Poetry of Love

29 09 2010

While praying and musing at a monastery chapel high and hidden in the mountains near Long’s Peak God spoke into my inner spirit, “poetry of love.”  I was startled and confused for it seemed so foreign and out of context.  It didn’t fit at all with what my mind was thinking about at the time.  It almost seemed as if He had bypassed my mind to touch my heart.  I asked for a bit more clarity and I was greeted with silence (I hate when He does that).

I just couldn’t get those three words off my mind.  I was doomed to ruminations, meditations, and inner questions for days.  The answer came from the Word of God, through a conversation and discussion with one of the Mountain Springs pastors I was reminded of a verse.

Paul, in writing one of his most intimate letters to a church that he deeply loved, wrote,

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

The word “workmanship” riveted my imagination and served to wipe away the cobwebs of my past study.  Workmanship is derived from the word, poieema, from which we get the English word “poem.”  In the Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, this word is described as “a thing of His making,” His “handiwork,” a “spiritual creation.” John Calvin writes of this phrase:

When he says, that “we are the work of God,” this does not refer to ordinary creation, by which we are made men. We are declared to be new creatures, because, not by our own power, but by the Spirit of Christ, we have been formed to righteousness.[i]

God is saying that each of us are a unique and beautiful poem.  As a new creative poem, He is writing His sonnet upon the fabric of His book of poetry.  It’s His book but we are the verses.  He’s the poet and we are living His verse.  We are living, loving poems.  We are the poetry of God.

What is poetry? Throughout the centuries, there have been many attempts at a definition.  Poetry is “the art of uniting pleasure with truth” (Samuel Johnson)[ii], “the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself” (William Hazlitt)[iii], “the music of the soul” (Voltaire)[iv].  T.S. Eliot once said of poetry, “It is not the assertion of truth, but the making of that truth more fully real to us.”[v]

William Wordsworth may have captured our meaning best when he wrote, “the poet is the rock of defense for human nature.”[vi] Similarly, Coleridge wrote, “[the poet] brings the whole soul of man into activity.”[vii] God is the poet and it is through His Spirit that we come to discover our true nature, our whole soul moved to creative energy.  We are the poems of the Poet.

Dylan Thomas once commented that “a poem on the page is only half a poem.”[viii] You see, a poem is only half alive until the words on the page are spoken.  They must be spoken into the hearts of other people.  Our life in the Spirit is a wildly jumbled creative, unique blend of verses that have a rhythm that touches everyone around us.  But we must live, really live.

Albert Einstein said that truth is “that which stands the test of experience.”  We are a creative energy of God mirroring the Master Poet with all of our poetic experiences.  Sometimes we are a poem of pain, sometimes a poem of joy, sometimes a poem of endurance.  But with each experience, His poem is crafted, rewritten, and more deeply edited by the love of God.

Jesus said,

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  These things I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:15-17)

We are not just any run-of-the-mill poem.  We are poems being written by the love of Jesus.  We are the fruit of His love.  We are in a love relationship with the Poet.  He is writing His words, His purposes into the fabric of our heart.

You can tell much about a poet by his or her poems.  The poetry of Emily Dickinson is vastly different from Robert Frost.  The works of Coleridge stand in major contrast to John Keats.  We are the sheet poems, the unfinished poems of God.  We are being crafted and written by the hand of God, through the Spirit, in the blood of Jesus.  If we will let Him, if we will stop resisting, God will write us.  We are His poetry of love.

Receive the point of His pen.

[i] Calvin’s Commentaries

[ii] A Treasury of the World’s Best Loved Poems, Crown Publishers, New York, p. v.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Gerard Kelly, Spoken Worship, Zondervan, p. 13.

Robust Living

20 09 2010

Robust Living

Mountain flowers cover the high altitude pastures and tundra this time of year.  Mountain meadows and the highlands of Colorado are covered with the light pink, flaming red, and sky blue of Columbine, Black Snakeroot, Boltonia, and Balloon Flower.  Last week Liz and I hiked the talus slopes and alpine meadows of the Crags[i].  With each turn in the trail, the mountain flowers, craggy cliffs, and golden hue of Aspen leaves in fall transition, filled our eyes with the light of God’s creative pulchritude and nobility.  Our eyes were filled to overflowing with the richness and uniqueness of God’s creative power.  Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.” (Luke 11:34a)  We rediscovered these words as our eyes swelled with the stunning beauty of the highlands.

As Liz and I traversed this mountain trail we both were brimming over with a passionate ardor to pray and worship God.  It was intoxicating to take in the life of creation.  Allowing our eyes to drink in the artistry of God, our mind and spirit was enlivened with joy and thankfulness.  I was reminded of the lines from the Robert Frost poem,

He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have had an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it never would be lost.
Never again would birds’ song be the same.
And to do that to birds was why she came.[ii]

To hear the birds “oversound” and to be reminded of the voice of Eve in that unblemished celestial garden brought praise to our lips.  Nature speaks of the glory and voice of God.  The Bible echoed our feelings, “the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Almost simultaneous to our euphoric feeling was anguish.  A forlorness for so many we have known through the years having never seen such beauty nor deeply known the love of God.  It is interesting that the second half of the words of Jesus are, “…But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” It has been our unfortunate experience to see many of our Christian friends drifting away from relationships with other believers and their faith in God.  The aftermath has been bitterness, depression, and in most cases, devastation. Their change of eyesight has flooded their lives with darkness.  It’s really sad to watch.

T.S. Eliot once wrote, “We had the experience, but missed the meaning.”  I am coming to believe that many so called “Christians” have never really deeply and profoundly touched the inner workings of a robust faith in God.  They had the experience but missed the true meaning.  They experienced the rules, religion, and outward workings of American Churchianity, but never really caught the real virus of a love relationship with Jesus.  Their eyes were never filled with the incisive ultraviolet light of God’s acceptance, but rather a 40 watt bulb kind of faith—the kind of light that never penetrates the body or saves the soul!

I want a robust faith and vigorous life!  I want to let the light in.  I want to let the landscapes of life reflect an inner landscape of energetic living.  What poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called the inscape.  Ron Dart explains,

Just as there are solid mountains, transient clouds, seasonal flowers, rushing and dry streams, bright and turbulent weather, and shady forests in the outer life and landscape, the same things exist in the inner life or inscape.  The hidden languages of landscape and inscape are there for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.[iii]

So often the life we live today robs us of inscape as we escape into a frantic pace of living.  Our tendency is to rush through life with one more appointment, one more project, and one less relationship.  Yet God is inviting us into life—robust living, that encounters God everywhere.  It is the inscape of beauty, deeply drinking of Jesus and His love for us.  It is the inscape of the Holy Spirit, whose voice calls us to a sixth sense of faith and perceptivity.

I have spent many hours traversing mountain tops and valley lowlands hiking, hunting and fishing.  The times on the river and in the deep pine forest have given me times to think deeply and pray earnestly.  As the years go by, as the fourth quarter of my life has begun, I make it my profound prayer to live with rapture, potency, and vitality.  To give out the light even as it pours in.  Robust living!

Carpe Diem Gloriae Dei,


[i] A popular hiking trail outside of Divide, Colorado.

[ii] Never Again Would bird Songs be the Same by Robert Frost

[iii] Ron Dart, When Mountain Meets Valley, Fresh Wind Press, p.10, 2005.