Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sushi and a Side of Poetry

*I wrote this on something of a whim, looking back across my life over a plateful of salmon rolls.  We all are here to learn and progress, finding great joy and strength.  I was born pretty pessimistic in many ways and have learned to be a bit better at seeing the glorious blessings around me.

In spring I never saw the flowers bloom
Or heard the sweet birds warbling
Indeed, I never saw the sun fair shine
Nor listened to the bubbling stream.

The poems etched upon my heart
Wore blackened aspect.  Mournful sound
Deep echoed through the silent soul
Before I stepped on lighted ground.

But here I look around my life
By blesséd sunlight's golden kiss
Bestrewing joy on every side
And leading weary soul to bliss. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Glory of God is Intelligence

Above the library doors in Brigham Young University, so I'm told, stands an inscription derived from Mormon scripture, "The Glory of God is Intelligence."  It is a beautiful, passionate sentence to me, which warms my heart and excites my soul whenever I read it.  A stranger to this concept may conclude that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are intellectual bigots who discriminate against the academically challenged.  It isn't so at all.  Please, allow me to expound the heart melting power of this exquisite phrase.

Firstly, let's discuss the meaning of the word intelligence.  There are, within the walls of LDS doctrine, two of them.  The first primarily counters the idea that intelligence and IQ are synonymous terms.  They are not.  Education does not guarantee intelligence, rather, intelligence is defined as the application of righteous knowledge.  When we know the right thing and act righteously upon such morally correct principles, we are exercising our intelligence (David A. Bednar).  The second is a bit deeper and more encompassing.  It is more or less defined as the consciousness of humanity, the ability to think and make choices.  It is the foundation of our souls and the spiritual fiber with which we are made.  It is the essence of who we are as spiritual beings.  So you, no matter how lowly or uneducated you are, are made of intelligence. 

That being understood, what does it mean that the glory of God is intelligence?  The meaning is that the glory of God is each and every one of us as we are now and as we progress to become something greater.  You are the glory of God.  Your eternal progression, not only in this life but afterward is His work and His glory.  Your ultimate happiness is His crowning achievement.  In a universe of power, through the artistry of the cosmos, compared with the strength of swirling planets and enormity of countless stars, His greatest joy and achievement is you. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Soldier

*  This is the first poem I ever wrote.  I was eight at the time and didn't think much of it as I scribbled it out in about five minutes as a final touch on a lesson I was teaching.  The point of the poem is manifold in that it touches the reality that children are very intense and that this world is a war against wickedness.  Even a young boy, who seems to be doing nothing of importance may indeed be one of the Lord's most valiant soldiers, fighting off myriads of demons striving to lead him into moral destruction.  It also impresses the reader to refrain from judging people by their covers, especially young children.  I might have thrown the poem away after the lesson as I thought all children of my age wrote like that had not my mother's jaw dropped.  Now as I am a mother and I can see what eight year olds can generally produce in the way of writing I can begin to understand her shock.

He is a soldier, walking up a hill.
He is scared, but his face is calm and still.
He is struggling more than anyone ever could.
He is fighting for the right, the truth, the good.
If he defeats the battle, angels will fall at his feet,
Yet he is but a young boy, walking down the street. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Maiden Philosophy II

* This is again an excerpt from my book, in the manner almost of Pilgrim's Progress, which is a powerful and very influential literary work in my mind.  This recounts how in my youth I saw the double faced philosophy the world had in mourning, not that they had sinned, but that they had sinned and God had not blessed them in their sins.  It always seemed irrational to me when I viewed this kind of behavior and I became more deeply convinced of the need of Christlike love and personal righteousness in a very fallen world.

Then bowed my head at once in sad despair
Trembling fever rushed into my soul
"Oh, lead someone and make my eyesight whole
And full of light in this dark life" my prayer.
For once begun the harsh, rough road in haste
I found my footing lost and stumbled straight
Into a hedge of hatred near the grate
That loomed above the oubliette of waste
And souls that cried in horror of their deeds -
Not of their blackened souls they wept
Nor of the grieving God they thought had slept
Without a watchful eye, but that the seeds
They often sowed came crashing down in droves
Upon their foul prosperity.  The groves
They hoped for in abundance stood as weeds
While high above my head came light and life
From those whose pain of innocence had paid
The cost of joy and now in heaven made
A restful place which life denied with strife.
And there the vast collected widows' mites
Had pulled them from the vague and tiresome land
Extended in all gentleness a hand
To raise their pains into new blissful heights.
And as I glanced around at this dark earth
I saw more clearly then, the endless need
Of purity and love to end the greed
That infant learned to cherish from its birth.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Master in Anatomy



* A literary journal published this some years ago.  I find I never included it in my blog, so I am repenting that now. 

Eyes
            Like the soft, blue Galilean Ocean
                        Full of power and strength but always
                  Calm and perfect, fixed on me.
Hands
            Quick and direct, with purpose and the prestige of heaven
                        But always ready to wipe away tears,
      Take what is given and give always what was taken away.

I remember the countenance, though
            That is hardly something one might find in a textbook
     Subject to analysis and argument in the cold hard halls of academia.

His hair,
            The color of the straw that garnished His bed
      But matted and grimy to remind us of the price He paid
                 And the condescension to which He agreed.

The voice
                        Quick like the hands, with purpose and teaching
            But with a beauty of pure majesty
                   He still could never hide.

Intentions
            Or motives, as they call them in the building of psychology
                        But pure and perfect and framed by the understanding and memory
                  Of more than a thousand years of one on one conversations.
                        The human attempt to do them justice is not only laughable, but insulting.

Love
            Is hardly pertinent to attaining a decent grade in class or progressing on to a PhD,

Nor is
                        Purity.
            Hardly accepted in the ways of life that really matter, so they say,
                        And a ridiculous notion – it’s really just being prudish. 

So they couldn’t understand what made Him so different,
Though they talked and analyzed till the espresso wore off
And they gave each other prizes made of not quite rusted metal
For who could tear Him apart the best
Or perhaps to those who thought they knew Him.

And though I stand here shouting quietly
And telling people where to look,
They continue on their merry way
And satisfy themselves in the piece by piece analysis
They made of Him
            And of His sacrifice
And whether He was God or man –
(What does it matter?  He showed the way to life!)
And all the while He stands beckoning
            Wishing for them to leave the shell of a life they’ve created for themselves
     And shelter them in kindness and love and power greater than worlds and light years
And teach them knowledge that puts Plato and Einstein to shame

But the espresso is gone
            And it’s on to the frat party

     And He stands there with open arms
With love in His heart and healing in His wings
                        As they walk away from Him
            Tossing their crumpled environmentally friendly coffee cups neatly on the ground
      He made for them.

One of them sees the litter and picking it up, takes His name in vain           
            Because the others were disrespecting the grass,

And he follows them
Thinking himself without the beam

            While the Master (or master, as they write it in their award winning essays)

Stands by

                                    Arms still outstretched,


      And                      
weeps.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Grateful Prayer



Lead me forward with Thy blessing!
Give me not Thy silence now! 
Render courage, pow’r unhindered -
Shed Thy light on humble brow!

I’ve done all that Thou’s commanded,
Spared not home or fame in this
But have blessed Thy name forever
Both in vict’ry and distress.

Guide me then to life eternal!
Lord, make all Thy blessings sure.
Lead me on to Home and Family
Comforting both strong and pure!

Thou hast led me through the tempest –
Landed me on heaven’s shore.
Now embrace me with Thy blessing.
Show Thy face that I adore!

I surrender to Thy mercy
Thus encircling round my heart.
Wisdom grant me, now and ever.
Godliness to me impart.

Let me thrive unto Thy blessings
Never more to part from Thee,
Ever reaching to Thy pleasure
‘Til I behold the Trinity.

Surely know I Thou canst render
All the promises received,
Justify my words and actions
Lord, exalt they who believed.

Hear my soul awake with weeping
From the joy Thou’s given me.
Let us here rejoice together
In a close affinity.

Here the anguish leaves my body
Now the dross doth flee my soul
And surrender to the spirit.
Finally, the life’s made whole. 

Resurrection

* God often answers my prayers by the words that scribble themselves down from my pen as I write poetry.  I had been extremely fearful, depressed, doubtful, frustrated, mistrusting and the like when an overwhelming urge sat me down and all but forced me to take up some writing.  I was determined to stick to my depressed and miserable emotions when it seemed a Higher Force took me and gave me no choice but to write what you see here.  The final stanza is too personal and an answer to some soul wrenching questions so I do not include it in this publicly read blog.

Once within a garden blooming
Light and blessings all consuming
Lord my Savior here entombing
And I trust His mighty hand.

Knowing that He loves me ever
Doubting grace and virtue never
Ties to sin eternal sever
Now He lends me strength to stand.

Opened grave proves now fulfilling
After blood from Master spilling
Love and sweetness in me thrilling,
Rest I now in Holy Land.

Visions in the Sky

*Although I had previously considered the idea of this poem I felt I was not prepared to write it last night when God urged me to sit down and take up my pencil in a session of mighty prayer.  I sat helplessly, praying that if God wanted me to write it He would have to write it for me.  Ideas poured into my mind and the pencil started moving.  I wrote somewhat reluctantly at first, not trusting where this poem would lead me, but by the end it was writing itself as I hung breathlessly on its coattails.  


In winds that brushed horizon's face
I lookéd toward the wayward sky.
The clouds that danced in sunset's hue
Proclaimed a truth from up on high.

Within its canvas sweet unleashed
A face arose in heaven's breast.
A man's bright image came to view
And soothed away my soul's distress.

Whose was the face? I wonderéd
And stood unsure of my lone fate,
Petitioned God to make life clear
Then watched as clouds' most gentle slate

Dispersed and gave me ample view
Of universe' stars twinkling.
There in its midst I saw at last
A lesser god and mighty king

Whose name commended to my mind
In saintlike rev'rence.  Here the stars
Created motion in the night
To make his visage.  Mighty Mars

Might pale in bleak comparison
To this man's fame and beauty, grace
With heaven's joy and gratitude
Which overcame all time and space.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Prison Rent

Escaping from my cold despair
And sprinting free from prison walls
The grass awakens senses fresh
And distance blights the jailor's halls.

I run to nowhere for I find
I knew not earth nor life erstwhile.
I thought I did but only saw
The rage and pain which did defile

Perceptions then, not seeing light
But wretched mis'ry not unknown
To One who traveled here below
And now resides on heaven's throne.

No strength but His could set me free
And break the chains which bound my wrists.
He flung aside the iron door
And happiness for me insists.

And though unsteady on my feet
I walk to gain the strength of limb
Not knowing where my journey lies
But grateful always, loving Him. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Haunted by Antigua

* This is from an experience I had some years ago at one of the lowest points of my life.  I had been under very difficult circumstances and had trusted implicitly that certain people who claimed to care about me would be there for me.  Instead of that, they turned on me and betrayed me in the most unthinkably painful manner imaginable.  Later, when I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, I found a mirror of that situation in the battle worn city.  Although it was one of the most painful moments in my history, it, along with other situations, helped teach me to trust in the Lord rather than to trust in fallible human beings.  It taught me to turn inward and find greater strength in myself and cultivate a relationship with God I could not have gained in any other way.

Antigua keeps on haunting me
   The city draws on memories
 The feeling beckons me forward.

The Spanish city
            It calls to my blood.
Common blood - I can't resist it
     Never can turn it off.
  But never gonna give into it.

It wakes me in the night
    Wrenching sweat from my skin
  Passion and memories thick surround me
Try not to sleep.

Antigua, city of my heart
       Battle worn Spanish ruins
Left that way because of loyalty
   To something that couldn't protect it.

Distance between Antigua and the Motherland
      And Antigua belongs in Guatemala's arms.
  The Motherland is a memory
            And Antigua finds honor and love.

No more do I want the ocean waves
   To wake me from my sleep.
 They're all consuming, pulling me into them
         A voice carries my name on the wind
     Calling from the east,
But never, never will it be answered.

Battle worn Spanish ruins
   Left that way because of loyalty
To something that couldn't protect it.

I sleep in corpse pose now.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Maiden Philosophy

*Yet another section of the book I wrote some time ago.  I used different types of poetry to describe different people and aspects of my life.  This type of expressed my personal contemplations and the concept outlined here is something that I saw from my infancy and immediately knew was wrong about the general way the world thinks.  Often the world teaches us fear and pessimism, and that treating others badly to make ourselves appear better is the only way to survive.  I set out on a mission to use my life in a way that might prove this concept wrong and trust that God would sustain me in any risk I took toward this end.

I once believed that life was just a curse
And wrenched your soul in anguish til you paid
The utmost farthing, ne'er my mind had laid
Upon the thought that in great heaven's purse
Was true reward that faithfulness in pain
Drew claims of joy from God's almighty hand,
Procuring sweetness in a promised land
And refuge in the drops of healing rain.
I asked the wise, "What does one do?" to keep
Safe harbor in this life.  He quick replied
"Look to yourself and your uncertainties
And thrash the living man before your feet
Else he with hatred turns your sins to meet
The eyes of they who mock impurities."
I listened with heart fit to break in staunch
Unwillingness to see the wisdom there
And give my soul to dank and cold despair
In seeking joy and faith my soul to launch
Into the azure heights of light and hope.
Within that realm I saw my soul recoil
From pessimism envious to spoil
And in my pain I sought a way to cope.

The one bright thought which flew into my mind
To prove them wrong, the elder set of friends
To prove that when the grievous journey ends
Fate shall reward the just and crown the kind.
Then set I out on life's rough road to go
And in my heart a hope, a faith and light
For all mankind - that life might prove a blight
No more and stain upon the wounded foe
Might beg the generosity of soul
In deep forgiveness and the mighty goal
Of peace in spite of anger from the row
Might settle on a sick and stricken heart.

Man of Light

* I wrote this in connection with a book I penned some time ago and which I have not shown until now.  It is a book of my personal history with the trials I have faced and how I have grown because of them.   This describes a person I met several years ago who was an amazing person but his moral decency earned him disrespect from his associates.  To those who do rightly and yet feel that their efforts are unappreciated, perhaps someone is writing poetry somewhere about the example you have set for them.

And when I thought all hope was lost and vain
I glancéd up and held a stranger in my view
Of bright appearance.  Ne'er thought I to gain
Observance in the sight of one so true

In soul of majesty and nature pure
Whose masculinity so rare portrayed
That in this evil world one could be sure
That light in man endured, though much betrayed

For others saw and scorned his soul to shame
And my heart grieved that this man's love and mind
Should be so judged and set to reckless blame.
I sought with desperation peace to find

For when such decency inspired hate
I could not help but mourn the human fate.

An Era is Dawning

An era is dawning that never before
Appeared in the psyche of wandering men.
The justice and glory stand forth to restore,
Redress and to comfort the martyrs again.

They gave of their spirit and each of his life
To render a neighbor a moment of peace.
Now no longer lowly, in pain and in strife
Their wounds shall be mended and grievances cease.

Thus no longer smitten, ashamed and forsook
The saints now arise in a glory of light
And devils' teeth gnashing, in anger they look
And know that their hatred shall ne'er conquer right.

Honduras

* I experienced a very powerful spiritual outpouring in my travels as I crossed the border from Guatemala into Honduras some years ago.  Both my parents, who accompanied me, felt it too.  

Voices in the borderlands
Call with desperate tones to me.
Thousands, millions in a chorus
Voices of a memory.

Yet beseeching, ever crying
Dost thou not remember we
All these voices ever reaching
Echoes from eternity.

Captive

* Another poem written some years ago in the agony of post traumatic stress, which I have never shown anyone until now.  It is something of a continuation of Lord of Daylight and illustrates again the emotional strain of post traumatic stress as well as the natural desire to have someone help me out of a trial I could not overcome on my own.  

 The wind and rain came crashing down
Upon my hovel's broken door
The hearth warmth fell to chill for all
The icy torrents on the floor.

Implacable the thrashing storm
And wind that whipped around the home.
The nightly demons howled without
With bloody teeth and mouths of foam.

Imprisoned here I stood aloof
With praying lips and anguished soul
Held captive by the darkened hand
That crushed my life and freedom stole.

A pris'ner here I found myself
And bound alone in hell's black chains
Alone in faith and lonely hope
That love might someday calm the rains

And rescue me, oh heart's despair!
To see the vanquished heroes fall
Not men enough to set me free
And slaughter that which might befall

Our onward journey to his home
Where peace might reign in evil's place
And happiness in every step
Bestrew each blissful day with grace.

Lord of Daylight

 * About six years ago I became very ill with post traumatic stress.  I wrote this in the midst of the conflagration of that trial.  I was pleading to the elements, to the powers that govern the universe, for someone to come and rescue me.  I was attempting to reach out to this mysterious and unknown Lord of Daylight who might come and protect me from the anguished circumstances I was facing.  I have never shown this poem to anyone until this moment.  But I find that the Lord was wiser than I in  not answering my prayer immediately.  Had things transpired as I hoped and had I gained immediate relief I would have been ultimately miserable and missed learning much of what He has taught me in the interim. 

Once repelled by rage and terror
Drawn by voices crying ever
"Leave us, leave us," begging, "never."

Men like monsters call my senses
Breaking down my weak defenses
And with each my psyche tenses
Forcing souls their ties to sever.

Trust and anger then compelling
Rage and fear within me swelling
Always thinking, never telling
And with love my mind dispenses.

Finding peace a quest of daytime
But the foe advancing nighttime
Please subdue me, now or sometime
Tranquil notes, so distant, belling.

Look to find me, Lord of Daylight.
Guide me, lead me, deaf my eyesight.
Please protect me in Thine arms tight
And bring joy to me sublime.