November Fog

tree-and-fog

Yesterday morning, I sat in church and looked out into the fog surrounding the little white clapboard building. The mist was grey-white and dense as wool. I thought of what I’ve been learning about reaching out to people in need, and I realized that often we let a fog settle over our vision. We don’t want to see the need. It’s too much. It’s overwhelming. So we hide it in mist and, as long as we don’t know, maybe we won’t have to think about it.

But when God works in our hearts–watch out. If you reach out just once, if you feel the joy of touching a life that God puts in your path, beware! It is addicting, revealing, humbling, and awe-inspiring. It is heart-breaking and incredible. 

I am convinced that our Father made us to touch one another and be His tools in patching up broken souls. Yesterday, the November fog reminded me of that, birthing this poem.


November fog,

Like the fog I allow to fall in my eyes, shades the colors of the world,

Hides the Browned and Bitter fallen, shrouds the bare branches cold-robbed of clothes.

I cannot see.

November fog,

The mist of suspended belief, hiding in earth-clouds the season’s Truth.

And I plunge into it unseeing, happily ignorant of a world groaning, growing old.

I will not see.

But did you ever see

A November fog melt in autumnal glare?

Yellow-gold spear tear the curtain from

Sky to soil, and Glory lay the earth bare?

Did you ever, finally, see?

Watch leaves blaze with joy, tremble hope, blush agony, drop grief?

And were you ever brought to knees

By beauty and pain untouched, unloved?

A Painter sparkled the blushing, beaming trees,

And spangled hearts with life.

And every fall He sings the woods to sleep,

Tucking them tight into mossy nests and snow-satin sheets.

And He took on a heart to feel Himself the pain of hearts,

Found, bought, loved this very heart of mine,

But still I lose my way in November fog,

Forgetting to see the hearts, the trees.

November fog clears–my sight with it–

And how can I regret the revealing Light?

The blaze lights the way, reveals deep places I never imagined,

Intensities of colors, colors of shade, shades of hearts.

Autumn sun and I both finally wake to the stark-laid need of the vivid world,

The way the summer is curling up into rest,

The way hearts are curling up into self,

Waiting for the fog to part and some warm light to finally see them and love them.

Yes.

Now, I think I see the colors of the leaves.


“We know and, to some extent realise, the love of God for us because Christ expressed it in laying down his life for us. We must in turn express our love by laying down our lives for those who are our brothers. But as for the well-to-do man who sees his brothers in want but shuts his eyes—and his heart—how could anyone believe that the love of God lives in him? My children, let us not love merely in theory or in words—let us love in sincerity and in practice!”

 – 1 John 3:16-18, Phillips paraphrase –

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The Mist

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“A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.”

 – Anne Bronte –

Orange and gold, the fireball

Arrested my attention with light millions of miles from home.

The gold trail sneaked over the heads of the trees and fell across the lake,

Still, silent, all-brightening.

The mists started climbing the warming air,

Air convected by a distant, near, all-present flame.

Over the skin of the water, sometimes blue, gray, green,

The mists rose in columns and drifted in untraceable, rolling threads of vapor.

Sun lit across the rising, blowing cirrus wisps, and the air itself shone with glory,

Wisps that will disappear in the later heat of day.

I sat on the dock in the mist and watched the sun golden itself on the visible currents,

And I thought how life is a vapor, and my God like the sun.

Soon, my mist will blow away and shimmer free in the heat of life,

But now, while it is morning,

I will rise up and catch the Sun’s rays.

A mist with a message, I will glow in the gold of a distant, near, all-present Flame.


Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

 – John 8:12, NKJV –


Why I Can’t Rescue You

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“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

– Vance Havner –

They say an eagle will push her chick from the nest to teach it flight,

But I see you plummeting with no downy back in sight

To bear up underneath you, to catch you before gravity overwhelms.

Your face stills, dry of laughter as desert bones,

Your hands lay unmoved in your lap. I know

That there must be something to do, some way to break in.

Jagged incisor-tooth mountains of fear taunt you,

And I grab up a stick to keep them at bay, wondering who

Else would come to rescue if I don’t.

Your closet holds monsters I can’t see, monsters of memory

And deeper scars than routine life reveals, and heavy mysteries

That bow your soul, stoop your shoulders.

You walk a moon-basked road lined with hidden pain that leaps

Upon you every chance it can, creeps

Upon you, leaves you breathless again.

They say an eagle catches the chick she made to fall…

But I am not an eagle, I find, not at all.

Too few feathers, and can’t fly myself.

I tried to be your desert fount and found not joy enough

To irrigate the desolation of a true-thirsty soul. Not enough.

My joy ran dry in trying it.

I shook my stick at the mountains, and they bit

Back with all their craggy wrath, and I never before knew it–

How feeble a stick is against a face of stone.

I brought out a candle to shine into your closet of fears,

And found there dark that swallowed all my mustered light in tears,

So my light wasn’t light enough.

And your moon-bright path of anguish lurking is a path barred

To all but one. Yourself, the scarred,

Must walk it alone.

This is why I can’t rescue you.

My wings, joy-fount, my stick too,

Stub of candle, company…all not enough.

So maybe I’ve been sent for this instead,

To play John and shout out the Lamb’s coming tread

Upon the dry sands of your soul.

To tell you the Eagles are coming before very long,

That the plummet ends in feathered wing, not from

An untimely meeting with the ground.

To run ahead and call out to you the coming end of desert,

Proclaim a day free from burning sun, a coming rest

Where joy will spring unhindered from a truer Fount.

I searched and found a surer Mountain-Slayer than my stick,

A Mountain-Layer, Molder, Engraver, to whom they are toothpicks,

With hands strong-tender enough to hold the fears at bay, and hold you.

I’ll come to you and blush color in praise, like a dawning sky

Crowns the rising of day’s king as he lifts his gold eye on high,

For a Light comes, light enough for every darkest closet you have.

And your lonely road–pain-wracked, thorn-tangled way?

He that molded the soft moon molded, too, that dark way

And meets you there, He who, too, is the Scarred.

This is why I cannot rescue you, be your savior, make it all right and good,

But maybe every sad thing, after all, is coming untrue, and would

You let me walk into believing it with you?


“I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
    Where will my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
    the maker of heaven and earth.”

– Psalm 12:1-2, CEB –

An Ode to the One Who is Not a Wave

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Oh rock! immovable by the surf, immutable in the froth of change,

As I, ocean inconstant, wavering, digressing, mulling again and again, chase up and down the shore.

You glisten and glow in the dawn, undaunted by my surf, a range

Of immaculate, solid goodness, refuge to wind-tossed kites, lonely gulls’ moor,

While I, restless surface, marred goodness, toss and strain in an endless race for the sand.

 

Oh moon! drawer of my unseen depths, quickener of all my hidden things,

Wresting me in whirling tides out of stagnation–serene, wild, terrible pull.

Grace irresistible, hold unbreakable, patient hounding of all my vagrant ways,

Bring me at last to the haven, to rest, to sand-sodden home, to artful

Reflection of your dear, down-cast face, clearest copy of your beam.

 

Deepest one! a floor to my rushings, undergirder of all my stablished ways,

Erupter of steam, holder of secrets, haven to creation’s abyssal dark, conceiving the trapped-up glow

Of fire-mountains beneath my tracks; in you, my surest foundation, yawning mysteries stay

Forever deep and holy in the uncharted, unfathomed places of your beauty. I know

My own depths are upheld by your strength; your unbounded chasm is my rest.

 

Dear one! you who are not a wave, this ode proclaims your unwavering traits:

Rock to my vacillating, moon to my torpor, floor to my flood–

You my border, my crown, my surrounding. Yet, you also fill me, permeate

My every atom, warm my waters with the heat of joy; what is this wonder?

That on every side you are greater, higher, deeper: yet still you love.


 

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.”

– Psalm 139:17-18, NASB –

Harbinger of Mercy

Sunrise


 by Shelbie Williams,

October 7, 2011

“Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.”

– Isaiah 60:1-2, NKJV –


When morning paints the thin air gold

And stencils the clouds with silver linings,

Then all the dark hills their life-green unfold,

The rocks like embers gleaming.

 

Oh, Morning, harbinger of mercy’s store,

Creation of the Most High Lord,

Declare thy Maker’s praise the more,

With snowy clouds and flowers’ bud.

 

As this live sun unfolds its ray

To shine on my o’erflowing heart,

It faithfully sprints on the race of day,

Rejoicing in the morning’s start.

 

Maker, Father, Redeemer, Lord,

What faithfulness is Yours!

Before mornings were, Your plan was formed,

The first morn blushed awake when You gave the word.

 

Night soon did fall, and with it man,

But morning came again, just the same.

Unshaken in Your sovereign plan,

O God, You loved beyond our shame.

 

Though day and night pressed on for years,

Darkness reigned, and with it tears

Of sorrow, grief, and sin,

But sun-drops of light could still get in.

 

But hush! Look up! The Morning Star

Has dawned. Bow down and give Him awe.

For the dark has gone–true light now shines,

Piercing this darkest heart of mine.

 

Each morning as the sun peeks out

Into a world still sinning,

I believe that soon a morn will come

And Light will have no ending.

 

Oh Morning, harbinger of mercy’s store,

Shout praise unto Salvation’s Lord.

Declare thy Maker’s praise still more,

For Night has fallen ‘neath His victory sword.

Where Are You?

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The first time two souls went running,

What if nothing had gotten in their way?

If the briars and blood were all the answer

In the garden ruined by rebels that day?

On ground first stained with brother’s blood,

What if no curse was ever spoken?

What if murder was the natural thing,

Sure sign of power, not of true things broken?

Globe fast hurtling through space,

What if nothing held its spin in check?

If not a drop of care or thought

Was given to this blue-green speck?

Hearts wrung, strung along on faith

Constructed on dreams of sinking sand.

What if these were all to hope for,

Our wishful thoughts the only plan?

But God said, “Where are you?”

And rebel hearts must quake,

For none can hide the dark inside,

Or restore to new, or life awake.

Again, the call, “Where are you?”

Still-broken souls rejoice,

For a Judge to call means justice lives,

At least there’s meaning in the void.

But He once cried, “Where are you?”

And that time t’was God who died.

“Oh Father, You’ve forsaken me”

True justice and pure grace collide.

By the tomb she wept, “Where are you?”

By Mary’s side He was alive,

And Thomas, doubting, inwardly echoed,

The question that Mary had cried.

To the clouds Christ soon ascended

And now clouds await His returning shout

To His Bride, “Where are you?”

At last the joy destroying doubt.

Still He repeats “Where are you?”

Till all His sheep are in.

God’s call delivering the sentence,

God’s own answer absolving sin.

As Morning Arises

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“For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

– Colossians 2:9-10 –


 My Jesus, Thy kindness, as morning arises,

Breaks light o’er the shadows of sickness and pain.

Your love inexpressible, patiently wrestling,

Striving with me as this Jacob says

“Bless me, my Lord!”

In Your goodness and power,

You reply softly, “Why do you doubt?

My love, you are Mine, and always will be.

Look now–thy blessings are bought,

Ready and waiting, more vast than the sea.”

My Lord, oh, my Lord, hear my joyful cry,

My life made abundant in Him crucified.

For long before my anxious pleas,

God sent His blessing–the Prince of Peace.

Someday soon a morn will arise

With healing and beauty and glory again,

Restoring completely this globe wrecked by sin,

The Prince in His fullness to come as reigning King.

My Jesus, Thy kindness, as morning arises,

Breaks joy over my heart, a blessed refrain.

Give me eyes to see that in You I am complete,

As redemption draws closer and the groaning world waits.