I hope you had a good celebration this Easter. There really is nothing better in the world to celebrate—the resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Here’s a short poem I wrote as I thought about what Easter means for my future:
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:
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:
It’s traditional in Ireland to give chocolate selection boxes at Christmas, with a variety of different treats inside. I can’t share chocolate with you over the internet, so I’ve put together a different kind of selection box for you, full of different kinds of Christmas treats from different kinds of people. Enjoy!
Science has limitations. It can tell us what things are made of, but it has trouble telling us what they are made for. Sometimes, if you want to explain the world fully, what you really need is a poem. Most of my poems come to me while I’m walking home after dropping the children to school, looking around at the world and trying to see the familiar things that surround me for what they really are. That’s where these three came from:
This poem is an old one, which I posted here on my blog three years ago (it’s hard to believe the blog has been going that long). I am re-posting it today because most of you wouldn’t have seen it back then, and also because I’ve been thinking about these ideas a lot recently as I’ve worked on the manuscript for “Dream Small.” When the book comes out, you’ll see that one of the chapter titles uses a phrase from this poem—I’ve called it, “The Upside-Down Ladder.” I have to say, though, that the original inspiration for this poem came from a scene in “Hind’s Feet on High Places,” by Hannah Hunard, a book I highly recommend.
The history of Ireland is written in stone—crumbling stone—in the ancient walls and castles and cottages and churches dotted all across her landscape. I find them constantly fascinating, which I’m sure has something to do with the fact that I came here from a country that wasn’t covered in such tangible monuments to the past. When I look at them, they remind me that life is short, history is long, and the possessions and power that humans collect here on earth are only temporary.
Last week, our family stumbled across the ruined mansion of a man who was powerful and important, in the extreme. It was enormous. Even in ruins, it still impresses. But among the ruins, there was a statue that had toppled from its place in the Big Wind of 1839, and when it fell, the head broke off and was never recovered. Psalm 146 tells us to put our trust in the Lord, not in the power of mortal princes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more vivid picture of this warning than that statue of a man who was the head of all of Ireland, whose head has never been recovered. As I thought about what we had seen, I wrote this poem: