For dust I am, and to dust I shall return.
And so shall all my works, such as have not already crumbled to ashes in my hand.
By the nature I have inherited from every ancestor, and recapitulated of my own doing, I am inherently inclined “to hate God and my neighbor.”
What life I have comes to me—and what of any worth I am able to do, I am able to do—only by the unfathomable grace of God extended to me for the sake of Jesus Christ his Son.
Whenever time and circumstance bring me to reflection, I can say little more than (to adapt the epigram of Ovid I found two years ago) “Videbam meliora probabamque, deteriora sequebar“: “I have seen and approved the better, [but] followed the worse.”
Lord, you have been gracious and merciful, permitting this unworthy person to continue in life, health, and breath. To this but add the mercy of repentance, and the grace to walk in your ways!
I am not my own; I have been bought at a price (a price far heavier than the symbolic ashes of last year’s palms), and so belong to Jesus Christ.
I wish a merry Christmas and blessed Christmas season to all my readers.
It is common, in some circles in which I move, to say that Jesus was born “that first Christmas morning” or even “that first Christmas morn.” But I, being curious and something of a quibbler by nature, have at times wondered: what time of day was the Christ Child born? Is the idea that he was born in the morning “possible, but in this life we’ll never know,” like the popular notion that there were exactly three Magi (or in fact that he was born on what is now December 25), or “unlikely,” like Rossetti’s charming, picturesque, theologically on-point, but in-details-dubious poem “In the Bleak Midwinter”? Continue reading ““That first Christmas evening””
Today is the day the United States government designated for public thanksgiving to God, and so it is fitting for me to, as I have done for the past eight years on this day, reflect on the various ways God has blessed me over the course of my life, and in particular in the past year.
The failure of time in which to write and of memory, and my instinct to prefer brevity over repeating myself, ensure that my first reflection on this theme, in 2009, remains the most extensive and detailed; in subsequent years I have mostly more-briefly listed blessings I had forgotten and those I saw as new. Continue reading ““But Thanks Be to God”: A Ninth Reflection”
“Hosanna! Savior, hail!” the masses cried
To greet their rightful King, though in their hearts
They shouted more to strain the chafing bonds
That long-oppressive Rome had laid on them
Than from true fealty to God’s anointed.
Not one week later, these same thronging crowds,
Incited by their leaders’ selfish plots
And stirred up into frenzied lust for blood,
Now clamored for their King to be condemned,
Abused, accursed, and put to gruesome death.
As he trudged through the streets, and up the hill,
Then hung in agony for his last hours,
The multitudes passed by to mock his end
Or stood to shout more scorn, but he was silent,
Suffering the bitter fate he chose
Without complaint, and even speaking grace
To those who tortured him before he died.
At last he breathed his final mortal breath
And cried his work’s completion to the sky;
An earthquake marked the opening of the way
That greater multitudes thereafter tread
Who have been, by his sufferings, brought to peace.
I had long intended to write a poem for Good Friday, or at least for Holy Week, as in several of the last few years, but the first glimmers of an idea for the above only came to me less than a week ago.
As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.
“Thanks be to God!” let all my being say:
For light, and eyes to see it, breath of life,
Abundant water running clean and clear,
The harvest’s bounty, stars on high so fair,
Friendship’s warmth and kindness, family’s love,
The glory of the ever-changing earth,
And so much more—but let me not forget
That God deserves my greatest thanks of all
For the great mercy he has daily shown
To this unworthy sinner, in his grace
Accepting me, forgiving my offenses
(More each hour), and with his sworn assurance
Promising a lasting share in Christ.
I’ve had the beginning of this bouncing around in my head for several weeks, ever since I first tried to think about writing a poem for the week of Thanksgiving. But every time, it seemed, I tried to sit down to write any more of it, some distraction intervened, so I didn’t finish it until today.
As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.
Today is the day designated for public thanksgiving to our Creator for gracious gifts which his divine Providence has lavished upon us. Thus, it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past seven years, reflect on the various and manifold blessings God has poured on me over the course of my life, and in particular this past year, and how I have responded to this beneficence (with the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to show appropriate gratitude).
This is the eighth year I have written on this theme; in the first such reflection, in 2009, I explained the blessings I was grateful for at length and in some detail, and in subsequent years I have more briefly listed those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today. Continue reading ““But Thanks Be to God”: An Eighth Reflection”
This is the day designated publicly to give thanks to our Creator for the gracious gifts he has, in divine Providence, lavished upon us. And so it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past six years, reflect on the manifold blessings with which God has showered me over the course of my life, and in particular the past year, and whether I have responded as I ought to this beneficence (to the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to act in appropriate gratitude).
This is the seventh year I have written to describe and summarize those people, events, and things for which I give thanks to God; 2009 saw an extended reflection in which I explained them in some detail at length, and each subsequent year I have written an addendum, more briefly listing those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today. Continue reading ““But Thanks Be to God”: A Seventh Reflection”