At the City Aquarium

Noah’s Ark by Edward Hicks, 1846

Before the watery wall I stand,
a pane of glass between me and
flashy schools of myriad fish like sins parading
when a hammerhead impales my gaze.

I remember that one, the one
I should go to the gallows for,
before it pivots from the glass, as if
content to bide its time till the apocalypse.

Say, for an instant the earth quakes, the
glass cracks and another deluge follows,
the shark like avenging justice would seek
me out, for all my sins, for each mortal sin,

each like piranhas eating at my soul and
one long shark bite to crown the whole,
an entrée in the overtaking flood.
Would I call to that fool Noah to let me in

to his ark of gopherwood which we laughed
to see him build, four by fours, and two by twos,
the men and women kneeling to pray, now before
a Lamb slain, innocent blood, the promised Son?

The light dims around me, and for a moment,
the watery screen is empty, a gray shield,
a blank page to write my own fate sans God,
sans judgment, sans arks and crosses.

Maybe the fish were being fed on the other
side, a reprieve for me, “for my sins,” I laugh
and turn, when the hammerhead shoots out
of the murky depths and steals my bubbly grin away.


Christian Contentment

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.

Advent Cry (based on Psalm 18)

I wept and You heard me
I cried out and You helped me
I knew no rest, only loss; to You
O LORD, I stretched my hands:

“I have no words
No pleas to offer
The wind is strong
My breath is gone

There is the desert
Where there’s no succor
Here is the sea
Where I will drown

Unless You come
To deliver
The world will take
The life you own.”

So I cried and in love You answered
You came down from Heaven’s splendor
Down, down, down as it was written,
Born of virgin, clothed in flesh.

From cords of death You unbound me
Shedding Your blood to release me
Nailed to a cross my guilt You bore for me
From the grave rising my life You saved.

Now I stand on solid ground
Upon the Rock You set me on
All the darkness flees before me
As with Your light I abound.

Like a deer upon Your holy mountain
New heights of glory I can see
Though rising waters still pursue me
Lord, my eyes are set on Thee.

Come, then, Jesus, as once before
You came Your children to deliver
Now return and never leave us
On that Day when all floods cease.


image credit: Gersom Clark

Gaudete: Rejoice!

Jyoti Sahi (1944–), Holding the Flame of Fire, 2005. Kolkata, India.

Being found by You, I find everything:
the sky a brighter blue, the leaves a happier hue
of glistening green, the river’s melodious

sounds rising high and low, bandying mountain notes
to valley tunes, and sun-washed strands of ocean
shores joining moon-drawn tides of marshalled harmony.

Being known by You, I know everything:
Love stronger than Death, darkness overcome by Light,
Peace past understanding, Hope unbounded, Joy unspeakable,

Faith that Hell’s gates will assail in prayer, Strength of soul,
Patience through trials, Your Life eternal flowing
through me, Your Blood that washed every stain of sin.

Being loved by You, no other love compares:
not love of man or woman or child; not the charms of all
the world’s delights, not health nor fortune, not lands

nor houses, neither knowledge of every secret
on earth or above it, nor wisdom to confound
and bring to their knees every earthly might and power.

There’s nothing on earth for me if not for You:
there’s nothing in heaven if You be not there:
Mary’s little baby boy would be just another child

if he had not been You come down to earth, taking
on our flesh, suffering on earth the plight that is ours,
to give to us, Your children, by faith the glory that is Yours.

Maranatha.


The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday.

Gaudete, 16th Century Christmas Carol (wikipedia)

An Advent Song (For the First Sunday of Advent)

ADVENT STARRY NIGHT 5, Virginia Wieringa, Acrylic 2011

An Advent Song

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!”

Lyrics: Psalm 121 (sung in Arabic) I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where my help comes from My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going from now until the end of time

Confession of a Bibliopole

*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.


1Anna Waldherr writes at A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse: her most recent post is “Of Ogres and Onions”

Continue reading “Confession of a Bibliopole”

Note to a Vandal

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

Genre: Poetry; Word count: 100

Note to a Vandal

Named demon by my father,
taught life’s grammar by brute force,
think you to disassemble me by calumny,
emblazoning my property green,
as if the seen shames more than the unseen?

Are you a vandal? Are you meretricious?
Would foster evil greater than mother’s blame,
beat harder than a rod of pain?
Have stakes driven through my heart?
It’s been done.

Yet long before fists of flesh, eyes of stone,
Love upon a Cross of wood claimed me;
I, hidden in Him, rose with Him,
live by faith, by grace, enjoy eternal life in Him.

Grace, mercy, peace, my friend.


Host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields of Friday Fictioneers provides us with this week’s photo prompt and reminds us that “November 9–10, 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed a series of pogroms against the Jewish population in Germany and recently incorporated territories. This event became known as Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) because of the shattered glass that littered the streets after the vandalism and destruction of Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues, and homes. This was only the beginning of one of the most barbaric and vicious times in recent history. We say ‘never again.’ But.…” Rochelle shares a video link to Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, Dr. Edith Eger, who experienced survivor’s guilt, attaining peace towards the end of her life, and who says at one point in the short seven-minute talk: “When you share your secret, you are no longer in the concentration camp that is in your own mind.”

This Sunday, November 6, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, when you are invited to pray with those around the world for persecuted Christians, currently the most persecuted religious group in the world. The group Open Doors USA figures that 360 million Christians last year lived in countries where persecution was “significant.” Roughly 5,600 Christians were murdered, more than 6,000 were detained or imprisoned, and another 4,000-plus were kidnapped. In addition, more than 5,000 churches and other religious facilities were destroyed.

Continue reading “Note to a Vandal”

My Song

Genre: Poetry; Word Count: 100

poem and audio reading of “Why Am I?” ℗©2022 Dora A.K

Threads torn from a silk tapestry
a nightingale on branch of tree

Belong in other songs and rhymes
Of emperors with preternatural pastimes.

I pick my threads from a homespun quilt
Of gospel truth that frees from guilt.

It tells of One who died and rose
To save from sins and lies expose.

It warns that wealth hoarded in greed
Should be shared with those in need.

Here I sit under branch and sky
Little to my name, just this tune to ply.

At the end of my days, I’ve nothing to grieve:
it’s better to give than to receive.


Acts 20:35 NIV
[Paul said,] “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak,
remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Continue reading “My Song”

The Structure of Things

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Feeling a little ambitious today with three prompts for the price of one: Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneer’s photo prompt (100-word story), Sammi’s 13 Days of Samhain (“The Cheek of the Devil”) and Thursday’s Six Sentence Story (“Structure”). Enjoy!

Word/Sentence Count: 100 words/6 sentences; Genre: Fiction

The Structure of Things

“Mom, that lady was rude and you just let her walk without telling her off!!”

Ruth considers her outraged child.

She picks up the broken glass structure at her feet, says quietly, “I’ve always taught you to turn the other cheek, haven’t I? Someone’s got to be the first to take the hate, stop it from spreading, and I can, because Christ gives me that power.”

“But Mom, if you keep turning the other cheek, it just keeps getting bloodied!”

“Like our Master’s on the cross, and whose cheek would you rather have, Christ’s or the cheek of the Devil?”


Matthew 5:38-45:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Her Eyes Are Busy With Light

Mary and Baby Jesus, Oil on Paper, 2018, Katy Hawk

Her eyes are busy with light
Though I worry her with my doubts
There are candles in picture windows
Flirty love ballads on stereos
Ivy stabbed with holly
Santas under mistletoe
And I can’t get enough of the night.

Her eyes are busy with light
Though I fear her faith is naïve
Government thugs surveil, killing with drones
Children trafficked in towns, families ripped
Credit flows lucre between banks into pockets
Drugs dull, cocktails insensitize till we all go aground
And I burrow into the darkness of the night.

Her eyes are busy with light
Her hopes against my fears
She doesn’t see weakness in a babe in a manger
She doesn’t see defeat in a man on a cross
She doesn’t see what I see in a handful of dust
When the devil comes calling to offer a favor
And I run like the dickens to add to my scars.

O Winter, O Church Bells, O Dawn of revelation!
Would I could see her Savior, hear hallelujahs
Know what it feels like to know darkness conquered
Have peace and contentment, courage in the fight
To overthrow temptations and to laugh at my weakness
With Christ as my Brother, crying ‘Abba! Father!”
And wordless prayers by the Spirit means I’m not alone.

In such a heart as mine, O Father, enter in
In such a world as mine, O Christ, enter in
In such a darkness as this, O Spirit, enter in
Your call I hear above the noise
Your love for me over unbelief overflows
Before I can seek You, God, You have sought me
To save and to keep me eternally in You.

My eyes are busy with His Light
My life is bursting with His Life
My weakness melts in His Strength
The darkness dispersed by His Word
The pain we bear makes me aware
That God suffered in His flesh
To deliver us from death
And, hallelujah, our eyes are busy with Light!


[Jesus said,] “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

Luke 11:36

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Luke 1:46-55

Light

Unlooked for.
You were unlooked for.
Unhoped for.
You were unhoped for.
Where I was
You were not.
Where You were
I was not.
Sudden. Then.
It was sudden.
Not the shuddering
of wings, not of swan.
Angels watched.
Unwatched for.
What are you looking at?
Put ‘em back, your hallelujahs.
Because I’m a mess.
A blubbering mess.
Mess of sticky goo, sin.
Call it what you will.
It was painful, this birth.
This death. At twenty.
A resurrection in You.
In You. In You. In You.
I can’t get over You.
I can’t get over You.
You know me through and through.
You know me through and through.
You swaddled me
not in a manger.
You fed me at Your breast
Your Holy Spirit milk.
You hid me in Egypt.
You found me at Jacob’s well.
You suffer me a cross to bear
You bore it as well. For me. For me.
You birthed me. You loved me.
It’s not a fluke of biology
this Light as in Damascus.
This Love, this Light, this manger
this cross, this thorny crown
this night, this life over which
this darkness cannot roll.
This Love is Light is mine.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:1-5, 9-13

Grace at dVerse asks us to write either in the form of Kwansaba or write a poem of blessing or praise in the style of David Whyte. Click on Mr. Linky and join us for the last meeting of 2021 at the dVerse bar.
Image credit: Photo by Andre Moura from pexels

Inheritance Imperishable (inspired by 1 Peter 1:1-9)

Golden cup St. John’s wort (Hypericum patulum) ©dorahak

          You, exiles, foreigners, chosen ones,

          You, faith-walkers, word-doers, beatituders1

          You, cross-bearers, joy-bringers, gospel-lovers

          You, sanctified, baptized, crucified, dead but alive to God

          You, raised up with Christ, co-heirs with Him2

          You, trial-shoulderers, sin-mourners, grief-carriers

          You, compassion-clad, mudlark scavengers of world-weary souls

          You, yourselves poor, despised, nobodies scorned3

          Beloved of God, glory-bound

          You

                    catch the light in golden cups of faith
                    catch it, taste it, see how good His Word
                    catch it freely with a living hope

                    catch sun-filled manna, multiplied grace
                    peace as it settles like a priceless crown
                    upon your head in splendor untarnished

                    catch the light with your open heart
                    newborn soul with ears to hear
                    Song of songs from Your Father’s throne

                    catch it as a prayer upon your tongue
                    sounding the depths of Love unknown
                    but for the babe in a manger born

                    catch the light and let faith loose
                    kindled incense upward bound
                    sent like sparks to heaven’s court

                    catch joy unspeakable, unbounded love
                    the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
                    come in power to dwell with you


1 Peter 1:9
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


1The Beatitudes are characteristics and blessings listed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-12

2Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

31 Corinthians 1:26-29 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

section in bold italics:
Sammi's weekend writing prompt: 52 words, "Mudlarks"
Eugi's weekly prompt: "Compassion"
Have a blessed First Sunday of Advent everyone!

Lilies of the Field

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

There is no nonsense about them
These increments of light
Sun-warmed stalks and petals,
Reducing to ornate shabbiness, palaces and temples,
Gaudy shacks of industry, mirrors of acquisition
While these Easter-birthed seeds burst otherworldly
All-gathering the vindicating Light
The Being uncanny borne by fragile forms, mortal all,
Sometimes dowdy, bent, dreary,
Sometimes bold, speckled, flashy,
Zealous, winsome, or hard-pressed
Between cracks of broken pavements
Yet there all the same:
Seven thousands of unbowed knees
Introduced by design, awakened, sent out
As an offense to be discarded or tolerated,
Eliciting smile, laughter, scorn, booted heel,
These refugees offering refuge immortal
These exiles rushing homeward
This desire of sun:
These lilies of the field.


For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. (Psalm 26:3)

[And the LORD said to Elijah:] “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)

Björn at dVerse prompts us to write using a conceit:"A conceit is defined as an extended and complex metaphor that creates that apart from creating an element of surprise. If a metaphor is used to enhance imagery the conceit is better suited to describe an intricate metaphysical or emotional subject." Click on Mr. Linky to read and join in!

Cee's FOTD (Flower of the Day) November 4, 2021: Daisy
Click on any image above for a slideshow. Images ©dorahak

Gospel Truth

I know this music, she said,
her bow singing across the riggings of the ship,
vibrations of string, quivering, a Stradivarius
on seascapes wild, Colmcille’s blessing on her lips.
Her petaled fingers close on each note, wind-whipped,
prayer stinging her eyes, cutting grooves calloused
by play, tonal cry of pregnant labor for a birth
where words and sounds attuned once only to elemental
spirits, now midwife new life, the dead burying the dead,
but the people of the Way hearing, come dancing.


Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Luke 9:60
And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Image Credit: cocoparisienne from Pixabay 
Ingrid at dVerse: Poetics Tuesday asks us to "write a poem using only concrete nouns, subject matter and imagery." Click on Mr. Linky and join in!

Apple-spent (A Compound Word Verse)

An inch the moon moved, me eyeing
through sleepless lids I lay dying:
apple-fed.

Dim my sight, breath weakening
death’s poison ever strengthening:
apple-cursed.

Whispered prayers, hurried words of flesh
plead soul’s deliverance afresh:
apple-damned.

Darkness now floods the mind distraught
I would, I could, but I cannot:
apple-bent.

God’s Son whose flesh my guilt impaled
On cross for me o’er death prevailed:
apple-freed.

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels
Grace at dVerse challenges us today to write a Compound Word Verse, an unfamiliar form to most ous I daresay. She writes: "The Compound Word Verse is a poetry form invented by Margaret R. Smith that consists of five 3-line stanzas, for a total of 15 lines. The last line of each stanza ends in a compound word and these compound words share a common stem word which is taken from the title. (In the first example below the stem word is “moon” from the title “Moonlighting”; the compound words related to the title are moondust, moonbeams, moonsongs, etc.)

The Compound Word Verse (3 lines) has a set rhyme scheme and meter as follows:

Rhyme Scheme: a,a,b
Syllable/Meter: 8, 8, 3

Click on Mr. Linky to read more and join in!

The Makarios Life: The First Beatitude (Matthew 5:3)

Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

I’d been talking with her on the phone for quite a while. Now I had come to the end of myself, not simply physically weary, but spiritually. She was still anxious, overwrought, doubtful of her salvation, overrun with the voice of the Accuser undercutting the gospel she had known and believed for most of her life. Painful circumstances had brought her to the end of her rope. And I was at the end of mine, spiritual weapons blunted and defeat looming.

I was, in effect, poor in spirit. Impoverished, like the woman who said to Elisha: “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil” (2 Kings 4:2). Destitute.

But Jesus had said this was a characteristic of those in the kingdom. So I was good, right?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 3)

Blessed/Happy: μακάριος “makarios” mak-ar’-ee-os (Gk.)
– “blessed,” “happy,” “possessed of peace (shalom), well-being”
— in the Amplified Bible: “happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions”

This is the very first beatitude, a statement of blessing. Jesus’ eight beatitudes are the dramatic opening to his teaching in Matthew 5, 6 & 7. The beatitudes are the tour de force of the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, consummate prophet, priest, king, knows how to grab the attention of his listeners by describing the happy, fulfilled life, the desire of every human being. He describes “the makarios life,” that is, the “blessed/happy life,” of those who follow Him. This life is available to every believer. The kingdom of heaven had already come with His appearance, even as it will come fully on the day He returns. As believers, we are citizens in His kingdom, and as kingdom-dwellers, we should possess all the qualities that the beatitudes describe.

The makarios life is the life of someone described in Psalm 11, and in Christ Jesus, we possess its qualities. So, as Jesus says, happy are we! And this first beatitude gives the foundational characteristic that leads to all the other attributes listed of the blessed life. Living the makarios life means we are first and foremost “poor in spirit.”

Well, I was certainly feeling my spiritual poverty on the phone with my desperately anxious friend. So why didn’t I feel blessed?

Simple. The kingdom of God is not a matter of feeling. It is knowing and believing and trusting that God’s word and promises are true. It is a matter of taking with both hands God’s revealed truth and turning around continually to Him, looking to Him, and relying on Him to provide for all that we need to apply that truth in our lives and our relationships. That is kingdom-living. That is happiness-producing. That is blessedness. That is the makarios life!

So I acknowledge my spiritual lack and gather the riches of the kingdom in Christ Jesus. And I give my friend what Christ gives me: His love.

Do you remember the song we grew up with as children, the one we taught our children? I ask her. We used to sing “Jesus Loves Me”?

Yes, she says.

Can we sing it together?

Jesus . . . loves . . . .

Her voice fades pitifully. I can feel her anguish, hear her cries of panic and uncertainty, powerless to hope, powerless to believe. She can’t bring herself to say “me.” Jesus loves ME.

She hardly has the breath to sing through her cries, so I sing it for the most part alone. She is silent while I sing. Listening. Then I ask her:

Can you, dear one, say “Jesus loves me”?

Patiently we repeat the words of the song. Simple words. Words at the heart of the gospel.

She stumbles many times, as if in unbelief at the immensity of the statement, that Jesus could love her, even her.

Yes, I remind her, Yes! Jesus loves you. Yes! Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones — us, you and me – to Him belong. You are weak and I am weak but He is strong. Say it, dear one: say, “Jesus loves me.”

And when at last she does say it, substituting her name for the “me,” it is as if another gate of hell had been broken through, and the Accuser driven back in defeat.

It is a moment of great victory. You see, the kingdom of God is ours, the poor in spirit, in the person of Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself on the cross for us. And He gives us the kingdom He won for us.

I am weak but He is strong. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Sister! Brother! Preach it to yourself, to each other. We are living the makarios life. Hallelujah!


1Psalm 1
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Sandy Foundations: A Zéjel

Grace at dVerse engages us to try a new poetic form: the Zéjel, 
a Spanish form with Arabic influence related to the Qasida 
and adopted by the Spanish troubadours of 15th century. 
The rules for the most common form:
1) 8 syllable lines.
2) stanzaic, opening with a mono-rhymed triplet followed by any number of quatrains.  
3) rhymed, the rhyme of the opening mudanza establishes a linking rhyme with the end line of the succeeding quatrains. Rhyme scheme, aaa bbba ccca etc.
Click on Mr. Linky to read more poems.
Image credit: Roman Odintsov.

Universes and grains of sand
Threading dreams, like daisies, by hand
Unstrung the quicker when more grand.

I sought the visions of a dream
Where suffering ends and life would seem
Heavenly, as every soul would beam
To see wishes fulfilled as planned.

Long I searched by day and by night
Like Eldorado by the knight
The end I sought grew dim not bright
As all my hopes came to a stand.

Now gray and old, I do decry
The day I fell for that old lie:
Apart from God to live and die
And build my towering hopes on sand.

Freedom

There she was:
I realized she was me
crouched in the beating room,
hateful she, a thing that cried piteously
ugly she, crying stupidly, screwed up she,
she ugly, she stupid, she dumb, nothing deserving.

Dark, glassy the room:
no color, but a stink of loathing
a stink of putrid fear, foul abhorrence
disgust mirrored through the open door of midnight
huddled waiting for the next well-deserved blow.

The rustling of leaves:
standing many a time at the doorway dreaming
she was never there, the she that was me
this still-born excrescence, but now she, suddenly shielded
with the cloak of pure light of the Ancient One, holy,
whose right cannot be denied, his blood the price for she, for me.

Photo by Masha Raymers on Pexels.com

Romans 7:14-25 (NET)
For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate. But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 8:15 (NET)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”

2 Corinthians 3: 17-18 (NET)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

For dVerse: Poetics - Dungeons and Dragons, Sanaa asks that we "play a poetry game called,'Dungeons and Derivatives.' The idea here is to select one (from a list of eight sentences) and to change at least one word or more by replacing it with a derivative. Once you are done, unlock the muse from its dungeon and write a poem with the existing sentence." I chose the line from one of her poems which runs: “The rustling of leaves; I have stood many a time at the doorway of dreaming.” Click on Mr. Linky to read more and join in!