the wrong ask.

Because you didn’t.

Do anything.

There is no quid pro quo/cash economy in this wide

invisible, Kingdom-filled world. The sunlight searching

between oak leaves, the slant of green on the birdbath,

chime of silver in the breeze. It’s all gift.

Like the sloppy kiss of a two-year-old or an unexpected

letter in the mail, you are worth surprising.

Don’t quibble with your questions, paint your Creator

God as an if/then Saviour. He is a because/when God.

Because you are mine, I will pour out my gracelings

when I want, to whom I want.

Just look up from time to time and say thanks.

That is always the correct answer.

On Reading & Reciting Poetry

I have a signed copy of this lovely book from Caroline Kennedy’s Seattle appearance a few years back. I was amazed by how many of these poems she knew by heart, many of which she recited for us  that night. 

I am a terrible memorizer. Memorization is an analytical skill, a counter-intuitive trait to this Random Abstract Global thinker. However, next to trying to remember favorite Scriptures, which I’ve gotten mostly by osmosis lo, these 40 plus years, I do want to get some poetry in my memory banks. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” (Thanks to Johnny Anomaly at Creative Coping Podcast for that quote.)

So off we go; there are so many lovely poems to memorize.

Poem Number One-The Singing Bowl, Malcolm Guite

I began memorizing Malcolm Guite’s The Singing Bowl last March after a special retreat  where God gave me a singing bowl as a metaphor for the weekend’s experience. In an effort to remind myself often of what God had done, I committed to the process, which I discovered is very doable if the words rhyme. Meter helps, as well.

Guite’s poem is a sonnet–14 lines written in iambic pentameter, with alternating end rhymes. What is iambic pentameter you ask? For those of us not steeped in Shakespeare’s work, let’s thank Google.

“Iambic pentameter is line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable.”

Read The Singing Bowl and you’ll see what I mean.

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In Which I Speak of Buying Books & Saying Hello

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Golden Gardens Park, Seattle WA, end of summer jlc.

Dear Faithful (and new) Readers~Hello! You might remember back in January when I posted here about spending  my writing efforts in other arenas and that I would henceforth no longer be writing regularly in this space.
Well~things change and God nudges and it’s the first day of Autumn, always a marker for new beginnings. So I am writing to you anew. You may find more poetry here in the coming months as I’ve discovered a latent passion for both reading and writing it. You may also see topics a little more wide ranging than in the past; I look forward to sharing with you what comes to mind and pours out through my pen. Thank you for coming along.

In the meantime, let’s talk about books.

I know you’re as chagrined as I am that all things Halloween and Harvest are now overflowing at nearly every store you see. And alas, the holiday season isn’t far behind. (At my local Michael’s it’s already here. Sigh).

Thoughts of holiday gift-giving and receiving always bring to mind books I’d love to have or want to purchase. And I’m guessing you have many folks to consider as well when it comes to gifting, whether during the holidays or year round for birthdays and such. (Speaking of books about the holidays, I wrote one that I think you’ll find fun and helpful and encouraging–Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas. You can purchase a copy from Indiebound, Books a Million and Barnes & Noble–all listed below). 

But here’s the thing about buying books. The behemoth that is Amazon has nearly swamped the world with its reach and taken the soul out of bookselling and buying. And while I enjoy the ease with which I can purchase everything from bubble bath, to my favorite music and new baby clothes for my granddaughter from my phone…. well, part of me just really wants to do the Christian thing and put the soul back into commerce and spend my money somewhere there’s an actual human.

Consider this my feeble attempt at holding back the tsunami that is ecommerce. (I live in Seattleland where Amazon is headquartered. This is no small feat.)

In the years that I have been attending writing conferences and workshops and retreats I’ve met some fine folks in person who actually are still in business as Christian booksellers and who could really use our money and support. (Two are listed below).

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Any-a-gram {a #poem}

I hate it that I am so sporadic

inconsistent, not persistent,
         no straight-ahead-in-a-line-to-the-finish.
I’m distracted, side-tracked
stops and starts, mis-matched piles,
can’t remember the whats and whens.
No perfect files, labeled loudly
      I  A M  I N  C O N T R O L.
I feign at neatness, completeness escaping me
ever in process, a mess in the making.
Oh, why can’t I be like those orderly others,
those finishers perfectly packing their lives in a box,
the rank and file, who smile
     at me, “Oh poor thing, she’s so erratic.” 
Well—
I am resigned to the wholeof me,
my hits and misses
marking a difference,
scattering joy, seeds abound.
I cannot (do not) go in a straight line—
Random A to B then on to Z.
(Sequences only happen on a test.)
And life is an actual emergency
(not a test).
I like this formula better:
A cubed to D once plus E squared
then back to A and jump to N, then
who-knows-what?
I’m the only one
who can spell my life.
——-
from my files, circa 2008. still true