Hat Tip to Poe(try)

In the annals of literature, is there any greater nod to the actual art of rhythmic composition than Edgar Allan Poe? He is, in essence, the personification of poetry. As we observe this 24th day of National Poetry Month 2024, it’s a fitting occasion to mention Poe’s contributions and lasting legacy.

More than a decade ago, I wrote a post about Poe (1809-1849) on the date of his 205th birthday. Yes, he lived a long time ago! The man lived a short and somewhat varied life, dabbling in several different occupational endeavors. Rather than rehash an old post, I’m making something of a right turn by focusing on one specific poem he wrote. Continue reading “Hat Tip to Poe(try)”

Cut It Out!

As we enter the last half of April and National Poetry Month 2024, I’m enjoying the wonders of Spring re-emerging! The dandelions are out in force across our lawn and eastern meadowlarks are singing their melodic praises through my open window.

Even when there’s a hint of rain in the air (as now with a 35% chance forecasted), I savor Spring’s goodness … except for the birds that insist on nesting in the shelter of my front porch! Back in January or February, I tore down the nest they’d built last year, high and out of my reach. (I had to get out the ten-foot ladder.) How did I miss their efforts at rebuilding? Alas, I can’t say for sure, but build they did, and from the porch floor, I’m unable to see whether bird-eggs are present, so I’ll forbear – for now! Continue reading “Cut It Out!”

Basketful of Joy

Day seven of National Poetry Month 2024 and there were multiple poems I might have posted here today. However, since it’s a Sunday, I wanted to take a slightly more serious tone. (In general, I tend to lean more on the humorous side. If you can’t laugh in this life, it’s got to be pretty dismal overall. That’s not a world in which I’m very comfortable.)

Today’s sonnet celebrates my joy of living (joie de vivre). Some years ago, I remember a certain political candidate stating an opinion that there were many Americans (about half the country) who could be appropriately characterized as a “basket of deplorables.” Opinions differ, of course, and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.

Continue reading “Basketful of Joy”

The Finished Life

People die. As unpleasant as it is, it’s a fact. Overall, our culture seems mostly inured to this sobering fact. Perhaps it’s explainable (in part) with how movies depict death. If there’s lots of blood splashed across the screen, our brains dismiss it. If the script wanders into sappy sentimentalism when a character dies, we may roll our eyes and chuckle.

Image by TC Perch from Pixabay

But death is real … and none of us escapes its clutches. In solemn contemplation of Holy Week, I’ve reflected on Christ’s sacrifice. The Resurrection may be (for many) a familiar tale, but its substance and straightforward details never cease to amaze. Continue reading “The Finished Life”

Golden Books

In my last post, I mentioned there are certain digital books I’ve read over the last year which I will eventually purchase in actual hard copy format. One might naturally ask the question, Why? Since I’ve read these particular volumes digitally, what’s the point in acquiring them as hard copies? The easy answer is because I’ve found hidden treasure during my initial readings … and I anticipate more richness with each subsequent reading.

Image by Petra from Pixabay

Like most people, I may read a novel once and quickly dismiss the story line. Even with non-fiction, the content is (all too often) forgettable. But some books, I think of them as golden. Certain books, and occasionally even a few specific authors, have found a unique place, burrowing into my heart, and thus have earned an esteemed position on my bookshelf next to other Greats. (Note well, I said Greats, not necessarily Bestsellers, many of which would never qualify as great – except on the publisher’s ledger.) Continue reading “Golden Books”

Come, Let Us Worship the King

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/geralt-9301/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=4705532">Gerd Altmann</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com//?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=4705532">Pixabay</a>

Our church held Christmas Eve services yesterday. They’ve held similar services every year, I guess, but since we’re usually at home with family, this was the first time we’d taken part. The particular service we attended was designed as a family service so lots of children were in attendance. We’d been told it might be noisy … and it was.

Christmas decorations were beautifully displayed in the large foyer outside the worship center. A Christmas tree … pictures of angels painted on large canvases … a child-size Manger / Nativity scene … the kind of seasonal displays where families gather to snap a Christmas photo.

I happened to stand in front of the Manger scene and my attention was drawn in. The figures and presentation were similar to numerous displays I’ve observed through the years … but something was off. When my daughter-in-law walked up next to me, she noticed it as well. “Joseph’s foot is larger than the Baby Jesus and the manger together!” she said.

She was right. The standing figures were proportionally out of sync with the Child lying in the manger, as if two different Nativity scenes had been (carelessly) combined. I should have taken a quick picture of the scene but I found it too grotesque.

Like Mary (Luke 2:19), I’m given to pondering the inescapable irony. With all the various ways in which we celebrate Christmas, has the occasion’s central meaning (focused on the singular Person of Jesus Christ) been shoved into the background? As the shopping and gift-giving and parties and feasting keep us hyper-busy, does the Babe in a Manger recede to forgetfulness?

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Christmas! It’s a joyous time and should be celebrated with gusto and jubilance! Christ is come! Let us worship and adore Him!

Still, I’m the first to admit I can go overboard and the temptation (too often) is to get things out of balance. The unfortunate image of a shrinking Baby Jesus will stick in my brain and (I’m hopeful) nudge me to remember always the real basis for our hope, joy, peace and love — our Saviour’s birth.

May God bless you on this special day. Merry Christmas!

Each Day As God’s Gift

On Palm Sunday when we were kids, it was the custom (as we exited the church building after services) for an usher to give each of us a small palm branch to carry home. It was an odd thing, meant (I suppose) to commemorate Jesus entering Jerusalem while riding a donkey. John 12:13 tells us “they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him” and they acknowledged Jesus as “the king of Israel.”

Looking at the palm leaves (the above image is just one example), I’m struck today by their beauty and symmetry. During childhood, I think we used the branches to tickle and torment each other. Today, my usual impulse is one of contemplation. These green fronds hold the last droplets of morning dew and invite peaceful reflection. Continue reading “Each Day As God’s Gift”

Glory to God in the Highest!

It’s Christmas morning! Chart-topping pop singer Andy Williams (from a previous generation obviously) called it the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2019/11/28/12/58/christmas-4659102_1280.jpg

Based on my earliest memories, I’ve viewed the day through the same lens as Andy Williams. It’s magical — a day of mystery (gift-giving and receiving)! It’s a day for love and sharing, spending time with family and dear ones.

For all the commercialization of Christmas Day/Christmas Season, it’s easy to be side-tracked with activities and busy-ness. I try to take time every year to remind myself of the true meaning and long-lasting ramifications of this perennial celebration. It’s about Christ, the babe in a manger, the second person of the Trinity who took on flesh — not to enjoy the good life, but to DIE! The God-Man entered Time to provide eternal Life for those who receive Him as Savior.

Throughout the ages, Christmas is and has been the most wonderful time of the year! All because of God’s Gift! I’ve reprinted below the narrative as told by the physician Luke in the second chapter of his Gospel.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

As you ponder the details of this narrative, may you enjoy the blessings of knowing Christ personally. Merry Christmas to you on this amazing, special day!

A Day Like None Other

Resurrection Day was a day like none other in the history of mankind! John 20 tells us: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” The heavy stone which had been covering the entrance was rolled aside! The crucified Jesus was no longer buried within!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What a shock that must have been for the people who followed Jesus! He’d been buried in a tomb, a heavy stone was positioned and the chief priests set some kind of seal on the stone. For extra security (Matthew 27:65-66), Pilate permitted them to post a guard at the tomb. No one was getting in or out of that tomb!

Except … Jesus did! A day like none other. Continue reading “A Day Like None Other”

Behold, The Rose

The old saying “Beauty is as beauty does” was a phrase my mother used often when I was a child. Naturally, she desired to impress upon me the maxim that outer beauty is mostly irrelevant (or worthless) if there’s no inner beauty. In my teens, I might have offered this observation about the rose. It doesn’t do anything. A rose is beautiful simply because it is.

a rose in all its splendor
Image by Bessi from Pixabay

Today, we have beauty consultants, beauty tips and trends, spas and wellness clinics … all these and more revolving around the pursuit of beauty. In fact, according to one source, the $532 billion beauty industry is “growing faster than ever before.” Indeed, multiple market forces combine everyday to expand this already-significant effort at satisfying consumer demand.

A SELF magazine post from 2017 indicates women spend amazing amounts on beauty products:  $15,000 during an average woman’s lifetime, including $3,000 on mascara, another $2,000 on eyeshadows, and a whopping $1,700 on lip colors to match the multiple shades contained within one woman’s makeup bag! These are averages; some women will spend more. Ah, the pursuit of beauty does come at a hefty price. Continue reading “Behold, The Rose”