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Lent Poems

This year for Lent, instead of doing something that had absolutely no significance for my spiritual life at all, such as giving up candy or some such thing, I decided to d something with a bit more meaning. So every day of Lent, I tried to write at least one poem a day, and all of them somehow connected with my walk with Christ. I must say, I think they contain some of my best work to-date. I do love English! :)

You won't get every single allusion. Don't worry about it, many of them are private and wouldn't make any sense to anybody but me. But there are relatively few of those. I'll try to explain where I think an explanation is necessary for appreciation of the poem.

2/9/05 Ash Wednesday
Oh God, you give me the feeling of a spring day in February.
Oh god, you give me the feeling of hearing an old song, and knowing just when I heard it last—a summer evening or a school 
Oh God, you give me the feeling of reliving the highest and happiest days of my childhood!
Oh God, you give me the feeling of the last day of school and the first morning of summer vacation.
Oh God, you give me the feeling of waking up before the rest of the house to ride my bike before breakfast.
Oh God, you give me the feeling of sitting in the Climbing Tree, reading a book or writing in my diary as green light pours 
down on me.
Oh God, you give me the feeling of a summer day with a cousin, picking raspberries in the afternoon and playing “jungle” in 
the woods in the evening.
Oh God, may your joy strengthen me through all my life—
The child is the mother of the woman, but God is father of the child!

[Allusion: "The child is father of the man", My Heart Leaps Up, William Wordsworth, 1807]

[This one is a conversation between the speaker and Christ. The speaker's words are on the left, Christ's are indented.]

Let me kiss your fingers,
		Your eyelid and your cheek,
		Let me kiss your forehead
The instep of your feet.
		Let me kiss your hair,
Your hand the nail once pierced,
		Wash you in my blood,
Rinse you with my tears.

Thank you, Lord, for answering prayer.
For calling me to teach for you,
For showing me a place to learn,
For telling me where to look for my keys!
I am not amazed that no prayer is too large for you—
	The mountains must move, and the light obeys your word.
I am only amazed that no prayer is too small for you!—
	The lilies of the field know your voice.
Oh great and mighty Emperor,
Who is not too high to kneel beside me!
Who loves his daughter enough to watch her purse when she leaves it somewhere,
Who is not too occupied guiding the stars to arrange a happy coincidence.
Thank you that I, who am too small to imagine a galaxy,
Am not too small for you to love.

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
But I see so much gold and silver, wherever I look around!
And those apples of glancing gold—
That gold is just a copy of the real thing,
A thought of it.
It cannot possibly shine as bright as the true crimson fruit!

So let me say the only words left to me
That are not imitation:
	Oh God, I myself love you
		With all my heart.
	Let me love you—You, oh my Lord!—
		Even more and more!

Living God, who reveals himself through symbols,
King of Holiness, who gave a blueprint of a temple in heaven,
Prince of all Fact and Truth, who made many copies of the greatest story for people who lived through history,
Thank you for writing me in!
My current state of being—I am a symbol of me.
I await in eager expectation the redemption of my body,
When I will no longer need a mirror, for the inside will match the outside.
I long to see redeemed Creation,
A new Nature to revel in,
A new body to dance in,
A greater city to live in,
And a purer light to see in!

[Romans 8:19]

I’ve believed in you for all my life;
I know that you exist.
So great, so high above all that I know and understand,
Holy, respected, and feared.
What I cannot understand,
Is why you believe in me!

You called me according to your purpose.
Having called me, you destined me—
You knew I could and will do the things you need for me to do.
You knew, so you believed in me—
Still believe in me!
After all my failures, through all my faults.
It blows me out of the water!
If you know I can do these things,
	Then through your strength, I can.
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength,
Through Him I believe in—for He believes in me!

[Romans 8:28-30, Philippians 4:13]

The love stories I like the best
Are when the lover takes a knife or a bullet for his beloved.
When he pays for his love with pain.
When she sacrifices for him as well,
And he makes her better in his arms.
Oh Christ, you have called yourself the bridegroom
And your Church the bride.
The greatest lover! Not only taking the scourge and the shame,
But the nail, the cross, the spear!
I don’t need a fellow man to die for me—
	You did it already!
And I sacrifice myself to you,
And you heal me in your arms.
The greatest story ever told—
	Indeed. Indeed, it is.

You left a throne where cherubs knelt before you
To kneel beneath the lash.
You left the feel of seraph wings’ caress
To feel men lower than dust spit on your cheek.
You left a city where there is no night
To a place where the darkness came at noon.
You departed from a city paved in gold
To trudge through alleys that reeked with the blood of lambs.
You were clothed in honor and glory,
Then hung naked and ashamed on a cross while your robes were gambled for.
You set aside a crown that never tarnishes
And received one that bore blood like rust.
The mountain of the Almighty you traded
For the hill of the skull.
From the giver of life to men,
	to be hung by them,
You came, you, saw, you died.
		Then—you conquered death.

Thank you for a February afternoon that felt like spring,
A person to talk to,
Friends to laugh with,
Music to listen to,
Movies to watch,
Food in my stomach,
Air in my lungs,
Knowledge in my mind,
Emotions in my heart.
Teach me through all my frustrations,
My angers,
My shames,
My sorrows,
To remember your grace
On a February afternoon that felt like spring.

Thank you for speaking to me in a way I can never forget.
For when people tell me you do not exist,
That all such beliefs are lies, are glorious happy lies,
I remember feeling your voice’s resonation in my chest,
And I know you are there,
Just beyond where I can reach,
For at times I see the train of your robe as if you just slipped around the corner before me.
So I have felt the echoes of your voice through these imperfect organs
And seen your shadow cast on the lawn.
One day, make me pure in heart,
And I shall see God.
I am already blessed.

[Matthew 5:8]

2/17/05—1 Cor 16:13
I will not be a coward.
I will not sit back and be vague about God.
I will not just say what’s popular, what people want to hear.
I won’t just call God some vague benevolent creator,
I won’t say that whatever you think is right, is right.
I will declare fearlessly that there is one truth,
That there is one way.
I will declare these things, even if all the world spits on me,
Mocks me,
Beats me to the ground.
I will not be a coward.
I will be a warrior for the truth.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black in this pit from pole to pole,
I look over the sad remains
Of my deceived and conquered soul.

In the fell clutch of sinful flesh
I never winced nor cried aloud.
It was my hand bludgeoned Christ;
His head bloody, mine unbowed.

I stubbornly kept my eyelids shut,
Preferring my self-made shade,
And the menace of coming death
Found me of judgment unafraid.

It mattered to me not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll—
I was the master of my fate,
I was the captain of my soul.

["Invictus", by William Ernest Henley]

Full fathoms high thy father lies
Of gold are his bones made
Those are lamps that were his eyes
Nothing of him doth survive
But that doth suffer a Christ-change
Into something rich and strange.
Angels hourly ring his knell.
Ding dong.
—Triumphant sound, that hails a birth!
Ding-dong bell.

["Full Fathom Five" from The Tempest by William Shakespeare]