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Tag Archives: Bible character

Vicarious (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

A few weeks ago an acquaintance sent me a newly published book of her poems. They were simple but beautiful in their first-person expression of praise, love, and gratitude to God—a collection of modern psalms. I reacted to that book like I have to other similar ones, asking myself, why don’t I write more overtly spiritual poetry? I ask because writing about spiritual subjects is hard for me to do.

I’m not sure why. It may be because I fear using theological jargon and worn-out phrases, thus slipping into cliché. (It certainly does take thought and attention to relate spiritual experiences and express convictions and emotions with fresh language that avoids being trite, maudlin, or sentimental.) Or I might avoid that kind of writing because many of my convictions don’t fit the politically correct social climate of the day and so the poems come whiny or like a rant.

As I look over the overtly spiritual poetry I have written, I feel that the poems that have come to me the most easily and naturally are the persona poems. In these I’ve tried to get into the head space of a Bible character.

Preparation to write these got me studying characters in the Bible and imagining their thoughts and feelings as they faced specific circumstances. I often fictionalized how that moment was a catalyst to growth in faith or rejection of it.

Several years ago I wrote a collection of these based on Bible women. Here are two from that collection.

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Image: Pixabay

Miriam

(Based on Exodus 15:19-21)

Though I lived under the bright
Egyptian sun these many years
my sky went black the day Moses left.

Even his return with snake-rod
didn’t banish the clouds
hovering on my horizon.

Premonition dampened
my celebration when we crossed
out of Goshen into the wilderness.

Dust of approaching chariots
was my nightmare
entering the day.

But somewhere on that black
step-by-step sea crossing
I walked through fear to faith.

I taught Moses to sing.
Now he gives that gift back to me
Hand me my timbrel!

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

Orpah

(Based on Ruth 1:1-14)

I am too young
to give in to death
be numbed by Naomi’s
negative breath.

Mighty Yahweh has failed
this family, my man.
Here’s my chance to detach
from this unlucky clan.

So I’ll return to Moab
to make a new start
(despite this strange yearning
deep in my heart).

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

If you’re like me and find writing poems about spiritual subjects a challenge, maybe writing persona poems could become a spiritual poetry portal for you too.

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThanks to Carol Varsalona, who suggested the subject of Poetry as spiritual practice of the heart, and who is hosting Spiritual Journey First Thursday today at her blog Beyond Literacy Link.

 

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Alert to blessings

When my friend Laurel asked me to be part of her Advent blog, Toward Christmas, I was delighted to accept. On these 24 days of preparing for Christmas, six of us are reviewing the Jesse Tree characters of Jesus’ story. One of the characters I chose to write about was Jacob (I think it was the ladder that made me think this would be a fun poem to write). The challenge was also to write this in prose poetry.

I read and re-read Jacob’s story (Genesis 27 & 28) before getting an idea. It came when I saw THREE. Jacob was blessed, not once, twice, but three times. Immediately I thought of folk and fairy tales, where things always come in threes.

One thing I noticed about Jacob and these three blessings is that they didn’t easily sink in. He wasn’t any happier after getting them, at least the first two, and they didn’t change his circumstances for the better, at least not in the short term.

I imagine he felt guilty and distracted when he got the first blessing. After all, he had just manipulated his blind father and he knew how angry Esau could get.

The second blessing, spoken over him by his father as Jacob was leaving home, may have sounded more like a cruel joke than a blessing, seeing as how everything was going exactly the opposite to what his father was saying.

It was finally when he saw, in his dream, the angels ascending and descending to heaven and heard words delivered in the voice of God Himself, complete with the beautiful promise, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…”  that Jacob realized he was blessed, and could go forward with a light heart (Genesis 28:15).

I think I’m often like Jacob when it comes to God’s gifts. Sometimes it’s circumstances, worries, preoccupations, even guilt if I’ve done some manipulating, that keep me from seeing them. At other times, those supposed-to-be blessings don’t seem like blessings at all but their opposite. What will it take to make me see God’s gifts, His blessings, that are all around me, the greatest of which is His constant presence (Psalm 139:17,18)?

Isaac blesses Jacob - by

Isaac blesses Jacob – by Gerrit Willemsz Horst

A tale of three blessings

Once upon a time there were three blessings.

First Blessing came to Prince as he, sweating under goat skins and drowning in his brother’s clothes, knelt before his blind father. Despite bequeathing him earthy richness, grain, wine, and a promise of the servitude of nations, the stench in the tent of goat stew and lies kept Prince from hearing a single word.  Read the rest on the Toward Christmas blog…

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

Join us each week for Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is part of Spiritual Journey Thursday hosted by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning.

 

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