Burdens

I’ve been surprised many times at how strong the connection is between my mind and my body. Thoughts may not be tangible, but there is no denying that they have tangible effects on how my body works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be). My doctor told me years ago that the symptoms I described to him were not a disease—they were the natural (and quite common, he assured me) results of stress. The cure was not medicine, but a quieter mind. Easier said than done. The good news is we’re not alone: Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7 invite us to cast our burdens on the Lord, who cares for his children. Galatians 6:2 also encourages God’s people to imitate their Saviour and “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”

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Peace And Rest

After the busy, noisy celebration of Christmas, the slower pace and restfulness of this week between Christmas and New Year’s is refreshing. But if the good news we just celebrated is true, then peace and rest mean much more than a temporary time of relief in our schedule. There is a peace and rest available to us that is deep enough to remain even in the most hectic times, and secure enough to withstand the most severe troubles. This peace and rest came to us because of Christmas, but they are not presents—they are found in a person. That’s what I’ve tried to capture in these two poems:

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Two Powerful Skills You Already Have

Walking and eating are two of the most fundamentally basic human skills—the kind of things we learn in infancy. But I have found that walking and eating are also two of the most powerful contexts for experiencing human connection. What do we suggest when we want to see someone? More often than not, it involves eating at some point. Or walking. Or both.

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Heroes and Villains

One of my favourite things about a good story is the character development. I love it when I can watch someone in the story growing and changing and learning as the circumstances they face force them to make decisions and live with the consequences of their mistakes or taste the rewards of their sacrifices. Some of my favourite characters in literature are far from perfect, but they reflect our common humanity and they teach me something about how our personal character—for good or for evil—is forged slowly in the furnace of decisions. Even our small, daily choices will be motivated and directed either towards a love for self above all, or a love for God that expresses itself in love for others. Over time, these choices shape us. These choices make us. That’s what I was thinking about when I wrote this triple poem (is a triple poem even a thing? Anyway, it is now):

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Freedom

For my whole life I have lived in free societies, from growing up in America to now living in Ireland. In the long span of human history, and even in the world today, I know that I am in the minority to be able to live with this level of freedom. I also know that the freedoms I enjoy (and so often take for granted) did not come easily. Freedom is a gift, not a given. It is won and maintained only with effort and care. That’s what this poem is about:

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A Living Poem

One of the reasons I love poetry is because of the power it has to make ordinary language come alive in new and different ways. But of course, when I say “come alive” that’s only a poetic phrase—I don’t actually mean that poems could ever really live. Or could they?

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Airplanes

I spent a large portion of the last couple of days in airports and airplanes, and it’s always amazing to me to think of—and participate in—humanity’s (relatively) new ability to fly. Still, no matter how fast we can get there, the reality is that we can only ever be in one place or another, never both. That’s what this poem is about:

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We Cry Out

We’ve been working our way through Romans in our local Bible study group, and last week we talked about the part in chapter 8 where Paul writes this:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

As I’ve read the news this week, I have thought about these verses often. I feel it in my own heart: I am groaning inwardly. The whole world is groaning in pain. But the beauty of this passage is not in its realism, although the realism is important. We dare not downplay the pain. It is too real, too horrible, too heavy. In a global moment like this, we simply cannot ignore the brokenness of our world, or pretend that everything is fine. It’s not fine. At all. And yet, we see in these verses that although reality includes pain and groaning right now, reality is more than those things—there is a hope that is just as real—even more so. That’s what I tried to capture in this poem:

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