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Poetry, Grief and Love

A little bit of shoot the breeze and quite a bit of why I haven’t been posting lately. Grief has a funny way of pausing projects, a lifestyle.

Little Bits

I have read that some poets don’t read poetry. (And I would be interested in knowing the percentage.) I have a few anthologies that I pick up and thumb through, especially when I am feeling blue. I love Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz’s three Favorite Poem Project Anthologies. Every poem has at least one reader’s reaction to it – how it affected their lives.

After college, I kept my copy of the Harbrace College Handbook, which is a grammar and style book for writers. I found newer used editions as the years went by, but I noticed they were dumbed down. I actually bought an older version to replace a newer one for this reason. I can’t imagine the state of education today…

Quite a Bit

I have two best friends. I lost one of them on Good Friday.

It was a desire of mine since I began my adult years, to have a male platonic friend. My mother had a co-worker at the small rural high school where she was a counselor. They talked to each other on the telephone all the time. She told me that her friends were asking why don’t you just marry him? It worked for them, they were both very independent. I talked to him after my mother passed and before I moved away, and I could tell he missed her horribly. This relationship I think fostered a desire in me for the same thing. To be loved for me.

The way I met my friend was miraculous. He was an online game player that met my son online shortly after I moved here. He was from Wisconsin and about my age. I would talk to him occasionally through the VoIP software they used sometimes. After my son joined the Marines, the offer went out to talk to him myself while my son was in boot camp. And afterward, we took turns leading with a devotional and communion once a month over the same software. We had church.

We never met in person (though he did get to see my son), but he knew me better than almost anyone else. How did he show me love? He read my poems. And this one made him laugh.

Harry – of When Harry Met Sally fame – is not right when he says the sex always gets in the way. Sometimes the lack of it can be very healing.

Thank you, Lord, for Dec. I will be forever grateful.

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FaithMy poemsPoetryReading

Old Normal or Forge Ahead?

After I finished my sonnet and published it, I was awakened by the Lord shortly afterward. He had a multi-faceted, timed response to what I had written, simultaneously confirming what I was reading and hearing on the radio. I heard to not rush what I write. He reiterated once again that I was using my gift, even if it appeared I was not working at a fast pace, but at a pace that I could handle. And allow time for personal heartaches. He told me months ago writing would save me and it has. And it will.

April is National Poetry Month. The American Academy of Poets has 30 ways of celebrating.

The days ahead are forcing many to make hard choices, with much grief involved, no matter what choices are made. They are not only earthly choices but ones that will determine our eternities. I did an Old Testament Job a few days ago, telling God why was I born during these horrific days? He made it clear, I was born for such a time as this. Twenty years ago when He spoke this to me, He also gave me prophecies that I had no clue as to the scope of them. This is a comfort to me, knowing that He cared enough for me to let me know back then He was in control of not only international events but of me too. As Esther fasted for her people during the possibility of religious extermination, she chose to move forward despite the potential cost to her life.

What is your choice?


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life”

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
     Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
     And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
     And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
     Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
     Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
     Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
     And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
     Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
     In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
     Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
     Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
     Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
     We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
     Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
     Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
     Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
     With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
     Learn to labor and to wait.

FaithPoetryWriting

Martin Lurther Or How to Treat Your Enemies

I listen to many radio sermons throughout the day and night, and it is not uncommon to hear a preacher state just how divided this nation is. Many offer biblical solutions. The ultimate biblical solution is to read and follow the four gospels of Jesus. Not only did He teach us how to treat our enemies through His example, but He was and is the standard.

Many know Martin Luther as the priest and scholar who nailed the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church door in 1517. What is not as commonly known is a pastor who hounded him until the day Thomas Münzer was executed in 1525.

A Little Backstory

After the exasperation and intervention of Luther’s spiritual advisor, Johannes von Staupitz, Luther learned the hard way of legalism over grace – Luther would confess every single thought and action that he thought was a sin to Staupitz.

After he overcame this obstacle, Luther believed in sola scriptura, or the supremacy of the Bible over the Church. He was considered a mystic: he prized inward religious experience over ritual. However, over his life he did return to both church and scripture, drawing the ire of Münzer.

Back To The Present

Münzer read the 95 Theses and considered Luther as his spiritual mentor. Luther recommended him for a pastoral position at St. Mary’s at Zwickau, where he immediately and increasingly criticized the Franciscans until he was dismissed. He, along with two other men, shunned book learning and preached that God spoke to men directly. And most damning, they deemed themselves the only ones qualified to interpret the Bible.

After this, he bounced from church to church, stirring up the peasants – the miners, corn threshers, and farmers – saying they could teach better than Luther. He wanted the learned slaughtered, particularly pointing out Luther. His Utopian vision consisted of bringing a godly Kingdom type of equality to the earth.

In a letter written to his elector Frederick (nobles who ruled territories), he asked for toleration for Münzer and his other enemies. “Let us leave in His hands the combat and free encounter of minds.”

Thomas Münzer was tortured into a confession of his crimes, but still unrepentant towards his current congregation in a letter, not taking responsiblity. He was beheaded and impaled, rotting there as a warning to others.

Luther never advocated execution on his enemies, advocating for exile instead. Romans 12:19 states, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Closing Thoughts

The Reformation was not what it could have been because of the constant hounding of others, not only Münzer’s enemies but the peasants he used to foment his ideals.

I more fear what is within me than what comes from without.

Martin Luther

Faith

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Several years ago, I ventured to David’s Tent in Salem to pray for Oregon. I went inside the white tent staked in the parking lot across from the state capital building to pray. Before I left, David’s Tent placed an invitation to write the name of the town that you came from (I think it was a small piece of wood) and I did. I wrote the name of my town and said a prayer over it too.

Inside the state capital building is a small gift shop. I bought a few things, among them a plague that had the state motto written in Latin and English: Alis Volat Propiis or She Flies With Her Own Wings.

Oregon territory seal

The motto has not always been so. In 1854, Supreme Court Judge Jessie Quinn Thornton translated the Latin phrase and added it to the Oregon territory provisional government seal. It symbolized the independent spirit of the Oregon settlers outside both the British and United States government.

In 1957, it was changed to The Union, showing that Oregon was no longer divided by the issues of slavery from the Civil War. Finally, the motto She Flies With Her Own Wings returned home in 1987.

Oregon has been avant-garde in national legislation. Some laws include the recall of public officials, state-wide voter registration, and one dear to me, public access to the beaches.

Though I have lived in the Midwest most of my life, I have found a kinship with the spirit of Oregon – the beautiful vistas, the potential of her independent spirit.

Five Oregon counties are, for a second attempt, trying to join with Idaho since Salem does not represent conservative interests, and has a statewide super majority in all branches of government. I am torn. I desperately want Oregon to stay Oregon, but with draconian bills possibly being passed, living here would be miserable, to say the least.

Not only did I pray in Salem that day, I have walked the local beaches praying for my local area and beyond. I believe my prayers, and the prayers of other Oregonians, are stored in Heaven waiting for the right time to be answered.

Faith

Poems, Blogging, and Process

Austin Kleon wrote a book, Show Your Work. The premise is creativity is a process, not a product. It allows a public showing of the stages we go through in our art by sharing our process publicly.

After the process of importing my data from my old blog into my new one, I read through all my posts. Deciding which ones to keep and which ones to toss. Over the last year, I saw a progression of style and subject matter. I also did some deep thinking about the direction I wanted to take my new blog.

I desire to write more in-depth posts and return to writing poems, which went by the wayside. No more posting quote graphics and public domain poetry – for that I have started a Tumblr blog to complement this one. I will post once a week, Saturday, all prayer concerns for my readers to read and pray over as the Lord leads, called Prayer Points. I will be posting twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. And I plan on expanding my newsletter beyond just sending the last post via email. Finally, I am adding more graphics to my posts to make them more visually appealing.

It was an act of faith for me to start again. National news made me want to throw up my hands and say, “Lord, what is the point if censorship is rolling ahead full steam?” But I have learned to hear His voice over the years, and have seen His faithfulness. I know if He says, “Write!” then I need to honor this process and write, not only for Him but for my readers and for me too.

FaithPoetryWriting

Delayed Presents

I did not know my father except the first few years of my life and the last few years of his. After my mother passed away, I found a shoe box full of letters that he had written to her. I spent the next several weeks reading though them and learning about my past. It was a gift she left, which my brother graciously allowed me to keep. And so a correspondence began with him.

Fast forward several years. My father passed away. I changed one parent’s house for the other, announcing to friends and family I was moving. New starts and all that.

He had a long-time friend that became my friend too. She told me stories about him that had me laughing and saying, boy, that sounds like me! And she gave me a picture of him standing in the snow (if you aren’t familiar with the Oregon coast climate, that doesn’t happen very often).

Though I did not know him very well, he gave me a gift I am still treasuring today: Oregon.


Have a blessed weekend!

Faith

To Be Continued…

Several weeks ago, I felt the Lord say to me, my writing would save me. And it already has – the one good thing that came out of lockdowns was my learning discipline to blog and enjoying the likes and occasional comments. You really kept me going.

Many years ago I saved articles that decried the Church not meeting the needs of Christian artists.

I have held for a long-time desire to belong to a regular Christian writing community. I have pondered what that means specifically, or how it would play out. Not a how-to, marketing, or anything similar, but a place of support for Christian artists.

As they say, anything new begins with the first step, or in my case, the first blog post.

To be continued…

FaithWriting

All Things Oregon

When I moved here in 2013, many others were moving to Oregon too. It was the number one state to move to and I was proud to be one of the statistics. I came from Missouri, and for the most part followed the Oregon Trail all the way here.

My father passed here, so I decided to “go west, young man (older woman in my case)” and start a new life. And I have.

I have grown to love Oregon much more than Missouri: mild weather, beautiful shorelines, quiet community for the most part, the arts, the wide open spaces further east. No more tornado alley, however, I lived near the New Madrid fault line so that did not change here.

Many writing ideas came walking the beach with my portable radio and headphones on. Most of them haikus.

Politically, Oregon is not as liberal as many think. It is the same in most other states, the metropolitan areas are largely liberal and the rural areas are largely conservative. But I see much potential here in the days ahead. Dreams can come true here.


Have a blessed weekend!

Writing

Grieving Enemies

For upwards of 20 years, I had a dream to leave the Midwest and start a new life.

My dream became a nightmare. And the death of my dream entails grief. Because of the ongoing nature of my nightmare, I don’t get healing or closure.

Last night, I was listening to my usual line-up of sermons. And I was about to fall asleep when I was awakened, and knew this time it was the Lord wanting me to hear this particular sermon. It was on handling grief. At the end, he said we need time to process grief of the people who are our enemies – people who abuse us. That got my attention.

As I was mulling this over, it came to me that the nation is going to face grief in the death of what we perceived as the American Dream.

Tidal waves of exposures are hitting our shores, sending many who have not been reading outside of the main stream media into denial, anger, bargaining, and depression – what some would call the first four grief stages of five. Some will feel guilt at being happy that enemies are gone. Some will feel regret that we could not unify and bring closure. Some will be angry that anyone will even be grieving.

Just as I yearn for healing and closure in my personal life, I yearn for the same for America. There will be a need to process grief once this scourge is over. America will not heal if we do not process the what and why of this loss. However, I believe God has better plans for us. Plans that are above and beyond our wildest imaginations, if we chose to accept it.

Faith

History Repeats?

Out of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, the Communards were born. As the name suggests, Karl Marx agreed with the political form of government, although he disagreed with the methodology. They followed the socialist philosophy of the 1790’s French Revolutionaries.

In a nutshell, Germany provoked France in a war with Prussia as a ruse to unite German peoples as nation-states. France invaded Germany and Germany then invaded France. They marched onward into Paris. At the time, it was one of the most heavily fortified cities.

When Germany invaded France all of the government officials and upper to middle classes fled Paris, leaving only the poor working class behind. The national guardsmen from this class wanted to form a new government called communes. Elections were held and they won.

After the win, they seized Catholic property, arrested Catholic clergy, and executed the Arch Bishop of Paris. National monuments were defaced.

Germany released French prisoners to counter, since a peace treaty had been signed. In what was called “bloody week,” many Parisians died. Some escaped, some were lined up and shot, and others faced war councils.

Though you can not fit what is happening now neatly into what I have written here, similarities do exist and lessons are to be learned. Betrayals abound, and fortifications are not foolproof. Sow violence, and you reap violence.

Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,
As on the day of Massah in the wilderness,
“When your fathers put Me to the test,
They tested Me, though they had seen My work.
For forty years I was disgusted with that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
Therefore I swore in My anger,
They certainly shall not enter My rest.”

Psalms 95:8-11 NASB

Faith

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