Review of “Poems from the Heart” by Dwight Roth

Whether Mr. Roth’s Poems from the Heart are read over the course of a week or a day, you will feel each time that you’ve just had a heartfelt talk with a friend: a friend with a way with words in all the particulars that touch you to the core. You’ll come away as if you’d been on a companionable walk, finding more in common than not with the poet, and knowing that it was time well-spent for the sentiments shared.

So it’s altogether fitting that the first poem is “Famous Only Among Friends”; after all only such fame is real and meaningful, with time spent and hearts open. And Roth invites us into his thoughts with his signature openheartedness, a style that is thankfully short on obscurities and long on frank and unabashed clarity so that its poetic beauty penetrates the heart.

Throughout this collection of poems, you will be charmed as I was with the poet’s unerring descriptions, the imagery of the woods (“To Be a Leaf”) and hearth-side (“Blackberry Pie”) mingling effortlessly with the deeper truths of life and spirituality.

Continue reading “Review of “Poems from the Heart” by Dwight Roth”

Journey (2)

Image credit; Evan Clark@ Unsplash

Journey

water still
log submerged
balanced feet
journey of the mind

what do you see,
what do you understand?
“to reach the shore
keep your eyes on land”

feet submerged
the sky above
you whisper, what now
as your heart gives out

from misty shore
a Voice calls out
“to walk on water
you can’t look down”

can faith hold firm
Who do you trust?
what your eyes can’t see
is what bears you up


The Light that Passed and Shone Forever

In the midst of suffering, grief, pain, and loss, the hope of glory we have through Christ Jesus is our sustaining grace. One day we shall see with our own eyes our Redeemer, when with the beloved ones we are reunited with, we shall hear “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!'” (Rev. 5:13, ESV)

What a glorious day that will be!

WALLIE'S WENTLETRAP

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The Light that Passed and Shone Forever (348 Words)

Some people will tell you that when you lose someone, you grieve and move on. They tell you, and rightfully so, that the loved one who passed would not want to see you sad. They would want to see you as they knew you, living and alive. But if you have ever truly loved, and if you have lost, how can you not miss the one you will never see in this world again? How can your soul not be shaken by a separation so sudden, so wrong?

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Dickens Considered In Media Res

It’s a rickety, rollicking ride I’m on
Reading Uncle’s “Our Mutual Friend”
On the tide of the Thames as it rolls
Along, dragging me in its mysterious wake
With Veneerings and Rimtys and inspectors
That lurk behind the John Harmons
Who could be the Srivatis and Vikrams
And Chandras hawking rumors by the Ganges
In the myriad scenario of humanity’s flow
Under the pen of a master storyteller caught
In the blood-spun net of familiar lives
Spent on the banks of labyrinthian rivers
That wend to shores around the world
And stay to balance on my fingertips.

Continue reading “Dickens Considered In Media Res”

Death’s Shadow

A friend told me once that she was most afraid of failing to die well. It was a glorious warm and sunny day and in the middle of it, just out of the blue, she says she’s worried about death.

We live in the shadow of death. Like winter, we know it is coming. We must be ready. An ominous chill, the harbinger of death, the first frost settles on the green leaves of summer, stealing life, sapping strength, leaves turning, withering, falling in the autumn rain. No power on earth can turn back the hands of time. A casket stands by an open grave.

It’s not simply that life has an end, that death has the last word. It’s not simply that death brings us to the end of ourselves as well.

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Why Are You?

I want to start my journey here, while the tide is in, where
the sun’s light glances off the crest of little waves
so that a thousand little lights sparkle
like stars just off the surface where the winds swirl
and I wonder as I gasp at the beauty given to me, Why am I?
Why are you? Why do we breathe in and out in these shells
of our being looking out through blue, green, brown, black,
grey eyes to find stars afloat on spindling breezes
and babies in our arms and lovers to melt into?
Was it for this moment? Or that: when flesh tore or the heart
burst like an open wound and no one knew but you
where the blood was spilt and how it continues to run?
Why this consciousness of jumbled desires and conflicting needs
treading time past, present, and future like a traveller
with a destination, a place to get to from God-knows-where?
“Where are you going, and where do you come from?”
The grave. The womb. The zygote and the worm. Understand?
Now ask me the real question that burns at the root and spit
of me: Why am I? This me that recognizes me like a stranger
in a mirror. Was I really a twinkle in an astrologer’s eye that fell out
by the force of gravity in a mother’s bed-time tale?
But when I look at the stars on the lake and in the night sky,
I don’t think of meiosis and compost, just eternity
as if I were born with it like a note left on a child
swaddled on the doorstep of life here and now, but a note all the same,
written by an infinite Being who alone had the power to birth my being,
to delight or grieve over me, to find and save me, to give me life,
to know Him through sparkling stars and bursting hearts
and love that never ends.


poem and audio reading of “Why Am I?” ℗©2020 Dora A.K

Ecclesiates 3: 11: He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

 

Don’t Be Weary

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:

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Winter’s Wife

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He had married her on a dark winter’s morning when hope burned low

And his prospects were dim. Yet her piety to him like the gold of Araby

Shone in a heart ablaze with fire by which to warm cold thoughts

As in the grey light of day the months rolled past, then years,

And the bottom line translated meager rewards

And more mouths to feed though she sang what light was given her

Into a wondrous fount from which he drank greedily,

Shunning all but his own despairing gaze.

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Renoir and Dickens: Two Quotes

 

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Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859):

 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …

 

 

363px-Auguste_Renoir_-_Young_Girls_at_the_Piano_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe great French artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, suffered so much from rheumatoid arthritis that it was difficult for him to paint due to progressive deformities in his hands and shoulders. The painting on the left, “Young Girls at the Piano” (1892), was done when he first developed the disease.

Yet when a friend said, “You have done enough. Why do you torture yourself?” Renoir replied, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

 

Continue reading “Renoir and Dickens: Two Quotes”

Our God Is Mighty To Save

Dr. Meriam Ibrahim with her son, Martin, and her newborn daughter, MayaI 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.

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January’s Dream

To January, Spring is a mocking dream
To Death, Life is an idiot’s tale
To the Blind, the Sun is a solar heater
To the Heartless, Love is a fool’s game
So once was I
Interred
Cruel, sightless
Winter’s daughter
Grave-clothed
Stumbling into the Light
Glorious
Who called my name
And it was no dream
It was Life.

You Are Not Alone

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I don’t think that anything separates us from others, even those closest to us, as much as illness, pain, or grief. There is a loneliness that sets in that builds a wall around us. It’s an invisible barrier. We can’t get out and they can’t get in. And it boils down to this. We are alone. Isolated. Cut off in some fundamental sense from where they are, because the space where we are is miles away, miles measured in pain and sorrow.

Here, in this space, only one Person can enter, can span that distance, and it is the man of sorrows, Christ Jesus. Still it is not his acquaintance with grief or pain that travels the distance to where we are. He has, in fact, never left us nor forsaken us, since neither “height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). No distress. No sorrow. No pain. No illness. Nothing can separate us from him who loves us. Continue reading “You Are Not Alone”

Arise, arise!

Courtesy Earth Observatory, NASA

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

It’s raining outside, which is fitting even in ordinary circumstances. Given my melancholic nature, the rain perversely cheers me, somehow exteriorizing a sadness, releasing her from her confinement, freeing me up for a temporary lightheartedness. This new guest is not unwelcome but strangely enough, she only increases my contemplation of the melancholic and sorrowful, the cloud and the rain, but with an optimism that settles into a sense of tranquility and peace.

It’s not that whatever unsettled me has been removed: the circumstance, the sin, the pain, the fear, whatever it may be. The storm has come. The blows have fallen. I am brought low. And there is only One who can raise me yet again from the dust, the man of heaven (1 Cor. 15:48), Christ Jesus.

But when you are in a place so far from heaven that Light seems a distant dream – the world, anyone? – and darkness seems the norm, you search only as a beggar in garments stained by a life of ugly words and deeds. You hardly dare approach the king of heaven. You’re ashamed to ask even for the crumbs that fall off his children’s tables. Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) in her poem “The Lowest Place” cries out,

Give me the lowest place: not that I dare
Ask for that lowest place, but Thou hast died
That I might live and share
Thy glory by Thy side.

Give me the lowest place: or if for me
That lowest place be too high, make one more low
Where I may sit and see
My God and love Thee so.

Though Scripture tells us to boldly approach the throne of grace, we know the dust and ashes of repentance are not scorned, indeed necessary, given our place as Christian pilgrims, simul justus et peccator, simultaneously righteous and sinner. Did not Jesus himself say that the man who dared not even raise his eyes to heaven but pleaded for mercy went home forgiven in contrast to the bold Pharisee?

Yet it was not the posture of the man per se, that is, the lowliness of his approach, that Christ was applauding, it was his raw honesty, untainted by excuses or crass self-righteousness. There is no hypocrisy here in this place of lowness. Just rank need. The need for God’s mercy.

That this mercy, and not just mercy, but love, is freely given into the hands of beseeching faith is what takes my breath away. That God through Jesus accepts my broken heart, forgives, mends, heals, comforts, and loves is pure unfettered grace. It’s like throwing open the doors of a palace to a destitute woman and saying, “It’s yours now. It’s yours forever.” George Herbert (17th c.) writes in “The Dawning”:

Arise sad heart; if thou dost not withstand,

Christ’s resurrection thine may be;

Do not by hanging down break from the hand,

Which as it riseth, raiseth thee;

Arise, arise!

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16)