Subdue my unconcern with little sins,
Death in installments, small sips of decay,
Rebellions I would rather overlook.
Correct the imperfection in the lens
Through which I see and fail to see the way
I idolize the gods that I forsook.
How can you redeem what I have done?
I have sought solace in sin,
worshiped idols, chose
self over you.
you are sovereign still,
ruler over every realm.
But how I rebel,
myself as well as
those I love
less than I love myself
but more than I love you.
I have no excuse,
no plea but your pardon,
no hope but your help.
that I might be useful,
May it be.
Redeem even me.
Sadness is a growing thing.
It is watered by frustrated plans,
fed by unfulfilled affections,
lengthened by loss.
Sadness is a subtle thing.
Unchecked, it soon can choke
life and love and laughter
as grief sours and
Sadness is a frail thing.
It breaks open and spills out
at the slightest touch.
Sadness is a fleeting thing,
a fading thing.
It is disarmed by a deeper truth,
held in perspective by purpose,
and will be redeemed
at the coming of the one
whose love was never lost.
He will wipe away every tear.
What good are words, and what will they achieve?
For they are small before the might of hate
And faulty too: they bend beneath the weight
Of generations. Can we e’er relieve
The burdens under which our brothers heave,
All hoping against hope that soon the wait
Will end in rest, in justice, in a state
Of peace and love and welcome? Now, we grieve,
For hope remains a hope, a thing unseen,
Desire unsatisfied, dream unfulfilled.
Bring justice, Lord, grant peace, and intervene.
Convict and humble us till we are stilled.
Let tragedy be not the final scene.
Let now the hard soil of our souls be tilled.
A dove is nesting near the stairs in the apartment building where I live.
Doves have long captured my attention. When I was a boy, doves would often nest in a hanging basket in the backyard of our house. From the back door, you could see them clearly, and you could hear them cooing during the day as you moved throughout the house. The doves always seemed so gentle, so peaceful, so patient as we watched them. I’m sure our presence made them nervous, but they remained fixed in spite of our movement.
As I passed the dove the other day, I noticed an egg next to her in the nest, a small sign of new life. At the close of a month filled with murder, mourning, and madness, a month when the world seemed to be coming undone all around us, the sight of this dove and her egg were a relief to my weary heart, a reminder that all is not lost. In a world steeped in death and darkness, new life still springs forth.
The scene reminded me of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “God’s Grandeur” (see the link to the poem below). Hopkins begins his poem with a captivating assertion: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” The grandeur of God goes largely unnoticed, however. Men do not heed him, do not seem to respect his good creation. The constant plodding of the generations has desensitized us, wearing on our souls as well as on the earth itself. Hopkins recognizes that a world of grandeur has grown almost dreary. It isn’t difficult to understand his point. Our world feels hopelessly lost. We feel hopelessly lost.
But Hopkins finds hope in this world as well. “And for all this,” he writes, “nature is never spent.” No sear, blear, smear, smudge, or smell can kill the freshness of the Lord’s world. Every nightfall is soon followed by a daybreak. The Lord remains at work, bringing life and light to our death and darkness.
Admittedly, the death and the dark seem unconquerable at times. When our news feeds are filled with injustice after injustice, when our homes are invaded by sickness and sorrow, and when our souls are shaken by chaos and storm, we can lose sight of “the dearest freshness deep down things.” But, like the dove, “the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” God has not forsaken his creation. The promise of redemption still stands. “The light shines in the darkness,” John writes, “and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). In spite of all appearances to the contrary, the daybreak will come.
Read the full poem here.
Paul was surprisingly bold.
I can’t remember ever feeling as broken as I felt on Good Friday.
This year seems to pose more challenges than any year in recent memory. Sure, every year carries tragedies, horrors, and unwelcome interruptions to the status quo, but 2020 seems to have hit the bad news quota for the year by April. And it’s still going strong.
Death’s shadow looms o’er us, but we fear not,
For with us walks the life, the light, of men,
Sov’reign o’er ev’ry plague, problem, and plot,
Perfect in power, faithful yet again.
You have been with us, will be with us still,
Though days be long and lonely in the land.
We feel the curse. So many are so ill.
God, this is not the future we had planned.
But you are e’er at work, and so we wait.
And we believe (but help our unbelief).
Let faith grow more than worry for our fate.
Let worship be our joy and our relief.
O Lord, you give. O Lord, you take away.
O let your name be blessed by us this day.
I know I ought to be in awe of you,
To walk in holy fear,
For you are far and you are near,
Both present and surpassing all I know.
But as I go,
I often show
Ambivalence or apathy and throw
My heart to fleeting treasures here.
Reform my faith this year
And fill my soul with love for what is true.