Polaris

December 4, 2013

take my hand and walk outside
open your eyes and look up–
do you see the stars? how they twinkle?
beloved, i love you like the stars love shinin’
burning bright in their courses as they spin and fly;
that’s the way my heart is when i see your smile:
blue flame explosions.

and when the dawn comes and you
go about your business under the golden fire
of our loving sun, remember that i am a lesser light
still shining out there in the haze behind his rays
and even when you can’t see my eyes,
trust and believe that i burn for you.

and one night, when it’s dark,
much too dark to see your way forward,
don’t be afraid, my love–just look up
and find me, out there in the distance,
close enough to touch,
burning, pining, perishing;

i will help you find home.

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spark

August 31, 2013

i know my joy is incomplete
until i find it completely in You
so i approach, head bowed
heart burdened
not daring to look up
even when i reach
the top of the hill
and wait
eyes downcast
breath stilled
hoping
for a spark

“the cross is a blazing fire”

at Your feet
nail-pierced and eye-level
i wait, unsure,
i hear your tortured breathing
i feel something hit my shoulder
not fire, but red

my heart is dry these days
withered by desert wind,
little life left in
these bruised reeds,
yet You invite me closer
weary and heavy-laden as i am
you promise rest
and rest i need
but i also need fire

my loveless heart is a smoldering wick
and my burdened soul is bruised by
the weight you’ve taken off my back
though i still bend under the memory of it.

dry
cold
coarse
numbness
creeping in,
i stumble forward
believing despite my unbelief
toward the fire
hoping for Your spark to
bring life again.

=====

“The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough to it for its sparks to fall on us.” –John Stott

two hands.

August 5, 2013

her hand
is surprisingly small and delicate
for the great strength it contains
stirring soup pots and wiping noses
painting plates and scratching behind dog-ears,
an encyclopedia of activity measured
in the motion of metacarpals.

her hand
feels natural, comfortable, when i hold it
as it is both an anchor to keep me grounded
and a life-vest to keep me above the waterline.
her hopeful hand holds on tightly, confidently,
squeezing gently when the tensions of my tired mind
make my fingers clench too hard,
a soft reminder that it’s okay
i’m okay
i just need to breathe.

Your hand
holds us both and hems us in
keeps us and guides us
protects us and sustains us
and into Your hands i commit my hopeful plans
because they are too beautifully terrifying
for me to try to hold up
on my own.

dust

July 23, 2013

thorns and thistles at my ankles
sweat beading my brow
and this soil
just
won’t
turn
over.

futility is an untilled field
in the dusty heat of summer
when the planting season was missed
and the only chance for survival
is a bitter battle against
the cursed earth.

my own fault.
my own fault.
not the woman.
not the snake.
mine.
i must own this.

and so i fight the earth,
tearing at the hill with
stone and stick and bloody hands
and only the hope that these few drops
sweat and blood
mingled with mud
may yet produce life.

there is a promise coming.
until He comes, i toil.

how did this magic come to be
that my hand bonds to yours
so naturally, like magnets
drawn together by
invisible forces, lines
of indelible attraction
pulling each constantly
toward the other?

it may be the same enchantment
that now makes me take notice of
blue mason jars and
giraffes and daisies, when
i’d never before given them
a second thought.

i find myself collecting keepsakes,
ticket stubs and playbills and postcards
in a blue lunchbox (bigger on the inside–
which is also how my heart feels lately,
swelling with each new wave of affection).

today, i celebrate you, my dear.
i never expected, a year ago,
that a sweltering Wednesday in
this hothouse June
could mean as much to me
as this day
your day
does.

my heart is on an airplane headed north
and yet my soul still sings, because You
are my true strength and best song.
and when i am with her, I praise You
and when i am away from her, I seek You
and when i remember her kindness, i see
a glimpse of Your generous provision of
words to buoy my sinking heart
hope to lift my doubting eyes
warmth to dispel my chilly isolation–
gifts that point to a gracious Giver.

for You are my greatest desire,
and so she must never be, for
she was never meant to bear
all my hope and need and weakness–
the shoulders meant to carry those
burdens bore cross-timber and sin-weight
in my stead.

all she must be is a signpost of glory
a shadow of the brighter promise
a joyous reminder of my joyful final home
and in her arms, i am both known and still waiting
to be known fully by my soon-returning King.

my heart is on an airplane headed north,
and when she returns, we will praise our
beloved King together and anticipate the
beauty of His arrival.

(By request, the poem I wrote three months ago–this is what happens when an English major dates someone incredible…)

===

“was this the face that launched a thousand ships?”
perhaps, but i know my own little bark is now fully adrift
and i have no one but you to blame,
my helen, my penelope–yet
could you be the promised end to my wanderings,
closing the book on the sirens and scyllas
the cyclopses and calypsos
the almost-but-not-quite nausicaa’s
that have plagued my battered, storm-tossed heart
and left me clinging to driftwood
and praying for home?
if only there were a Chorus to confirm what my
too-frequently-confused heart
now holds resolutely to be true,
i could raise my arms in defiance
of all the lesser gods and monsters
that presume to stand between me and thee,
mistress of my bright hope.

note from a phonebooth.

June 14, 2013

in these four glass walls
I spin faster and faster
(changing from mild-mannered to Something More)
preparing to face the enemies that
threaten from all sides, and
in the quiet at the center of the vortex,
i block out the shouts and snarls,
close my eyes and retreat into the
steady hum of my own rotation. in that
swirling stillness, i think of you at your keyboard,
typing, brow creased, intent–
and i smile, because i know that
you’re the hero for many who will never
know my name or see me soar,
and your words are the ones that will
inspire people to step into the light

i want you to know, though you may not
believe it, that you inspire me in more ways
than I can begin to count–you who drew me
away from icy solitude and into the warmth
of the happier sun

i don’t know what’s coming, or what may fall
from the skies, but if need be, i will
face down Doomsday to defend you,
no matter the cost, because to me you are
the jewel of all worlds,
unique and precious and praiseworthy.

ode #4

May 29, 2013

i don’t write for you enough.
please don’t take it personally–i don’t
write for me anymore either.

but i feel i owe you a note or two,
a few lines of insufficient praise
to try to convey my ever-increasing
affections:

sweet girl, you are my cool breeze
my waking-up-after-a-Sunday-nap feeling
my roadtrip-karaoke-with-the-windows-down
my gentle-moonlight-dappling-evening-tides

the best of my days are spent in your company,
and when you’re away, you’re not away–
you’re in my heart
my thoughts
my silent prayers of thanksgiving.

there is more to say,
more words to gather and join together
like rolled-up leaves on paper trees.
if you would be kind enough to stay,
i’ll spend as long as it takes to
try to say them all.

“hard for me”

in the midst of my laments and pleas of
deliverance from snarling lions,
You remind me that these foes
surrounding me are the ones i am to serve
with waist-tied towel and washbasin.
this is hard for me to remember.

in the throes of defensiveness and self-pity
You rebuke gently, reminding me that
i don’t always walk the path of the righteous,
and though there is grace, there are
also consequences, because i am Your son,
and those You love, You discipline.
this is hard for me to recognize.

in the cold shadow of approaching despair,
as i sigh and limp and fret over
every foolish, thoughtless error,
Your hand grasps my shoulder and
straightens my slumped back, making me
walk upright. Your hand remains,
steadying me with gentleness and strength.
this is hard for me to receive.

=====

“(un)belief”

in this moment
my eyes are fastened on the ground
clouding with tears

my heart is heavy
full to brimming with the shame of
such a sloppy life, lived shabbily
in the face of such
unspeakable kindnesses

i shudder at the nearness of You

i deserve nothing but
Your reproach for such a
sorry, half-hearted accounting

You step forward and i wince.
Your arms wrap around me and
You pull me into the warm folds of
Your shining robes

a sob escapes my constricted throat as
i hear Your whisper, ringing like
thunder in my chest:

“YOU ARE WASHED
YOU ARE SANCTIFIED
YOU ARE JUSTIFIED
IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
AND BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD”

i believe
i believe, my Lord and my God
i believe

help my unbelief