I walked this life – lonely – Aware of shame – only – Chiding Your apathy – to me – I saw myself – painfully – alone.
In Your light I see – suddenly – Always You are – with me – Walking me home – lonely – Never having left me – painfully – alone.
Psalm 35:4-9 (NIV): Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
When, in a word, I write my Contentment as a city Founded by His Spirit Whose boast is the cross
Whose streets are the Lord’s Whose enterprises are the Lord’s Whose possessions are the Lord’s Whose provisions are the Lord’s
A city in which all is quieted in the Lord All concerns are submitted to the Lord All desires are centered in the Lord All hopes are in the faithfulness of the Lord All joy is found in the love of the Lord All trust abounds in the goodness of the Lord
Then my soul glories in God my Savior alone As enemies rail futilely against its walls Fail to supplant the reign of the Lord Every extremity under His sovereign control Every lack a gain in grace upon grace Every worry cast aside for the security of His promises Every treasure in heaven stored from moth and rust and thieves
Then I am free to be satisfied in the Lord Free to be satisfied with myself Free to be part of the mystery That is, Christ in me, the hope of glory.
It’s just this way, she agonized, and I won’t end where I’ve begun. It’s the dream I’m waking up to.
I wonder, he antagonized, what if today becomes your cannibal past tomorrow, feeding on today’s life, keeping itself alive, demanding its pound of flesh?
She knew his aim. It was to lead her in circles, to origins, not beginnings.
But each cross-road meant progress, a royal one, or common as a pilgrim on a well-worn track, peculiar as a dream
singular as a vision, a glaring blaze of glory, immense as a grain of sand sparkling in the New Jerusalem.
A three-prompt medley is the tune I'm playing off with Rochelle's Friday Fictioneers photo prompt & 100-word challenge, dVerse's Poetics: Visionary Poetry, and GirlieOnEdge Six Sentence Story ("lead"). Join us!
“It was a stark surprise of loss,” she wrote, and then she stopped, her hand stilled on the backlit keys her eyes glued to the screen
where suddenly the lines misted, metamorphosed in rain, the world becoming watery, a deluge full of pain.
She wiped her cheeks, she rose, she paced, she spun about the room, though memories of a dream-like shore outran her pleas for peace.
Into her words she’d poured her heart, into the poems she wrote but from them she no longer found the comfort that she sought.
None came but one, a fiery flare that lit the distant sky as if it came in search of her, a foundling lost to claim.
“What joy is this, what Guest on high has chosen this black night, to show His love, to set alight my dark and stormy heart?”
She cried, and in her joy she found a new theme to set down by psalm-borne winds she softly sang of things divine, unseen.
Old and New Year Ditties by Christina Rossetti(1830-1894)
New Year met me somewhat sad: Old Year leaves me tired, Stripped of favourite things I had, Baulked of much desired: Yet farther on my road today God willing, farther on my way.
New Year coming on apace What have you to give me? Bring you scathe, or bring you grace, Face me with an honest face; You shall not deceive me: Be it good or ill, be it what you will, It needs shall help me on my road, My rugged way to heaven, please God.
Watch with me, men, women, and children dear, You whom I love, for whom I hope and fear, Watch with me this last vigil of the year. Some hug their business, some their pleasure scheme; Some seize the vacant hour to sleep or dream; Heart locked in heart some kneel and watch apart.
Watch with me, blessed spirits, who delight All thro’ the holy night to walk in white, Or take your ease after the long-drawn fight. I know not if they watch with me: I know They count this eve of resurrection slow, And cry, “How long?” with urgent utterance strong.
Watch with me, Jesus, in my loneliness: Tho’ others say me nay, yet say Thou yes; Tho’ others pass me by, stop Thou to bless. Yea, Thou dost stop with me this vigil night; Tonight of pain, tomorrow of delight: I, Love, am Thine; Thou, Lord my God, art mine.
Passing away, saith the World, passing away: Chances, beauty and youth sapped day by day: Thy life never continueth in one stay. Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey That hath won neither laurel nor bay? I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May: Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay On my bosom for aye. Then I answered: Yea.
Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away: With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play; Hearken what the past doth witness and say: Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array, A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay. At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day Lo the bridegroom shall come and shall not delay: Watch thou and pray. Then I answered: Yea.
Passing away, saith my God, passing away: Winter passeth after the long delay: New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray, Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven’s May. Tho’ I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray. Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day, My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say. Then I answered: Yea.
This poem was originally published in Goblin Market and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1862) and appears in The Complete Poems by Christina Rossetti (Penguin, 2001). It is in the public domain.
I wrote the top poem in honor of Christina Rossetti whose poetry stirs readers and poets alike with their psalm-like appeal, as “Old and New Year Ditties,” on the cusp of a new year. Join us at Denise’sSix Sentence Story (using prompt word “surprise”). To my blog visitors, have a Happy New Year, one full of love and peace.
O LORD, sheer joy with you, Israel, in exile Homeward bound From among a people of strange tongue Gone forth in sheer joy
Shouting Hallelujah! Out of Egypt have I gone forth with you, True and Faithful by name In sheer Joy!
How heavy the moment Is with eternity, Lord Jesus, Yet each flows after the other Like water escaping The hand that captures The eyes that see The thoughts that would knot Them into a jeweled chain To be adorned not as memory But as presence
Cradled birth, my life in your hands: Tenderly kept as shepherd with lamb Hurrying at angelic proclamations of peace Heavens ringing hallelujahs Your delight brooding over the waters Breaking over this new life, moments Spirit-born
When come the magi bearing each — On a camel fresh out of the box Of ornaments and sweet scents Frankincense and myrrh unpacked — Mystery like knots unraveling sheer
Joy, O Lord! You give each new Moment flowing rapidly bringing you Nearer, sheer joy as I await the Long-awaited coming in sheer joy!
I unravel from my winding sheet for that is what it is, this flesh which harbors my soul in the same way my soul embraced the flesh in its wanderings like Ulysses aboard his black ships.
As I do, I spy my body at a slowly retreating distance, see its supine figure like a sculpture by Rodin, no, strike that, more like a painting by Caravaggio, the one of Paul struck down on his way to Damascus, every strained muscle in his body and lineament of his face expressing brute confrontation with Truth.
Yes, I capitalized it, or Him, Truth, a living Being, the source and embodiment of the absolute by virtue of His aseity and omnipotence, against whom I thought I could compete with my own truth, small case, t-r-u-t-h, to my own demise when I took up arms against any who would tell me not to heed the siren’s call, or the call of that master rhetorician Ulysses, alive in every age, in every town, in every social circle, school, temple or townhall, the sly, polished poet, a borrower or thief with pockets full of gold who says, “Let’s see what’s out there, so much to see, so much to experience, and oh, the things we’ll learn as we range unanchored to any known shore, pushing that thin envelope of body and spirit to the limit!”
He offered what we all yearn for, knowledge of the world, a wisdom that ordinary people (how we despise them!) in their ordinary little lives could never hope to find, when there’s a world of pure epicurean adventure led by your captain, my captain, let’s call him Ulysses.
I was twenty-nine, hardly naïve, yet naïve as a voter with a politician spinning promises, and so I left my home and went with him, my Ulysses, as ready as he with wit to parley at every Areopagus, eager to hear or spin every newfangled tale ever told, see every exotic sight to behold, by plane, by train, oh, the places to go, to experience every esoteric fad and sensation, and everywhere the dawn rose to the rooster’s call of Carpe diem and the night fell on the cries to transgress, transgress, every boundary, every limit, until my soul gave way from its moorings at the realization that I had gained nothing but lost everything.
Soon I’ll leave for Charon’s Ferry and I wish now – too late — for just one more voyage: a voyage I’ll never know.
Denise's Six Sentence Story Word Promptis "range" so naturally my thoughts flew to that free-ranging (anti-)hero Ulysses and his place in Canto 26 of Dante's Inferno, Commedia.
Canto 26 is one of my favorite cantos in the Inferno, so much being said here by Dante, revealing how much he too is tempted by the same passion as Ulysses whose supple philosophical genius and rhetorical skills are used to deceive the Trojans and ultimately lead to the doom of his own men as he leaves Ithaca, his home. They sail beyond the gates of Hercules where he and his men spy Mount Purgatory before “a whirlwind rose and hammered” at their ships sending them plunging beneath the ocean waves.
She’ll be singing, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” But I won’t hear it Her voice so dulcet Her face pink, all aglow.
To God she’ll give the glory As her heart attuned soaring Sings out its praise Sad hearts to raise To Him our Savior and our joy.
Somehow I’ll know, my spirit sense The words when she is singing Rejoicing knowing In Christ she’s growing And that makes all the difference.
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith– to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Romans 16:25-27 [NIV]
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming (15th c. German, trans. Theodore Baker)
Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming From tender stem hath sprung! Of Jesse’s lineage coming As men of old have sung. It came, a flower bright, Amid the cold of winter When half-gone was the night.
Isaiah ’twas foretold it, The Rose I have in mind: With Mary we behold it, The virgin mother kind. To show God’s love aright She bore to men a Savior When half-gone was the night.
This Flower, whose fragrance tender With sweetness fills the air, Dispels with glorious splendor The darkness everywhere. True man, yet very God, From sin and death He saves us And lightens every load.
Join us at Rochelle's Friday Fictioneers (100 words, photo prompt)
and Denise's Six Sentence Story ("meter"). Click and to join the fun.
Journeying on Geryon
Dante’s Inferno lies open as I sleep.
On winged Geryon we descend into the infernal sublime of fraudsters, flatterers, the treacherous, their earth-borne bullshit stench exceeded here by that of countless privies.
Geryon’s human face seems kindly, despite his serpentine body and scorpion tail, and I ask: “Geryon, will I recognize anyone in the Malebolge, this place of stone?”
He, answering sweetly in steady meter: “Nay, why, for art thou not too clever for such?”
I relax, then gasp, as he drops me in the mire.
Alas, it’s not as one living but as one damned to her final destination.
In Canto XVII of Dante’s Inferno, the pilgrim Danteand the poet Virgil, his guide, ride on the back of the monster Geryon to descend from the seventh to the eighth circle of hell in the third ring of hell, the Malebolge. It is described in this way in the next canto:
There is a place in Hell called Malebolge, made all of stone the color of crude iron, as is the wall that makes its way around it.
Right in the middle of this evil field is an abyss, a broad and yawning pit, whose structure I shall tell in its due place.
The belt, then, that extends between the pit and that hard, steep wall’s base is circular; its bottom has been split into ten valleys.
Just as, where moat on surrounds a castle in order to keep guard upon the walls, the ground they occupy will form a pattern,
so did the valleys here form a design; and as such fortresses have bridges running right from their thresholds toward the outer bank,
so here, across the banks and ditches, ridges ran from the base of that rock wall until the pit that cuts them short and joins them all.
This was the place in which we found ourselves when Geryon had put us down; the poet held to the left, and I walked at his back.
The Divine Comedy – tr. Mandelbaum – Cantica I – Canto XVIII
This long November day unravels, filaments of self unthreaded spin in disarray seek a coalescing glance from Thee, my soul’s desire.
This long November night defeats, malingers yesterdays that moon in shallow doorways guilt-shadowed, hammering refrains that only Thy voice can silence.
Hasten to send Thou, Oh Lord, Thy Word, Thy Light by day, by night, my sight unblind, my thought overspread, unroll yard by yard Thy seeded spring in frozen heart by Thy Spirit’s warmth.
And then shall November night become as day, November day as night unfurled in Thy blanketing love, and like a traveler who spies a bridge o’er torrents harsh, I’ll race to cross encircling time, and so abide in Thee.
Clothed in the armor of Your light We walk by faith throughout the night As darkness fades, so all earthly fear With the long-awaited dawn, when You appear.
All the prophets spoke was true All that they prophesied of You We knew it then, we know it now That every knee before You one day will bow.
In the fullness of time You came As babe in manger, Jesus by name Now ascended King, when You departed You left us not alone, but the Holy Spirit imparted.
Yet out of our sight You reign on high Until that day when You again come nigh The dawn of that day we will shout and cheer Not an eye will be dry when You, O Lord, draw near!
Now, Father, keep us faithful and strong Singing ever onwards the Gospel song Knowing it is the power of God to save By believing in His Son whom to us You gave.
Romans 1:16 (NIV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Galatians 4:4-6 (NASB) But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
malpaís(spanish: mahl-pah-ees; lit. “badland”): an arid, rough barren landscape of lava flows difficult to traverse; image: A Juniper bush grows out of the lava beds at the Carrizozo Malpais
In the malpaís – the badland – burning – a bird flew down And on my right hand sat
His eyes spoke love, so complete His feathers gentle gleamed, so glorious Where sun beat heavy in the malpaís
His kingly talons dug into my flesh Scored pain, bled wounds, I cried scorched by heat in the malpaís
Yet the good song he sang as I died Was one that filled my heart with joy, With peace ne’er felt in the malpaís
In the malpaís – waiting – once hopeless, condemned – With my last breaths, enlivened I rise
Lamentations 3:16-25 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
Romans 15:8-13 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
*A bibliopole is a person who buys and sells books, especially rare ones.
This Dream recurs — I am the Bird — Neither the Darkness — nor the Light — Ranging over Estates of books Endless — See one Book — now Ubiquitous — contains Life Lights the Path —while others Sound Characterize Reflect Darken Never overcome the Light
A recent post by a fellow blogger1 awakened me yet again to issues of abuse. Extremes of reaction and behavior caused by past abuse. Impossibly high standards it engenders. Unrealistic expectations. Childhood scars that reopen and bleed. Shedding these old habits of thought/behavior and clearing our lungs of them by achieving moderation does take time … but particularly time in the word of God. Diving deep and long, letting the Holy Spirit fill our lungs with His love so we can breathe more easily in our own skin. Theology is not a luxury but a necessity that God alone can provide through the special revelation that is His inerrant and infallible word. Through it we come to know that He is the Rock that is higher than all others, as the psalmist puts it, a fortress of peace, stability and safety. But more: He gives life, abundant life, His own, by uniting us with Himself, Emmanuel, God with us, the incarnate God, Christ Jesus. Finally, union with Christ is God’s divine life poured into us by His Spirit and we become a new creation, leaving the past behind, following a new path that leads to life eternal, and pressing on “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”2
Psalm 119:105 (KJV) Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2Phillipians 3:12,14 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.