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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Category: Poetry

Happy Negatives

Tom Elenbaas

This Christmas, my wife bought me a wonderful book called Notes from a Public Typewriter. It’s a book that came about quite literally from notes that people like you and I typed on an old typewriter in this bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor called Literati, our former hometown. We used to frequent used bookstores, and I have a strange fondness for a good used bookstore.

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from Ode: Intimations of Immortality

Tom Elenbaas

From Wordsworth:

...The rainbow comes and goes,      10
And lovely is the rose;     
The moon doth with delight     
Look round her when the heavens are bare;     
Waters on a starry night     
Are beautiful and fair;      15
The sunshine is a glorious birth;     
But yet I know, where'er I go,     
That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth...

The innocent brightness of a new-born Day     
            Is lovely yet;     200
The clouds that gather round the setting sun     
Do take a sober colouring from an eye     
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;     
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.     
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,     205
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,     
To me the meanest flower that blows can give     
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

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Found Poem - Silence & Snow

Tom Elenbaas

Found this poem in a journal from 2012:

Silence and Snow
At the Bitter End, 1-23-12

Silence and snow seem
somehow to belong to
one another. Solitude, like
a heavy coldness falls.
Forced solitude like a 
solitary confinement
of the soul sweeps in 
like a coldfront
an icy gaze to a bone
core chill not easily shaken.
  Snow falls
          Covering silently
      Ground quickly
      Covered by solitude.

What can survive until spring?

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The Foolishness of God


Perform impossibilities
or perish. Thrust out now
the unseasonal ripe figs
among your leaves. Expect
the mountain to be moved.

Hate parents, friends and all
materiality. Love every enemy.
Forgive more times than seventy-seven.
Camel-like, squeeze by
into the kingdom through
the needle’s eye. All fear quell.

Hack off your hand, or else
unbloodied, go to hell.
Thus the divine unreason.
Despairing now, you cry
with earthy logic – How?

And I, you God, reply:
Leap from your weedy shallows.
Dive into the moving water.
Eyeless, learn to see
truly. Find in my folly your
true sanity. Then Spirit-driven,
run on my narrow way, sure
as a child. Probe, hold
my unhealed hand, and
bloody, enter heaven.

Luci Shaw, in A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation, 1 Corinthians 1:20-25

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From Nature


[vimeo width="400" height="300"][/vimeo] I've been reading the book Beautiful Outlaw over the last week by John Eldredge. Maybe you've seen some of my tweets. This book is a fabulous read and ranks up there in my library of books that should be read for basic spirituality. Why? Several reasons, but here's one. The book is about the personality of Jesus and his real, tangible relationship with us. Eldredge does an awesome job of helping us to recover a vision of Jesus is that is stripped of religious coverings. It's deconstructive in the best senses of the word.  In an early chapter called, "Is Jesus Really Playful?" John makes something of a profound door opening for me. It's not something I haven't thought about before, but someone it brought me deeper in my thinking not just theologically, but more personally. I've always known that God's qualities can be seen clearly in and through creation - that the Creator is imaged somehow through the things he creates... that his creations "reveal" him. This is clearly written in Paul's letter to the Romans in chapter 1. I've read that a million times, and I've thought about the heart and mind of the artist, and the fact that we are God's poetry (Ephesians). But this is so simple and profound that I've missed it all my life, and am so sad that I have because the richness and beauty of it is overwhelming. Listen how Eldredge puts it:

I was sitting out back yesterday morning sipping coffee, watching the young chipmunks chase one another at breakneck speeds across the deck. One clever daredevil, hoping to get the advantage, jumped up on the fence rail and continued to chase from above, leaping at the last moment upon his littermate like a Hollywood stuntman. This morning one of them adopted a new strategy. The little rascal found an ambush spot, clinging from the side of the house, where he waited for his playmate to wander by unawares; he then pounced, and the two somersaulted off the deck and into the grass, squealing. Only to dash off and do it again. And again. Now - what does this tell us about the personality of Jesus, who created these little dynamos with striped masks and boundless enthusiasm? - John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw, p. 19

Throughout the book, John asks simple questions like these about everything from the actions of polar bears, to the soft and sometimes powerful crashing of the waves. What does the gentle whispering of the Aspen, the thundering power of the storm - what do these say about the personality of Jesus? These "qualities" in the created world are qualities that come from our God.

"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." -Romans 1:20

There is something profoundly personal and engaging in our relationship with God - in our understanding of him, in our experience of his personality that comes blazing through in every detail of the world around us. How have I missed this deep truth all of these years? This is the power that I feel and sense of God's presence when I read Wordsworth - and now I understand why. He is responding to the personality of God in and through the world he encounters - not to mention every other great poet who ever lived. This is so much better than the "contorted interpretations based upon religiously bizarre images [that] only serve to push Christ further off into the ethosphere." (Eldredge, Ibid, p. 24) No wonder I find myself communing with God so deeply while standing waste deep in the cool water of a small stream in northern Michigan. No wonder my heart leaps when I hear the call of the Loon or the soft covering of a much-needed rainfall while the world is sleeping in a summer of drought. No wonder so many people in so many cultures for so many millenium have been drawn astray to earth-sun-or moon worship. No wonder they say to "Stop and smell the roses." It's not just to enjoy nature, it's to hear God speaking through his most prevalent and present art form given freely and generously to all people everywhere in all times.

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