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Posts Tagged ‘poem’

Not long ago I was driving home from the city when a large sign painted roughly on a fence caught my eye:

A life lived in fear is a life half lived

I jotted it down at the next red light and then thought about it all way home.  It brought back memories of my own mother, whose life at times was quite overruled by worry and fear about many things and who, as a result, found herself limited in what opportunities she could grasp and what experiences she could fully enjoy.  It also reminded me of a poem by Davna Markova I was given many years ago:

I will not die an unlived life,

I will not go in fear

Of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,

To allow my living to open to me,

To make me less afraid,

More accessible,

To loosen my heart

Until it becomes a wing,

A torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance:

To live.

So that which came to me as seed,

Goes to the next as blossom,

And that which came to me as blossom,

Goes on as fruit.

I want to ‘inhabit my days’ too, don’t you?  I want to be fully the person God intends and has gifted me to be and not to be limited by fear of what might or might not happen.   I don’t want to get to the end of my life here on earth and realise how much I missed out on because I was unprepared to take a risk or two and step out into new territory for God.  Only to ‘half-live’ our lives seems such a waste to me – and to be honest, almost an insult to our God who created us.

Yet sometimes when I’m confronted with a particularly daunting challenge, I do feel that old fear I observed in my mother rising up in me as well.  And it’s then that I have to take a deep breath, remember I am being held in the incredibly loving arms of God and step out in his strength, knowing God will never let me falter and fall.   After all, I have the Word of God on that.  In Psalm 34:4, David testifies:  I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears, while in Psalm 27:1, he states confidently:  The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?   

I want the seed of the gifts God has given me to germinate fully, to blossom into something beautiful that will touch and encourage others, and to bear much fruit under God’s hand, just as the poet expresses above.  I might not be the most gifted or the most widely read novelist on this planet, but at the end of my life I want to be able to look back and say that at least I tried.  At least I took up God’s challenge to write, pouring my heart into the characters and storylines I created, labouring as best I could to reveal more of the heart of God to my readers.

And who knows?  Maybe, by God’s grace, there will even be the ones and twos whose lives have been touched and changed as a result.

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Recently, as I was saying goodbye to a friend at her door, she let out a small scream and stared down at a something near where we were standing.  At first, I thought she must have seen some fearsome insect or reptile, but I soon realised her scream had actually been a cry of joy.  I looked where she was pointing excitedly and saw two tiny, tiny shoots poking through the earth in a large pot, each with two miniscule leaves.  Nothing much to get so excited about, I thought.  But then she explained how, when she had looked just three or four hours earlier, they had not been there at all – and that the seeds planted there were actually sunflower seeds, a gift from a young friend soon to be married.  This friend had given such seeds to various people to plant, in the hope that, come her wedding day, enough of them would have survived and bloomed in time to be carried as bouquets at her wedding!

A beautiful idea, I thought to myself.  And then another thought came, that these two tiny, vulnerable plants that have pushed their way to the surface towards the sun are a little like our own lives, as we face another year.  There may be all sorts of things ahead that will nurture us and help us grow and flourish, yet there may also be others that will batter us and perhaps even threaten to destroy.  So I know I need assurance that, whatever happens, I am safe and secure in God’s loving care and protection.  Then I can step out into this new year with much more courage and joy, ready to tackle any challenge that may come, ready to truly live and use my gifts fully to bless and encourage others.

I have a childhood memory of a plaque my mother used to keep on our dining room sideboard, featuring the following poem by M L Haskins:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

‘Give me a light, that I might tread safely into the unknown!’

And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness

and put your hand into the hand of God!

This shall be to you better than light

and safer than a known way.’

I thought that was all there was to this poem, until I recently discovered two more lines:

So I went forth, and finding the hand of God

trod gladly into the night.

May we all find that hand of God lovingly held out to us, as we enter the new year.  May we all tread gladly into whatever 2010 will hold for us, knowing that we need not fear the night, since God is with us.

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Someone read me a beautiful poem recently that contains what I believe is one of the most important questions we could ever be asked.  The poem is ‘A Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver and ends this way:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Well, my life doesn’t quite fit the bill of being ‘wild and precious’, you might be tempted to say.  But just stop and think a minute.  I’m not sure exactly what Mary Oliver meant by ‘wild’ – yet isn’t it true that each morning when we wake up we face a whole raft of possibilities for the day ahead?  Whatever our role in life, each morning we can choose afresh how we act, how we approach the various situations that confront us, how we will respond to others along the way.  And if we consider God to be a vital part of our life, then the journey becomes even more interesting and full of possibilities.  That’s pretty wild, I reckon.

Recently, a woman who had nursed elderly people for many years commented on radio that one of the things in her experience people most regretted at the end of their lives was that they had not grasped the opportunities presented to them along the way or, in other words, had not taken more risks.  I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want to get to the end of my life and feel I had not attempted the ‘wild’ things God might have called me to do.  I have gifts and abilities.  You have gifts and abilities that can be used for good to bless and encourage others.  We all do.

And yes, my life and your life are definitely ‘precious’.  Each of us is unique.  Each of us is made in God’s image, according to Genesis 1:27.  And each of us has one opportunity to be all we were created to be, to have a positive impact in this world, to make a difference.

That inspires me to listen to God’s leading each day, to invest myself more fully in what I have been given to do, to try my best to honour God with this particular moment of my ‘one wild and precious life’.

I hope you find Mary Oliver’s question equally fascinating and challenging.

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