Category Archives: Sidenotes

Poems, quotes, quips, and quick sayings of note

Newtown

News Reports of the Shooting a Newtown Elementary School

News Reports of the Shooting a Newtown Elementary School

Our wounds come at first breath
In the blood of a garden at rest
Toil cursed upon our commute
Commissioned to die in our youth

Hope like a blanket will be
At the coming He will set us free.

There are virtually no words to describe the news today. Is this our culture, our time, in which history will judge. I’m sad for all those involved today, God be with those families.

Newtown by Scott Fillmer

John Newton’s Poem The Kite

15' Kite At Annual Kite Festival in Blackpool (UK) by David Nightingale

15′ Kite At Annual Kite Festival in Blackpool (UK) by David Nightingale

I came across this poem by John Newton in a book I was reading the other day and had to share it. John Newton is the pastor, write, and poet who’s more famous lyrical writing came when he wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.  In the theme of sophistication through simplicity, this poem is amazing. Only four lines, and yet so profound.

The Kite by John Newton

Were I but free, I’d take a flight,
And pierce the clouds beyond their sight,
But, ah! like a poor pris’ner bound,
My string confines me near the ground.

I love that. Such a symbol of how we want to live our lives sometimes, let me free of this thing that has me tied down to the ground, yet if we were released, we would crash and burn. Sometimes those things that make us feel tied to the ground are the things that God uses to hold us up. I can think of so many things over the years I thought, if I just could get rid of this or quit that it would allow me to do other things, and more times than not, I was in that place or situation for a good reason.


photo credit from 500px by David Nightingale at http://500px.com/photo/1295537

There is no Frigate Like a Book from the Pen of Emily Dickinson

The more I try to learn and understand how prose and poetry works, the more I realize that I can’t recapture the the years of ignoring virtually all literature from my childhood. It’s like starting in grade school again and working your way up, only now you don’t have time to do so because of bills and life and work and school and family and so on. This part of literature now gets relegated to learning a tiny snippet then when another writer (Lenard Sweet in this case via Viral) points out how important poetry is, then picking it back up again and learning a little more. I’ve done this for almost 5 years now, and I’m not sure I’ve learned a whole lot, but I’ve learned more than if I never picked up poetry at all.

Lenard Sweet in his book Viral spends a great deal on the importance of poetry in one chapter, and then goes on to show how much the Google generation has rejected this form of literature (and mine too for that matter), to replace it with the world of images and graphics. But the more our world, culture, and societies as a whole forget how to write in cursive, the more we should continue to write in cursive ourselves, lest we forget the power of words. Same goes with poetry, and especially in our churches!

If you are a Christian, no matter how much you try, you can’t get away from the fact that God’s way of communicating with us is in words, and the greatest poetry ever written is found in Scripture. It’s no wonder. Poetry, in one form, is a way to say something that can’t be said in words, and much of Scripture is just that, too great for words. There are countless examples, but I like the this reason from the book of John… “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (3.12). The Spiritual world of God uses poetry for a good reason, it helps to explain the unexplainable, something that needs a parable to show its depth.

I love short poems that are easily digestible at this point, it will take me years to work up to appreciating Shakespeare, but here Emily Dickinson explains the power of a book.

There is no Frigate Like a Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll.
How frugal is the chariot
That bears the human soul!

~Emily Dickinson

It just conveys so much more meaning to compare the power of a book to a warship of immense power and beauty. Much like a product of my generation, I know my weakness in understanding literature is the image. Being a photographer for so long, the image is what I created through capturing light, not an image in my mind through capturing words read. Trying to relearn how words express their own images, without the need for a graphic is quite hard in the 21st century, I can’t imagine how hard it will be in the 22nd century, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Ode To My Wife the Quilter :: Poem

Project 365 [Day 218] Deborah Finishes the 144th Quilt Block

Project 365 [Day 218] Deborah Finishes the 144th Quilt Block

You may or may not know, but my wife Deborah, has been quilting for over 25 years now. She use to teach people how to quilt all around the country, she invented and designed several new quilting products, and has completed countless projects, many of which she gave away. She doesn’t quilt much for herself anymore but back during the millennium she did a quilt swap with people all around the world, and here a mere 12 years later she finally got around to putting the blocks together, 144 blocks to be exact, and the last block, by Carol Smith from Colonia NJ was the very last block of the 144.

This box of blocks from back in 2000 came from cleaning out our attic, something we have been trying to do for the past 6 years. Along with the blocks we found this poem, Ode To My Wife the Quilter, by an Unknown Author.

Ode To My Wife the Quilter

She learned to quilt on Monday
Her stitches all were very fine.
She forgot to thaw out dinner,
So we went out to dine.

She quilted miniatures on Tuesday,
She says they are a must.
They were really quite lovely,
But she forgot to dust.

On Wednesday it was a sampler,
She says stripling’s fun.
What highlights! What shadows!
But the laundry wasn’t done.

Her patches were on Thursday-
Green, yellow, blue and red.
I guess she was really engrossed
She never made the bed.

It was wall hanging on Friday,
In colors, she adores.
It never bothered her at all,
The crumbs on the floors.

I found a maid on Saturday,
My week is now complete.
My wife can quilt the hours away,
The house will still be neat.

Well it’s already Sunday,
I think I’m about to wilt.
I cursed, I raved, I ranted,
The MAID has learned to QUILT!

The Spring Equinox Today with Spring is Coming to Zion :: Poem

Dogwood Flower Bloom in Spring

Today is the first day of Spring (the Spring Equinox)! For some reason, a day I look more forward to each year, but this year, I wanted to commemorate the day with a poem. I make no claims whatsoever to be any kind of a decent poet (see prior attempts), but I do make attempts from time to time. This is one I started in the middle of winter, when it was dark and dreary, and all I wanted was to see some sun and a little bit of warmth in the air. I was writing in anticipation when I would be able to shoot this image above, which I took on Sunday of our Dogwood tree.

I was told off and on in photography that if you have to explain a photo it isn’t very good. I’m not so sure that counts for some forms of writing, since many genres I need plenty of explanation to understand. The first half of the poem is very very loosely formed in an iambic tetrameter as my others have been, in counter rhyming verse, going back and forth between nature and scripture. The back and forth is supposed to be between our current here and now, and the second coming. Looking forward to the time of the new heaven and the new earth, a time when Christ will come back like a Spring, waiting to arrive. I think of that time much like I do Spring after a long winter, the anticipation of Christ’s Second Coming after a long cold winter.

I really wanted to “finished” poem and post it on the first day of Spring, but as with life, so many things got in the way. It still feels unfinished to me, a rough start to something that needs much more work. Kind of like life. So for what it’s worth, here it is:

Spring is Coming to Zion

Spring is coming, ‘or the daffodils say it’s true
Spring is coming, where the frost gives way to the dew
No one knows that day and hour
Still light moves on in full power
The bluebirds fill their boxes full
Where legends of the dogwoods rule

Spring is coming, where the winter must resume it’s queue
Spring is coming, for darkness is a light with you
We are pure at it’s arrival
At once we see him in his all
The seam of light begins the prize
And the meadow grass now gives rise

Spring is coming, where the night is bright as the day
Spring is coming, the very stones cry out and pray
The time as yet to have appeared
His glory is joy and revered
When pure beauty colors our eyes
We know summer is set to rise

Spring is coming, so stay awake and do not snooze
Spring is coming, rejoice in knowing the Good News
Where the city of our God shines
He will establish in the pines
A beauty that has no ending
And winter that has no beggining

Spring is coming now.
In the city of God
There is a river
Where streams are made glad
Though the earth gives way
And the mountains tremble

Spring is coming now
And is to be praised.
Let creation rejoice
to the ends of earth
that this is our God

Spring is coming now
So be still and know
Our God is with us
He won’t forsake us
Let Zion be glad

Spring is coming, where the frost gives way to the dew
Spring is coming, just for you.

If you have some favorite Spring poems I would love to read them, send them on over or leave a comment below.

The Valley of Vision :: Poem

I took this photo above from a painting that one of the kids in Uganda painted at Bethany Village Orphanage, and it just reminded me of this poem written by the Puritans around the time of World War I (1918). I found this poem from a collection of files I put together several years ago. I just love how the poem, the painting, and it’s painter go together so well.

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
You have brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see you in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold your glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter your stars shine;

Let me find your light in my darkness,
your life in my death,
your joy in my sorrow,
your grace in my sin,
your riches in my poverty,
your glory in my valley.

Amen

Sunday with The World State by G K Chesterton :: Poem

I think it has literally taken me a few years to adjust to Sunday being a work day, and I have grown to absolutely love late Sunday afternoons after all the services and meetings are over. It’s one of those few times during the week I get (usually) a few quiet uninterrupted hours to spend with Deborah watching a game or to read. A while back on the recommendation from Piper on the Role of Poetry in the Christian Life I picked up the book A Sacrifice of Praise, An Anthology of Christian Poetry in English from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century (yes, I seem to just find books with long titles). I came across this poem by Chesterton, with a short title, called The World State I thought I would share below.

The World State

Oh, how I love Humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!

The International Idea,
The largest and the clearest,
Is welding all the nations now,
Except the one that’s nearest.

The compromise has long been known,
This scheme of partial pardons,
In ethical societies
And small suburban gardens—

The villas and the chapels where
I learned with little labour
The way to love my fellow-man
And hate my next-door neighbour.

I love the subtle in your face presentation of the “second greatest commandment” here found in Matthew 22. There is just something about the Brits and the French that make me laugh and I can hear this poem being read aloud in a British pub somewhere like The Eagle and the Child in that awesome British accent. Chesterton was a poet, writer, and literary critic in the very early 1900’s and was friends with H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, and others. He also wrote, among many other things, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Repeating the Same Message Dilutes It’s Value

This is the industry standard for information today. Repeat, repeat, repeat, the message so many times that at some point it will finally sink into the person’s mind, unless of course you are one of those who hears the message the first time, then turns off every next repetition. There is actually a negative term for this, which some people call numbness of frequency.

I really get tired at times of people and organizations that continually repeat the same message over and over again on commercials, marketing, their blogs, twitter, facebook and the like. I really like to get to know some of these people I read or follow on a more personal level, but when all they can do is continue to repeat their party line, whatever that is to them, in some ways it dilutes the message they are trying to send out.

Obviously the message is important but finding ways to provide some variety, or allow others to get a more personal view of themselves goes a long way to providing trust and value. Just a little variety once in a while would be great. I try to keep this in mind myself whenever I write anything so my message is more about what is going on with me personally, i really don’t think my readers, whoever they are, want to read about Auburn football every single time they see a post from me, and I would love to read some variety from those people who have none, just sayin.

Our Demand for Constant Productivity

When we turn to the bible we see very little demand for constant productivity, especially in ways we measure today. What we do see is a constant effort by Jesus to slow the pace of life, making time for meditation, prayer, and communion with the Father and His friends.

via in part from The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion

Changes to Unfiltered and Random Posts

Finally got around to updating my Tumblr site with a new custom domain and design theme. i am going to start posting random stuff over here that i don’t necessarily want to post on my blog, it’s going to be totally random over here and probably way more unfiltered than my blog, but that’s the point and purpose for being over here.