The Ministry of Poetry

“Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

A couple of weeks ago, we hiked Choquequirao.  It was difficult.  My muscles ached.  It was a long way up and down and up and down on uneven rocky trails. I was in need of encouragement.  Before we began the hike, God had been instructing me quietly in

Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

He who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

As Annie pointed out when I tried to quote these verses to her and Sarah, God did let our foot slip.  True.  But He was watching all our comings and goings.  At one point, Will was walking alongside me, while I s-l-o-w-l-y made my way up the hill, having GI troubles and feeling dreadful, when we got word on the walkie-talkie that Sarah was feeling discouraged and tired up ahead.  Will left me to go help Sarah and Peter, and I felt like God told me that He was my helper, that He would get me up the hill.  I rested and prayed and then I got a miraculous second wind. He gave me fresh breezes, shade, and energy.  I felt His accompaniment in tangible way.

The following week, we were driving through desert landscapes on the way to Lima, and I was looking out the window, wondering what the future holds for our family.  Where would we be?  What new challenges would we face?  What would schooling be like for our kids? We were listening to John Mark McMillan (“Future/Past”):

And You,

You are my first

You are my last

You are my future and my past

My future is a PERSON, not a set of circumstances.  That brought a wave of peace, cool peace.

A couple of days ago, Will linked to an article by David Brooks about Christian college education.  Then he posted a section about love.  I have been meditating on allowing God to unite Will and I into a single tree, letting go of my identity to become part of a greater whole.

This morning, I was cooking and listening to Josh Garrels’s “At the Table” and I got teary singing along:

Come on home, home to me

And I will hold you in my arms

and joyful be.

There will always, always be

a place for you at my table

Return to me

The purposes of this blog post are multiple: to thank and praise God for speaking to us.  He does not leave us in silence. I hope you will be inspired to speak or write words of life.  I want to be able to quote poetry, but song lyrics are as close as I get right now, so I celebrate the poetry of songwriters. Finally, I desire to give personal testimony to the power of specific words and to pass them along, lest you too should need the encouragement. 

Quotes from David Brooks

Some great quotes from the article by David Brooks entitled The Cultural Value of Christian Higher Education follow. He argues that it is in Christian universities that you best see the synthesis in the training of the mind, the soul, the body and the spirit. It is a good read, full of great quotes and things I think are true. It makes me want to send my kids to Abilene Christian University where both Allison and I went to school. I will try to not push them too hard. 😉

In any commitment, love is at the core. A commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it for those moments when the love falters. It arises at a deep sensation of certainty, a moral and spiritual sensation that something is right, that you’ve been called to something.

Love humbles you because you realize you’re not in control of your own mind. You think obsessively about the person you love. It opens up the crust of life and reveals soft, tender flesh below so you enjoy more and you suffer more. It de-centers the self. You realize your core riches are not in yourself; they’re in another. Love also teaches you how to endure. We’ve all had that first romantic passionate love, but when you educate a love, it’s not reliant on that immediate, passionate first embrace. It longs and endures. It’s what the philospher Roger Scruton calls a second love. This long second love carries people through the tragedies and the blessings of life.

The author Louis de Bernières wrote in the book Captain Coreli’s Mandolin about a love that fused people together. One of his characters says, “Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it. We had roots that grew towards each otherunderground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches, we found that we were one tree and not two.”

Christians Know the Secret

Christians know the secret behind what David Brooks never gets around to saying completely in his article in the New York Times.

If you think that human nature is good and powerful, then you go around frustrated because the perfect society has not yet been achieved. But if you go through life believing that our reason is not that great, our individual skills are not that impressive, and our goodness is severely mottled, then you’re sort of amazed life has managed to be as sweet as it is.

Read the article here.