Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Paradox

"Often it is the dark forest that makes us speak about the open field. Frequently prison makes us think about freedom, hunger helps us to appreciate food, and war gives us words for peace. Not seldom are our visions of the future born out of the sufferings of the present and our hope for others out of our own despair. Only few 'happy endings' make us happy, but often someone's careful and honest articulation of the ambiguities, uncertainties and painful conditions of life gives us new hope. The paradox is indeed that new life is born out of the pains of the old."
-Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out


I will have weeds in my garden because of the dragonfly.
I couldn't keep on tilling; I didn't even try.
I stopped, to see shafts of sunlight turn wings into silver lace,
and the silver wings whispered to me, as it flew right past my face.
I'll have spider webs on my porch steps because of the columbine
that I sat and admired, broom forgotten, just to study its honeycomb shine.
And I will have fuzz on the carpet, and delicate dust balls on stair,
for my eye has been caught by a goldfinch, and I've daydream time always to spare.
-HJ June 29. 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thunderstorm Haiku
Pouring, pouring rain,
puddles, clouds and flooded yard,
but berries beckon brightly.
-HJ June 21 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

(If I see myself as a beloved child of God, this has implications...)

As a beloved child,
may I be more loving
to all the other children.

As one who is forgiven,
may I forgive all
as a thank offering.

As a welcomed follower,
may I persevere
to the very end of the trail.

As a brother or sister of the firstborn
may I look for direction
to the one who went before.
-HJ June 16

On second thought maybe this says it better:

Let the beloved child be loving.
Let the gifted child be giving.
Let the one reborn bring new life to many.
Let the living strengthen the living.

As we have known mercy, so shall we show mercy.
As we have received, so shall we give.
As we have been welcomed, so shall we welcome.
As we are forgiven so shall we forgive.
-HJ June 17

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Valley Of The Shadow of Death
And it came to pass we needs must tarry in the valley of desolation.
No farther could we travel though we longed for our destination.
"It is a sweet land we are going to, lush and wondrous to behold!"
But our beasts had suffered injury and must rest to heal, we were told.
And was it not foreboding we had felt as we drew near
to the dark and clouded mountains we must cross in dread and fear,
and did not clouds roll in as we proceeded to descend,
and did not black clouds stop and stay above us to portend
the whispered name of this dark vale? Valley of Shadow it is called.
And our hearts beat loud within us, and our hope and courage palled.

In the darkness on the cliffs, the road impossible to see,
two beasts miss-stepped and staggered, and went down to injury.
Though we told ourselves how fortunate the beasts and loads not lost,
by the time we had them lifted up, the rain fell, cold as frost.
We persevered most haltingly, unsure of step or fall,
the beasts much slower, but we were glad that they could walk at all.

When lower slopes brought lesser winds and hillsides not as steep,
we made our camp. Though cold and wet and hungry, we chose sleep.
By morning we became aware how dark a day could be
in this shadowed, dismal, dreary place, all gloom and misery.
We spent the first day, if day it was, looking to our beasts,
attending to our worries, lack of water not the least.
The next, I set out down the valley, to see what I could find
to improve our lot with water fresh, for hot drink to soothe the mind.

As on my way I wandered down what seemed to be a trail
heavy mist was wrapped around me, heavy silence filled the vale.
And ever darker seemed the search; within me was despair
for never sounded trickling brook, nor birdsong in the air.
All day, it seemed, I struggled on, no footstep ever sure,
until the track just vanished: one more ill I must endure.
Now darkness fell, and very shadow of very dark it was,
and I me thought to take a rest, from all my search to pause,
but with that thought I took a step, ill fated and ill timed,
for I stepped off a precipice and tumbled down to slime.

A dank and foul deep pit it was. I felt my way around,
half swimming in the murk, half reaching up for solid ground.
But the wall went on, so steep and slick, to climb was no avail
as I fell back down each time I tried: this wall I could not scale!
I sat me down on rotten log and saw my chances slim,
so far from all my company, my strength now growing dim.
I shivered and I suffered and I waited for the end,
my doom it seemed to die of cold or hunger, without a friend.
On dragged the night, the darkness grew and pressed upon my soul,
until I lay in deepest grief in deepest, darkest hole.

And then it was, it came to me, so faint and far away,
borne on the mist, one note rang out, from where I could not say,
but voice it was, a human voice, and the note became a word
and I lifted up my head and held my breath, and so I heard:
"Bless the Lord, O my soul" rang out in distant song,
each note held high and pure, each word sung clear and long.
"And all that is within me", sang the voice, and it went on,
"Bless His holy name," the voice rang out, and in the darkness shone
not light, but song, to fill my weary breast and give me hope,
there might yet be a chance for me, some rescuer, or some rope.

I stood me up, renewed to search the walls of my seemed doom
and clambered round in mud and stone until a sweet perfume
surprised me sudden! Oh, what could smell so sweet in my despair?
I gladly breathed full deep as my hands wavered in the air
and just above my head I grasped a flower, sweet and fine,
hanging down to me from heaven, it seemed, on a strong and living vine.

And would it break, or would it hold and lead me to be free?
I tested, and it held fast, so I pulled and lifted me
until I gained again the surface and could stand on solid ground.
One flower I picked, and kept in memory of lost hope found.
The night still dark, to find my way by sight was not a choice,
and so I stayed in silence there, listening for the voice.
And yes, it came again, and now it seemed that it drew near,
and I called out loud to answer, overjoyed when he appeared.

My new companion I embraced and soon he told me all,
how I had come to valley's end, must turn me back before I fall.
He lived, he said, upon the mountain side in this dark land,
to give aid to any wanderer in need of word or hand.
Assured of guidance, comforted by my companions skills,
I rested there while night time passed, on the grass of those dark hills.
The land I had found dark and low and hopeless while alone,
was now become a place of peace, for my guide knew every stone.

And so it was that on the morrow we arose to go.
He fed me and he led me, told me all that I need know.
Right soon was I returned to all my waiting company,
bringing water pure and fruits and bread my friend had furnished me.
We traveled on and traveled long to where we had planned to go,
and many more the things we saw, and the things we came to know.
But always when the way seemed dark or treacherous, or bad,
I brought along the memory of the helper that I had,
and the voice I heard that taught my ear to listen when in fear,
and the sweet perfume that told me that a hope was always near.

The darkest valley, the coldest night, the worst grief I have known,
are lessened by the comfort that I never am alone.
- HJ May 30, June 4, 2010