Weariness

Why?

Why?

… says Jacob.
… asks Israel.

My Lord doesn’t even notice
As justice slinks away.

Don’t you know?
Haven’t you heard?

Eternal God, Creator of the Universe
Doesn’t tire
Doesn’t wear out.
Just try to find something
God doesn’t understand!

Giving strength to the weary
Great power to the powerless

Even the young tire out,
Young men stumble and fall.

Those who depend on God

Renew their strength.
Rise like eagles in flight.
Run without getting tired.
Walk without wearing out.

So why do you ask?

We are weary.
We can’t fly.
We do wear out.
We can’t see that God sees.

How long, Eternal God?

Hear our prayer for strength!

(Adapted from Isaiah 40:27-31. Image credit: Openclipart.org, imposed on one of my own photographs.)

God’s Perfect Calendar

Everything has its season.
Each purpose has its time.

A time for birth,
a time for death.

A time to put in,
a time to pull out.

A time to kill,
a time to heal.

A time to demolish,
a time to construct.

A time to cry,
a time to laugh.

A time to lament,
A time to jump for joy.

A time to scatter stones,
A time to gather them up.

A time for embrace,
a time for distance.

A time to search,
a time to let go.

A time to protect,
a time to throw away.

A time to tear,
a time to mend.

A time to shut up,
a time to speak up.

A time to love,
a time to hate.

A time for war,
a time for peace.

–Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A calendar divine
with blocks of time for all,
on every page a plan,
a way to rise or fall.

They say it’s very great,
God’s timing never fails.
His planning fills the need,
that nothing ill derails.

But when I check the list,
there’s war and death and weeds.
Along with planting seeds,
There’s room for angry deeds.

I’d like a plan with peace,
with laughter, rhyme, and life.
I want to plant and grow,
but never spark such strife!

So why does God send death,
to follow after birth?
And why a time to smash,
To weed or foster dearth?

But then I hear a voice,
that asks me how I live.
There’s time for war or peace,
but which one will I give?

God’s plan has lots of space,
to fill with what will last.
Or not! He makes you free,
to kill or break or blast.

And though it’s true that birth,
in death will always end.
The way you fill that space,
Will echo without end.

A Path Goes By

A path goes by
Along a gas line bare.
Short grass grows or dies.
Garbage gathers.
The pole stands alone.

Does the pole dream
of rows of poles
carrying telegrams
then phone calls
or perhaps electricity?

Does the pole wonder
why gas flows below
why a person walks by
why a truck dumps trash
why trees grow and die?

It’s just a pole.
It doesn’t care.
I walk on by
and wonder.
And probably forget.

Give the Creator the Credit Due – A Poetic Response to Psalm 148

Give the Creator the credit that’s due.

Shine forth

Distant galaxies
Glowing nebulas
Giant stars
Blackest holes.

Go out

Angels bright
Seraphim flashing
Winds blowing
Flames burning.

Since God is the maker, the builder, designer,
Our lifegiver, ruler, sustainer, refiner.

Learn of him

Scientist
Physicist
Astronomer
Chemist

Tell of him

Historian
Sociologist
Theologian
Philosopher

Give the creator the credit that’s due.

(With additional credit to Psalm 19 and Psalm 104. Featured image credit: Openclipart.org.)

Seeing God’s Shape

I saw God’s shape
in tall oak tree
in lovely flower
in rising sun
flowing stream
mountain high
ocean wide
when lightning glows
and lightens dark night sky.

I saw God’s shape
in falling branch
in faded bloom
in setting sun
raging flood
volcanic blast
hurricane
when lightning strikes
and splits and burns and kills.

But did I truly see
God’s shape
in one
in some
in none
or all of these?

(Copyright © 2012, Henry E. Neufeld)

Adaptation of Psalm 91

April Lorier provides a poetic adaptation of Psalm 91 that I really appreciate.

It is not a matter of theology, translation, or Biblical exegesis, but rather the fact that the message of the Psalm is expressed personally in a way that touched her heart, and in turn touches mine.

This is one element of Bible study that I think is missing, and it is really one of the most critical–seeing ourselves somewhere in there. Adaptations help us to do that. Telling related stories will do that.

Psalm 103 as Blank Verse

OK, here’s another try at transforming a Psalm, in this case, by putting it into blank verse. There are some wonderful parallelisms in Psalm 103, but a great deal of that impact is lost on English readers. Here I try to present the message in blank verse, which provides some meter. I’m still sticking fairly close to the thought structure of the Psalm as it is. As I have time I may play around some more and try to create additional translations using other poetic forms.

May all I am from deep within speak blessings of my God!
Oh let me not forget the things my God has given to me

He it is forgives my sins.
He it is who heals my ills.
He it is my life redeems.
He it is his grace pours out.
He my life with good things fills.
He’s the one renews my strength.

My God does right and justice gives for all who are oppressed.
He showed his servant Moses ways and deeds he knew were right.
My God is kind, he will abide, his anger slow to show.
His accusations soon will end, his favor then we’ll see.

Our sins are great, but mercy’s more, our guilt receives his grace.
As heaven’s far above the earth, so grace exeeds our fall.
As far as east is from the west, so far transgressions sent.
As parent cares for wayward child, so cares our God for us.

Because he knows just who we are; recalls that we are dust.
We’re like the grass that fades and dies, like flower that blooms then fails.
A wind may blow and then it’s gone, it’s roots cannot be found.
But my God’s grace forever stands, his justice never fails.
To those who keep his covenant, to those who do his word.

Let angels, every power who does his word come bless my God.
Let all the host who serve and do his will come bless my God.
May all that he has done in every place he rules come bless my God.
May all I am from deep within speak blessings of my God!

Psalm 46 as an Italian Sonnet

This is the result of my having fun with my morning devotions and then mixing it with thinking about translation theory. Anyone up to produce Psalm 46 in another poetic form? I’m particularly interested in playing with translating into fixed forms.

I’m safe with God my strength, my shield, my friend.
In danger he is sure and will be there.
When broken world and shattered mount I dare,
No fear I know, on God I will depend.

All water’s safe where God his help can lend.
His city glows with joy as streams there fare.
The center of his city’s in his care.
At dawn he comes, he shouts, he will defend.

My God is here with troops, his joy, his strength.
Let’s look and see what works he’s going to show.
He stops a war, he goes and weapons breaks.

Be quiet, soul, the world watch, breadth and length
See how all know he’s great wher’ere winds blow.
He rules, he saves, he hears, all peace he makes.

Copyright © 2006, Henry E. Neufeld

The Maze

An intelligence
Caught in a maze
Of action
Reaction
Interaction
Senseless negligence.

The intelligence
Thinks in the maze
Of action
Connection
Direction
Hope for deliverance.

That intelligence
Finds in the maze
Affection
Guidance
Radiance
Faith with a difference.

This intelligence
Mangles the maze
With action
Connection
Direction
Help from a confidence.

The confidence
Gets from the maze
Senses
Emotions
Sensitivity
Power from indigence.

(Copyright 1983 by Henry Neufeld)