Monday, December 29, 2008

Help of the Ages

An original translation from Psalm 90 for New Year's

(1) A Prayer of Moses, Man of God:
Lord (Adonai), You are a Safe-Haven;
YOU are ours from generation to generation.
(2) Before the mountains were given birth
Or You brought forth the earth and the world---
From everlasting to everlasting
You are God.
(3) You return humanity unto dust
When You say, "Return, sons of Adam [man]."
(4) For a thousand years in Your eyes
Are as a day just passed
Or as a watch served in the night.
(5) You flush them away in sleep
And they are in the morning
As new green grass passed away---
(6)In the morning,
It springs up as new grass;
In the evening,
it is withered and dried out.
(10a) The days which we are given--
In them is seventy years;
Or if there is strength,
Eighty years.
(12) Teach us our days thus to reckon
So that we may obtain a heart of wisdom.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Once in Royal David's City

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all;
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall.
With the poor, the scorned, the lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child who seemed so helpless
Is our Lord in heaven above;
And he leads His children
Onto the place where He is gone.

---Cecil Frances Alexander,1848

Friday, October 31, 2008

KEE L'Oh-LAHM CHas-DOE

...For His lovingkindness lasts to eternity. (Psalm 136:10).

As I went for a walk
On legs that are able,
I praise You,
For I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
I revel in leaves
And a family picnic table.
Your works are wonderful,
How rightly I realize this! (Ps. 139:14)
...His lovingkindness lasts to eternity.

High above arches the pale blue dome
On which billowy white clouds have been hung;
He causes the clouds to rise
From the ends of the earth...
I breath in autumn
With clear, healthy lungs.
And brings out the wind
From within His storehouses. (Ps. 135:7)
...His lovingkindness lasts to eternity.

Fuzzy brown squirrels
Are storing up food...
The eyes of all look unto You,
For You give them their food in the right season.
And I munch an apple~
Sensing all that is good.
You open up Your Hand
And satisfy the wants of all living things. (Ps. 145:15-16)
...His lovingkindness lasts to eternity.

My health is restored
As only He could;
Who forgives all my sins
And heals my diseases;
My strength is as birds' wings
Going south as they should.
He satisfies my desires with good things
So that my strength is renewed like the eagle's. (Ps. 103: 3, 5)
...His lovingkindness lasts to eternity.

Tiny purple asters and once-lush green grass
Now ready for fall are dying away.
Man ~ his days are as grass,
He flourishes as a flower of the field;
Autumn reminds me that I, too, shall die
To live again in a glorious new day.
The wind blows over it and it is not,
And its own place remembers it no more. (Ps. 103:15-16)
...His lovingkindness lasts to eternity.

The cold nips my nose
As I kick about leaves...
He spreads His snow as soft wool
And scatters the frost as if ashes;
Thinking about winter
With drifts to my knees.
He hurls down His ice like pebbles~
Who can stand before His cold? (Ps. 147:16-17)
...His lovingkindness lasts to eternity.

I trust in my Father
Who looks out for me;
Create in me a clean heart, O, God
And renew an upright spirit within me.
He takes away my sins,
And I'll praise Him eternally.
O, my Lord, open up my lips
So that my mouth might declare Your praise. (Ps. 51:10,15)

Deep inside, I let out a sigh,
For You, O, Jesus, are always close by.
Because I know You, I sense You all around me
And on a day like today, I'm just "happy to be."

Praise Yahweh!
Give thanks unto Yahweh,
For He is good;
For His lovingkindness
Lasts to eternity. (Ps. 136:1)

---(c) C. Marie Byars, 1984; Winfield, KS



Monday, October 13, 2008

Farewell

[for the upcoming observances of "All Hallows' Eve" & All Saints' Day]

Tie the strings to my life, my Lord,
Then I am ready to go!
Just a look at the horses---
Rapid! That will do!

Put me in on the firmest side,
So I shall never fall;
For we must ride to the Judgment,
And it's partly down hill.

But never I mind the bridges,
And never I mind the sea;
Held fast in everlasting race*
By my own choice and thee.

Good-bye to the life I used to live,
and the world I used to know;

And kiss the hills for me, just once;
Now I am ready to go!
----Emily Dickinson

*It's really God who chooses us. (John 15:16)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vivaldi's Autumn

[This is the "Autumn" sonnet that Antonio Vivaldi wrote to accompany the "Autumn" Concerto of his "Four Seasons" Cycle. The other three seasons are in earlier posts.]


ALLEGRO
The countryman celebrates with dance and song
The sweet pleasure of a good harvest,
[The "drunkard"; LENTO]
And many, fired by the liquor of Bacchus,
[Allegro assai; adagio molto]
End their enjoyment by falling asleep.


Everyone is made to abandon singing and dancing
By the temperate air, which gives pleasure,
And by the season, which invites so many
To enjoy the sweetness of sleep.


ALLEGRO
The huntsmen come out at the crack of dawn
[The fleeing prey; LEGATO]
With their horns, guns and hounds;
The quarry flees and they track it:

Already terrified and tired out by the great noise
Of the guns and hounds, the wounded beast
Makes a feeble effort to flee but dies in agony.
----Antonio Vivaldi

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Call of the Desert

Ah. . .
I can laugh,
And my echo laughs back with me.
I can run,
And only the wind runs with me.
I can leap,
And I can land gracefully.
I see beauty:
A beauty I always see.
I am alone,
For I came to be free.
The earth speaks,
And I hear, for it's a part of me.
Who am I
That God should open my eyes to see
The deep beauty
Of what imperfect earth can be?
The thorns poke,
But even they cannot stop me;
For I laugh,
And You, O, LORD, laugh back with me.
---C. Marie Byars, 1985; New Mexico

Friday, August 8, 2008

Praise to God, Immortal Praise

Praise to God, immortal praise,
For the love that crowns our days;
Bounteous Source of every joy,
Let Thy praise our tongues employ.

Flocks that whiten all the plain;

Yellow sheaves of ripened grain;
Clouds that drop their fattening dews,
Sun that temperate warmth diffuses.
All that Spring with bounteous hand
Scatters o’er the smiling land;
All that liberal Autumn pours
From her rich o’erflowing stores.
These to Thee, my God, we owe,
Source whence all our blessings flow;
And for these my soul shall raise
Grateful vows and solemn praise.

Yet, should rising whirlwinds tear
From its stem the ripening ear;
Should the fig tree’s blasted shoot*
Drop her green untimely fruit,
Should the vine put forth no more,
Nor the olive yield her store;
Though the sickening flocks should fall,
And the herds desert the stall,
Yet to Thee my soul shall raise

Grateful vows and solemn praise;
And, when every blessing’s flown
Love Thee for Thyself alone.**
---An­na L. Bar­bauld, 1772 (adapted c.m.b. 2008)

*Habakkuk 3:17-19 (a near paraphrase). After chapters of asking "How, God?" and "Why, God?"---and getting answers from God!!---Habakkuk makes this statement of faith. [Habakkuk ties another as my favorite book of the Bible]
**Christian thinkers, C.S. Lewis included, have said that as we mature in our faith, we love God for who He is and not just for the great benefits of heaven which we get from Him

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Moon

The Moon was but a chin of gold*
A night or two ago,
And now she turns her perfect face
Upon the world below.

Her forehead is of amplest blond*;
Her cheek like beryl* stone;
Her eye unto the summer dew
The likest I have known.

Her lips of amber* never part;
But what must be the smile
Upon her friend she could bestow
Were such her silver will.

And what a privilege to be
But the remotest star!
For certainly her way might pass
Beside your twinkling door.

Her bonnet is the firmament,
The universe her shoe,
The stars the trinkets at her belt,

Her dimities** of blue.
---Emily Dickinson

*Imagery for the moon is usually "silvery." This uses more of the "yellow", and sometimes the Moon (esp. when full) does have a yellowish cast
**Dimity: A sheer, crisp (double-threaded; "di") cotton fabric. It is woven with raised stripes or checks and was used mostly for dresses or curtains.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Children of the Heavenly Father

Children of the Heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven*
Such a refuge e'er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish
In His holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things He spares them**;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever**.
Unto them His grace He showeth
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh
God His children ne'er forsaketh***;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

---Karoline Sandell-Berg (Swedish), 1858; translated Ernst W. Olson

*Jesus said, "Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. And even the hairs of your head are numbered. So stop being afraid: you are worth much more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:30. (Another song verse not given here--because it was clumsy in its translation---speaks of the numbering of the hairs.)
**Romans 8:28-39. God brings good out of all things and nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death.
***When Job's first troubles came, he responded by saying, "Naked came I from my mother's womb and naked shall I return there [the dark "womb" of the grave]. Yahweh gives and He takes away; blessed be the Name of Yahweh." Job 1:21.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

O Worship the King

O worship the King, all glorious above;
O gratefully sing His power and His love*.
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days:
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace*,
Whose robe is the light, Whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail.
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend*.

O measureless might! Unmeasurable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays**,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

---Robert Grant, 1833; adapted Marie Byars, 2008

*All this comes from Jesus
**An old-fashioned word for poetic songs

Sunday, July 6, 2008

If Only...

[This prose is almost poetic.]

If only Adam hadn't sinned, humanity would have recognized God in all creatures and would have love and praised Him so that even in the smallest blossom they would have seen and pondered His power, grace, and wisdom. But who can fathom how from the barren earth God creates so many kinds of flowers of such lovely colors and sweet scent, as no painter or alchemist could make? Yet God can bring forth from the earth green, yellow, red, blue, brown, and every kind of color. All these things would have turned the mind of Adam and his kin to honor God and glorify and praise Him and to enjoy His creatures with gratitude. ---Martin Luther ("Table Talk" 4.198, Weimar)

But through sin and the fall we humans have become so weakened, so poisoned and corrupted in body, soul, eyes, ears and everywhere that our sense are not the 100th part as sharp as were Adam's before the fall. Our bodies are unclean, and all creatures have become subject to futility (Romans 8). The [16th century!] sun, moon, stars, clouds, air, earth and water are no longer so pure and beautiful and lovely as they were [before sin]. But on that [last] day, all things will be made new and will once more be beautiful, as St. Paul says, Romans 8: "Creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." ---Martin Luther (Weimar 44.231ff)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

America the Beautiful

(These sentiments are more noble---and certainly more Christian*---than modern America deserves. And, yet, pockets of America still live this out beautifully.)

O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace* on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood**,
from sea to shining sea.

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw*;
Confirm thy soul in self control**,

 thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy* more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine**,
'Til all success be nobleness,
and ev'ry gain divine**!

O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!

 God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood**,
from sea to shining sea! --- Katharine Lee Bates, English professor at Wellesley College around 4 July, 1893
(on a trip from the east coast to Colorado Springs)

*While "Jesus" & being "saved from sin" are not clearly spelled out in this poem/song, they underlie these thoughts quire clearly
**The work of the Holy Spirit, who works in Christians to do better things and creates a true brotherhood


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Change & the Comfort of the Resurrection

(from the longer poem "That Nature is a Heraclitean (1) Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection.")

...Vastness blurs and time beats level. Enough! the Resurrection

A heart's clarion (2)! Away grief's grasping, joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck (3) shone
A beacon, and eternal beam. Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; world's wildfire, leave but ash (1):
In a flash, at a trumpet crash (4)
I am all at once what Christ is, since He was what I am, and
this Jack(5), joke poor potsherd, patch(6), matchwood, immortal diamond
Is immortal diamond.(7)
---Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1888

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Manley_Hopkins

(1) Heraclitus [(c) 535-(c) 475 B.C.); Greek philosopher who taught that the basis of all existence was change or "fire." "Strife" changes fire into water, water into earth, and then the process reversed. Hopkins didn't truly believe this philosophy but used it to symbolize the change of the corrupted nature and of the corrupting body in the grave into something immortal & beautiful (Diamonds also come out of the earth & are processed by fire.)
(2) Clarion--a clear, trumpet-like, beckoning call
(3) Foundering deck: shipwreck as a symbol of death. (Again, the "water.")
(4) Trumpet: borrowed directly from II Corinthians 15:25.
(5) "Jack": common fellow; this name was well-used in England.
(6) Patch (archaic): fool, ninny; also, a detached piece, a make-shift fragment, such as the potsherd Job used to scrape his sores (Job 2:8)
(7) "Immortal Diamond": Hopkins, as a Roman Catholic, believed that people carried the "scintilla", the spark of original good, within themselves, even after Sin entered the world. As a Lutheran, I take the immortal diamond, already there alongside the corrupt things, to be the new person that is created in Christ when the person is saved. (The term "immortal diamond" has also been used as a title for Hopkins himself.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Adventures

No new poetry right now. The family is moving to another state in the southwest. We're going someplace that is a little closer to our hearts---kinda quirky and offbeat and more historic & ethnic. We've been living in a wealthy white retirement "paradise" which has not been as much paradise to us! We hope to serve God better in a place that, at a deeper level, makes more "sense" to us!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Holy God, We Praise Your Name

[a hymnodic paraphrase of the ancient chant, the Te Deum]

Holy God, we praise Your Name;
Lord of all, we bow before You!
All on earth Your scepter claim*,
All in Heaven above adore You;
Infinite Your vast domain,
Everlasting is Your reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs** follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.

You are King of glory, Christ:
Son of God, yet born of Mary;
For us sinners sacrificed,
Bringing us a sanctuary:
First to break the bars of death,
You have opened Heaven to faith.

Therefore do we pray You, Lord:
Help Your servants whom, redeeming
By Your precious blood out-poured,
You have saved from Satan’s scheming.
Give to them eternal rest
In the glory of the blest.

Spare Your people, Lord, we pray,
By a thousand snares surrounded:
Keep us from falling away,
Never let us be confounded.
See, I put my trust in You:
Guide my footsteps in all that I do.

Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit,
Three we name You;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim You;
And adoring bend the knee,

While we own the mystery.
---Ignaz Franz (German), 1774; adapted Marie Byars, 2008

*more specifically, all of nature & all the saved acknowledge Him willingly now; someday, everyone will be made to acknowledge Him
**"martyrs": those who died as a result of their faith, giving a powerful Christian witness. ("Martyros" in Greek originally meant "witness.")

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vivaldi's "Summer"

[This continues the series of sonnets Antonio Vivaldi wrote to accompany & explain each of his "Four Seasons" concertos.]

In a harsh season burned by the sun,
Man and flock languish,
And the pine tree is scorched;
The cuckoo unleashes its voice, and soon
We hear the songs of the turtle-dove and the goldfinch.

Sweet Zephyr* blows, but Boreas** suddenly
Opens a dispute with his neighbor;
And the shepherd laments his fate,
For he fears a fierce squall is coming.

His weary limbs are robbed of rest
By his fear of fierce thunder and lightning
And by the furious swarm of flies and blowflies.

Alas, his fears are only too real:
The sky fills with thunder and lightning,
And hailstorms hew off the heads of proud cornstalks.

*A sweet, gently warm west wind
**A cold, fierce north wind (in large, flat countries, the collision of these two can brew tornadoes)

[obviously, Vivaldi was not a big fan of summer]

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Goin' Home

(adapted from a Black Spiritual)

Goin' home, goin' home;
I'm a-goin' home.
Quiet-like, some still day:
I'm just goin' home.

It's not far, just close by,
Through an open door;
Work's all done, care laid by:
Going to fear no more.

Nothing's lost, all gain;
No more fret nor pain.
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day:
Going to roam no more.

Morning star* lights the way;
Restless dream all done.
Shadows gone, break of day:
Real life just begun.


Goin' home, goin' home;
I'm just goin' home:
It's not far, just close by,
Through an open door.
I'm just going home.

* Jesus is called the "Morning Star" in Revelations 22:16 & elsewhere

(used by Anton Dvorak as the basis for the "Largo" in his New World Symphony)

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Starlight Night

Look at the stars! look. look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs*, the circle-citadels* there!
Down in the dim woods the diamond delves**! the elves' eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold*** lies!...
Ah, well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.****
---from Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877

*city images, as if the constellations were fortified cities
**the diamond-like stars dive down to the "land of elves"; (Hopkins nor I really believe in elves--it's just a fanciful & joyful flight of poetic symbolism)
***the light of the heavenly bodies is like "free gold" to anyone who takes the trouble to take it in, but it's gold in motion---it won't be there forever
****the prize comes from the purchase made by Jesus Christ; He died for your sins so all this, too, can be yours, along with the forgiveness and life you have in Him

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Luther Quote?

In the late '80's, I first saw a nature-scene poster with a quote attributed to Martin Luther, "God writes His gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars." Now it's all over the Internet. But I cannot find the exact source within Luther's works, nor an attribution of source when it's quoted. One longer extraction placed it in the context that when you know Christ, know the incarnation, know His salvation for you, then you can see the gospel written in all things. This would make more sense from Luther. Is it possibly from the Weimar edition of "Table Talk", in some section not fully translated into English?

Some Lutheran theologians discount any talk of nature as: (1) an excuse not to go to church (2) a seeking after only a glorious, powerful God, not the God who had to die in weakness and shame upon the cross to save us from our sins, or (3) not having anything important to teach us in religious matters. These opinions are fair neither to Luther nor to the Bible, both of which extensively use object lessons & metaphors from the Bible to make their point. (Even if the quote above is not authentically Lutheran, Luther's thinking is so replete with mentions of nature---far more than music, beer, women, or many other things attributed to Luther.) If you're a Christian, you have the Bible (or portions of it) embedded within yourself when you're out in nature. So you will be able to learn these lessons. Nature now dimly reflects great glories of Eden which were lost when sin broke the created world and also what we can expect in the new creation, heaven. The latter half of Romans 8 which speaks of "all creation groaning" due to humanity's sin. There are Lutherans who really take that angle seriously, too, while taking in nature; that's another aspect of taking sin seriously!!!
If you're more of a "concrete" as opposed to "abstract" person, the frequent references to nature are faith-building because they are within God's word.
(For more, see earlier post, "The Dirty Floor")

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vapory Mists

[HEH-vell heh-vah-LEEM; Hah-KOHL HAH-vell.]
Vapor of Vapor*; all is (vanishing) vapor
[Mah--yith-ROHK lah-ah-DAHM**]
What profit is it for a man
[B'kohl--eh-mah-LOH sh-yah'-ah-MOHL]
In all his labor which he does
[TACH-ath ha-SHEMM-esh.]
Under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1: 2a-3)

*Often translated as "vanity of vanities"; the Hebrew really says "vapor" because, no matter how much you clutch at vapor, you cannot hold it
**"Adam", a man

Kind of "bleak" taken on its own! But the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes reminds us we get all of our meaning by remembering our Creator in the days of our youth. And we know that in Jesus, we shall have begun and shall more perfectly live that life in heaven which knows of no vanity or uselessness or futility.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What a Waste!

Our Solid Waste Problem

Already in the 1980s, National Geographic alerted readers that so-called bio-degradables don't really break down in landfills. They studied lettuce, for instance, that was nearly 20 years old and still not broken down. And there is much more in the way of thrown-out foodstuffs and yard waste. More recently, William L. Rathje of University of Arizona wrote in his book, Rubbish! the Archeology of Garbage,
"They [landfills] are not vast composters; rather, they are vast mummifiers." He went on to write, "Well-designed and well-mamaged landfills, in particular, seem to be far more apt to preserve their contents for posterity than to transform them into humus or mulch."

Solutions? Compost at home. If you can't create a compost heap, try mini-composting: place food waste on the ground right near plants & partially hidden by the foliage or between plants & slightly spaded into the soil. Use a mulching lawn mower. So far, the U.S. has been blessed with enough space not to worry about this, but the time will come.
Plus, coupling people's desire to become more "green" with the current recession means that maybe we can look at some jobs & technology in green fields. Maybe we could invent giant "rakes" to go in and occasionally turn over detritus in existing landfills so that the bio-degradables will compost. We Americans with our so-called "Yankee ingenuity" have been falling down on the job, so to speak, for some decades now. And we Christians have not followed our first pre-sin injunction to take care of this earth.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens*, and thrush**
Through the echoing timber does so rise and wring
The ear, it strides like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing limbs, too, have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden---have, get before it cloy***
Innocent mind and Mayday**** in girl and boy,
Most, O Maid's Child*****,

Thy choice and worth the winning.
---Gerard Manley Hopkins, may 1877

*Eggs the color of the sky & reminders of it
**Thrush: the songbird, not the yeast-related infection (ha, ha!!)
***Cloy: to satiate, us. w/something pleasing. Basically, hurry to enjoy this fleeting reminder of Eden before it is spoiled, as the first Eden was by sin
****Mayday: May 1st. Celebrated in Europe with flowers & folk dances. (Happy Mayday! Also, Blessed Ascension. This year, the day commemorating Jesus's bodily Ascension through the clouds, after which we could no longer see Him physically, is also May 1st.)
*****Maid's Child: The Virgin's Son, Jesus. (Roman Catholics devote all of May to Mary.) This suggests that Jesus would choose the "innocent" boys & girls more than anyone else. Actually, no one's innocent & God loves all us rotten sinners just the same.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Birds in Scripture

My soul longed, even yearned
For the courts of Yahweh.
My mind* and my flesh
Cry out to the Living God.
Even the songbird** has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself
Where she may lay her young---
Your altars, Oh Yahweh of Armies,
My King and my God! (Psalm 84:2-3)

(Yahweh says)
"I know every bird in the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the forest are Mine." (Ps. 50:11)

In Yahweh have I trusted:
How do you [plural: "y'all"] say to my soul,
"Flee as a bird to your [plural] mountain"?? (Ps. 11:1)

(O, Yahweh),
Keep me as the apple of Your eye:
In the shadow of Your wings hide me. (Ps. 17:8)

"As birds flying around,
Thus will Yahweh of Armies protect Jerusalem.
Defending, he will deliver.
He will 'pass over' and protect." (Isaiah 31:5)

Mighty Yahweh,
You have made yourself known in your Son, Jesus.
Through His crucifixion,
You have established for us a "New Passover"
Where You "pass over" the wrongs we do
And the failures to do right.

As Jesus said, make us to trust
The way the ravens do
"Which niether sow (grain) nor reap
Nor gather (food) into barns"
And are yet fed by our Heavenly Father.
(Matthew 6:25-27 & Luke 12:22-24)

We are worth so much more to You
And, yet, we fill up our lives
With things that are worthless.
Forgive us, love us, and keep working in us
To give us the simple trust of your little birds.

[original Bible translations & explanatory verses]

*Literally "heart", which ancient Hebrews considered the seat of the intellect.
**"Sparrow" in some translations

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Flowers & Grasses in Scripture

"'Man, born of woman,
is of few days, full of turmoil.
As a flower he springs forth
and fades away;
And as a fleeting shadow,
he does not last.'" (Job14:1-2)
"Man--his days are as grass;
As a flower of the field he thus flourishes." (Psalm 103:15)
"They are in the morning
as
new grass which springs up.
In the morning it springs and grows;
in the evening it withers and dries out." (Ps. 90:5b-6)
"A voice says, 'Cry out!'
And I say, 'What shall I cry?'
[God replies],
'All flesh is green grass
and all its loveliness as the flower of the field.'
The grass withers, the flower fades
because the Spirit [or 'breath'] of Yahweh blows upon it.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the Word of God shall stand forever." (Isaiah 40:6-8)
[Messiah says]
"'I am the Crocus* of Sharon,
the Lily of the Valleys.'" (Song of Songs 2:1)
[Because of Messiah Jesus]:
"The wilderness and parched land will be glad;
And the desert-plain will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus it will bloom profusely
And rejoice greatly and shout for joy." (Isaiah 35:1-2a)
----original translations

*not really "rose of Sharon"---it's a crocus in Hebrew!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just Say "No"

to Faux Environmentalism

Corn-based bio-fuel is not the right choice for lowering green-house gases: it actually makes the problem worse due to the agricultural energy expended to create this product. This practice also drives up food costs. The best choice in bio-fuel is algae based, although it will initially be more expensive to produce. Hybrid cars are not as earth-friendly as their makers promise, either. The making and disposing of those batteries creates toxic heavy metal areas. Better ideas? Why not make more progress on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) autos? That burns fairly cleanly. And work harder to make hydrogen cars a reality. Solar and wind cars might be an interesting idea, too, but they might not work in all climates, and the storage means for that type of energy could prove to be toxic, also, if not developed properly.

BTW: Even if you don't believe that there is human-driven global warming, it is beyond dispute that our waste products are not good for us. (NO organism can live in its own waste!) Pollution from factories & cars creates or furthers asthma and can eat away at classic building facades and statues in big cities. The process for bleaching all those nice white paper napkins & coffee filters creates serious carcinogens (such as what devastated Times Beach years ago) & so on. I keep hoping & praying that simple things like brown paper goods will catch on & become cheaper & more mainstream at the grocery. (After all, they're avoiding a step that costs money.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Vivaldi's Spring

[This is the explanatory sonnet Antonio Vivaldi wrote to preface the "Spring" Concerto, part of the "Four Seasons" Cycle.]

ALLEGRO
Spring has arrived,
And joyfully the birds greet her with glad song,
[FLOWING STREAMS]/LEGATO
While at the Zephyr's* breath
The streams flow forth with a sweet murmur.

Her chosen heralds, thunder and lightning,
Come to envelop the air in a black cloak;
Once they have fallen silent, the little birds
Return anew to their melodious incantation.

LARGO
Then on the pleasant, flower-bedecked meadows,
To the happy murmur of fronds and plants,
The goatherd sleeps next to his trusty dog.

ALLEGRO
To the festive sound of rustic bagpipes
Nymphs and shepherds dance beneath
The beloved sky
At the glorious appearance of spring.
----Antonio Vivaldi

*Zephyr: the warm west wind

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Something's UN-Natural Here

A REQUIEM

[I prefer to write rhymed & rhythmic, or at least alliterative, poems. There wasn't time this time. Also, this is generally not an issue-oriented blog. But I had to make this exception.]

Something's afoul on England's pleasant soil:
The egg's a cow's; the nucleus a human's;
The purpose is subhuman.

Your false-creators say they're not cloning humans:
Your development is stopped at 14 days;
Your cells are still all of one type---
The type they want to take from you.

But you are human---you must be
With your 46 chromosomes
And your human DNA.
You are the smallest of my distant cousins.

I was outraged enough when such false-creators
Made "Day-Glo" monkeys with jellyfish genetics---
Just because they could.
They said it was "learning";
I said it was sadism because
"An upright person acknowledges

the life-force of his animal." (Proverbs 12:10a)
God gave us all these animals to care for, too,
At the beginning of time,
Before human evil entered
And separated them from us.

And, now, O Lord God Yahweh,
You who brought down human hubris
By instilling many languages at Babel:
Will you not now come and confuse this language
If we cannot use the genetic code more wisely?

You who told Job
That You had fixed the limits of the sea (Job 38:10),
Will You not stem this tide, also?
If You will not do it Yourself,
Will You not show us the right way to be the seawall
Before this sea of technology drowns the helpless?
Do we need to bear our crosses better?
Do we need to relearn the meaning of sacrifice?
What better thing must we do than shout slogans
Or retaliate with violence ourselves?
What great cost must we bear
To be truly seen and heard?

The false-creators claim they are
Preserving human life.
They say they can extend others' lives.
But, why?
The True Creator tells us
"There's a time to be born
And a time to die." (Ecclesiastes 3:2a)
And I reiterate, "For me to live is Christ;
For me to die is great gain." (Philippians 1:21)

But these false-creators have a different logic:
The survival of the fittest.
But if they follow their own logic,
Why should we continuously preserve existing life
If what comes after us is to be better?
Science claims logic
But scientists often lack it.

And, you, my dear little relatives---
When time ends and this world winds down
Will the Mighty and Gracious Yahweh
Clothe You in the Righteousness of Christ,
Although you never heard the Name of "Jesus"?
Will He fashion for you the fully formed body
Which you never enjoyed in this lifetime?
I do not know. I do not know.
His wisdom is sometimes inscrutable.
I can only hope. . .
I can only hope. . .

---Marie Byars, April 2008