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Tag Archives: Bible

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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#CY365 Currently reading – Revelation

Last Saturday the #CY365 photo prompt was “Currently Reading.”

Two of the books I’m reading are the Bible book of Revelation along with Discipleship on the Edge by Darrell Johnson—a book about Revelation (which two of our pastors are teaching a class of seniors and others on Tuesday afternoons).

The teaching sessions and the book are fascinating. We’ve learned about apocalyptic literature as a genre. (Revelation is an apocalypse—written large with symbols and hidden meanings in order to encourage the Christian churches of that time with a message disguised by images they, but not necessarily their persecutors, would have understood.)

We’ve been given insights into the meanings of numbers and symbols with special emphasis put on how would the people of John’s time may have understood the book.

A refrain that Johnson keeps repeating throughout is “Things are not as they seem.”

 

02-17-18 Currently reading

Revelation

 

A letter to lamp stands,
a throne room, a crowd
worship continuous
passionate, loud.

Creatures mysterious,
seals that won’t break.
Apocalypse visions
for Church’s sake.

Dragons and angels
that prostrate themselves,
sevens and forties
hundreds and twelves.

Horsemen and plagues
that fill mankind with terror,
signs from the heavens
that change Earth forever.

Martyrdom, bloodshed
pursue the Lamb’s team
but do not despair—
Things are not as they seem. 

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

(If you’re interested, audio sessions of these classes are online, under the heading “Behind the Curtain: A Study In the Book of Revelation” – bottom of THIS page.)

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2018 in #CY365 Photo-Poem Series, Religious

 

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Gratitude (Spiritual Journey First Thursday)

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Image: Pixabay

A few weeks ago I attended the Global Leadership Summit (by simulcast). One of the speakers was Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook and author of the book Lean In). This gorgeous young woman looked like she had it all, and had it all together. Then she shared the story of her young husband’s sudden death while they were on vacation. He wasn’t even ill.

She was understandably devastated and paralyzed by grief. She told how slowly she worked her way through this tragedy to a new normal. Her therapist, Mark, was a big help, especially when he directed her mournful thoughts away from self-pity to gratitude (e.g. “Yes, your husband is gone, but you still have your children”). He challenged her to recall and write down, at the end of each day, three moments of joy from that day.

This Spiritual Journey Thursday finds me in the unusual spot of seeing my husband through surgery. Every time my mind goes to a negative place concerning this, I am trying to take Mark’s advice to Sheryl, and redirect it toward gratitude… which really isn’t that hard!

1. It’s elective surgery. Now that medical science has figured out how to replace hips, walking with a painful arthritis-degenerated hip is no longer a life sentence. And we’ve been waiting for this appointment for almost a year.

2. It’s publicly funded. We do our share of complaining about our country’s nationalized medical system (inefficiencies, rationing of treatment, long wait times). But when it comes to having to go to the hospital, it’s reassuring that it won’t bankrupt us.

3. General good health. I sat with hubby through his pre-admission interview with the nurse. As he answered question after medical question with “No” (no heart attacks, no strokes, no kidney disease, no diabetes etc.) it struck me how blessed he and I have been with good health.

4. Surgery is local, so no long drives to visit and fetch him home.

5. The hope of pain-free walking again—soon, we hope!

As I think of the days of rehabilitation ahead for him (I know a bit about what’s involved because I broke my hip in 2014 and also had to do the walker / cane / raised toilet seat / bath bench / hard to climb in and out of the car thing) I cling to my life verse for thought hygiene and reassurance:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses al understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6,7 NKJV (emphasis added).

 

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, a once-a-month look at life’s spiritual side by a collection of blogging friends who met (mostly) on Poetry Friday. Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday is hosted today by Karen at Irene’s blog Live Your Poem.

 

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My Master Is My Mentor

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Image: Pixabay

My Master Is My Mentor

My Master is my mentor.
I have more than I need.
Master lets me lie motionless in a meadow.
He maneuvers me beside melodious streams.
He manifests new might in me.
He motivates me to do
what gives Him the most esteem.
I may roam through the midnight valley of mortality
but even then I will not have any qualms
for Master is immediate.
And You are my armament and mentor all the way.
You give me mouthwatering morsels
in the homestead of my defamers.
You have esteemed me as Your company.
I am submerged in blessings.
Your goodness and mercy
move with me all my life
And then I will make camp with You
forever in Your mansion.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
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Prompt – Inspiration
On January 18, 2016 writing acquaintance April Yamasaki’s blog article titled “How to Meditate on Psalm 23 and Have Fun at the Same Time” had several versions of Psalm 23 featuring the letters “G” and “L.” It also contained this challenge:

Try your own version of this psalm, using the letter M and starting with the line “My Master is my Mentor.” Or choose a letter and opening line of your own.

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

And that does it for National Poetry Month! I hope you’ve enjoyed these poems, pulled from my files. Tomorrow is a new month and it’s back to a regular about once-a-week postings.

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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in Religious

 

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Machine

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Image: Pixabay

Machine

Assembly begins the day Lucifer
is fired from the Father’s project.
Since then everything on earth has been sacrificed
to construct this apparatus.

Millennia of patient assembly
leads to today’s precise Pharisaic gears
meshing Roman justice with Judas cog
to draw Son into Evil’s engine.

He is denied even a simple wheel
to drag the cross, while Roman soldiers work
elbow fulcrums and hammer-wielding arms,
pulleys and ropes to hoist Him high.

See how His naive followers
keep glancing up as if even now
some heavenly windlass will appear
to free Him from the cross?

Until His final “It is finished!”
screamed into the dark
means the switch can be flicked,
for this device’s work is done.

But wait—what is the meaning
of this gaping earth, unearthly praises
of wraiths walking Jerusalem streets
the temple veil, ripping from top to bottom?

Hell’s alarm bells ring as the belt
flings from the still-spinning flywheel
and careens crazy, powerful
out of all control toward heaven.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
This poem was based on Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides prompt for April 3, 2015: “Write a machine poem.”

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in History, Religious

 

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Cup

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Image: Pixabay

Cup

I am thinking today of a cup
mug, glass, tumbler
goblet, teacup, sippy cup
tulip or barrel-shaped
angled or rounded
plastic, glass, china
silver or stainless steel.

I am thinking today of a cup
of water, milk or juice
drunk to slake thirst, add nourishment
coffee or tea to add a burst
of energy and well-being
beer, stout, nog or wine
to “gladden the heart.”

I am thinking today of a cup
a lot in life, a portion, a destiny:
“O Lord, you are … my cup.”
“My cup runneth over.”
“‘Father, if it is Your will
take this cup from me.”
“‘Shall I not drink the cup
which My Father has given Me?’”

I am thinking today of a cup
a pewter chalice, common mug
or plastic throwaway thimble
of grape juice or wine
and of memories:
“Jesus took the cup…’Drink from it
for this is My blood which is shed
for the remission of sins.’”
and choices:
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord
and the cup of demons.”

I am thinking today of a goal
a prize, a winner’s cup
that I have pressed toward
to be awarded at the end of life’s race
handed out at the judgment seat.
Will there be one for me?
Could winning it include
answering “yes” to Jesus’ question
“‘Are you able to drink the cup
that I am about to drink?’”

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
The word “cup,” which has many meanings in Scripture, was the inspiration for this poem. I chose it for today’s post because today is  Holy Thursday when we commemorate Jesus establishing Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion.

~*~*~*~*~

VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Objects, Religious

 

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Storing

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File box with index cards—it’s old-school, but it works! (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Storing

I am storing up Bible verses
on index cards

a collection of river stones
against the day
I’ll need to remember*

a shed full of life rafts
for when I am in deep water

a freezer of cooked dinners
for a time when life is too hectic
to cook a meal from scratch
out of the day’s chapter.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration:
This poem came out of my own spiritual practice of memorizing Bible passages which I write on file cards and file by subject. I have done this for years. You could write about spiritual practice of yours…

~*~*~*~*~

VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Objects, Personal, Religious

 

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