Since my last poem, “October Fire,” I encountered “The Bright Field” by R. S. Thomas, a Welsh poet and Anglican priest of the last century. It’s theme of illumination is so allied to mine (though its poetic genius far eclipses mine) that I’d like to share it with you, that it might enflame and brighten your heart with hope. We are living in times that make us distrust the very leaders and experts that vie for our trust, and suspect the motives of those who claim to speak for the general welfare, for the sick, the poor and the oppressed. Our hopes have been misplaced if they have been placed on men and women. In the days leading up to our national election, let us pray that many will turn to the only true source of hope, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and reach out again to their neighbor on every street and every corner with grace and love.
The scene opens on the ancient grounds of Camp Pragmatics where newly arrived recruits stand uniformed and ready before Drill Sargeant Joe Lamech Skull, now in the middle of Company 666‘s morning drill.
(Setting: A shadowed room with the first rays of morning light breaking through the drawn curtains.)
Coffee to the Holy Bible (smirking): Hate to say this, pal, but she never skips me for you! It’s true love, dontcha know?
Holy Bible to Coffee: Love? “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 3:17). Love is what my pages are all about.
Christmas. My Lord and my Brother’s birthday. The day God came into the world wrapped in the flesh of a newborn babe.
He wasn’t born into that blissful scene you see on holiday cards. It was most probably in the dark little hillside stable of a one-room house built over a limestone cave, the cave functioning as the stable which one would enter at street level in the crowded town of Bethlehem. There was a manger filled with straw and that would be His first bed.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
Have you seen the “Unsung Hero” commercials of Thai Life? They’re not the usual “roll your eyes” fare. I can’t say many commercials have really reached out and touched me but these did, and especially this one: three minutes long and worth every second. Hats off to the folks who made it. It’s got heart. Take a look:
I. Apartment Dwelling
I have been here many times, down this corridor
I have lived here year by year, seen this semaphore
People waving good-bye, disappearing out their door
Didn’t tell them the Way, the Truth of Christ the Savior
Will I see them again? I’ve been here before.
II. Career Climbing
I’ll sit in my niche
Pretending I’m a glitch
So you won’t pitch a fit
Because of Him.
As I listen to the world around around me, there is no doubt in my mind that the church is being characterized as weak, internally and externally. Apostasy is on the rise in the western church as is persecution around the world.
I was one of those who was brought up to believe that life’s fullest purpose was to serve mankind, to do good works, that the most joyful life was the most productive life of service. Two fellows who were often quoted to me were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Rabindranath Tagore, for self-evident reasons, but here’s a sample of why:
Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait. (Longfellow, last stanza, “A Psalm of Life,” 1838)
I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I awoke and saw that life was service, I acted and behold, service was joy. (Tagore, 1861-1941)
Yet I had seen enough folk as I was growing up with a stoic sense of responsibility who were as joyless as the day is long, but who were happy enough to criticize those who lived for the joy of the coming life in eternity with their Lord as if their constant desire for heaven was somehow a serious flaw in their character. Escapists and weaklings, they were said to be, with no true love of humanity, living for the joy of what is yet to come when Christ returned instead of the practical demands of the day.
I don’t know what thoughts of elation crossed your mind on hearing the news this morning that Dr. Meriam Ibrahim arrived in Italy today a free woman at last after she and her two children had been held in captivity in a Sudanese prison for her Christian faith. She had given birth to her daughter, Maya, while shackled after having been given a reprieve from a death sentence. Yet during her entire almost year-long ordeal she refused to renounce Christ and held fast to her God. Now she and her children, having already been reunited with her husband at the American embassy in Sudan, will soon be in his New Hampshire home.