Wings

It has been quiet on this blog… but today I publish the poem I wrote for the FaithWriters’ Challenge in October—the topic was “Zest.” Since then I have concentrated on writing in my mother tongue, Dutch. I am grateful to have been accepted as a member of a Dutch writers group, LetterSpinsels, where I will have every opportunity to further develop my writing skills. But I still love to write in English and who knows, maybe one day, I will write another book in this beautiful language.

If you are curious about my Dutch writings, see Kleurrijke Koorden (Colorful Threads).


Wings

Wings

While I stare into the dreary dawn of yet another day,
I am struggling for the strength and the steadiness to pray;
the constant whipping of a storm has left my spirit frayed.
God, please show
me how to grow.

All is quiet but a flitter: wings against the glass.
A fritillary at the window, frantic, tries to pass
the unseen obstacle to life. At the impasse,
it sits inert.
Maybe it’s hurt.

Despite myself, I scramble up to save the little thing.
Carefully, I cup my hands around its tender wings.
Against my palm, it tickles as it grasps and tightly clings.
Fatigue aside,
I stride outside.

My hands unfold. It sits so still, hiding its colored dress,
as if waiting for a sign. A breath of wind caresses…
It climbs the air; its rising, circling flight expresses
my delight;
a joyful sight.

A twisting dive, a swoop of wings, a swallow’s beak snaps shut
around the tiny butterfly. The cruelty converts
the blissful fluttering into a cramping knot of hurt.
With drooping head,
I trudge to bed.

How can I live abundantly when life resembles Sheol,
where I’m straggling through the dark—no map, no route, no goal—
and predators are on the prowl to feast upon my soul?
I shroud my face
and my disgrace.

Don’t hide and keep your heart from me, by circumstances bound.
Hide in the shadow of My wings, where steadfast love abounds.
Profounder joy and brighter light are nowhere to be found.
Come to Me
and be free.

Hues of pastel pink and blue now paint the new day’s sky.
I get up and spread my arms—I am God’s butterfly—
In His protection and His force, with eagle’s wings I’ll fly.
No time to waste—
there’s life to taste.

***

Bible references: Psalm 36:7-9, Isaiah 40:31.

photo credit: Silver-washed Fritillary via photopin (license)

Spiritual Desert

image

The year following my baptism in 2005, I suffered from a depression. I nourished wounds from the past, questioned present pains, and tried to solve my problems through introspection and motivational self-talk. I was lost in an area run dry–until God spoke to me through Palm 63.

He said, “Cling to Me. I am the Answer to all your questions, the Solution to every problem.”

It was my breakthrough. Pride and bitterness dissolved as I reached out to Him and surrendered my all.

He healed me and led me out of my spiritual desert.

Psalm 63 is still important to me, especially verse 8.

My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

It has become the anchor that holds me close to the Source of Life.

Inspired by Psalm 63, I wrote the following haibun.

——————

I’m walking–no, trudging.

Where am I? 

My feet trip over a rock hidden under the cover of darkness. Branches slap my face, thorns scratch my skin. A sharp pain shoots through my hands and knees when they hit the rough ground. 

Moaning, I get back on my feet and stumble on.

Where’s the path?

My breath comes in raw gasps. Bitterness burns my mouth, dry despair my soul.

Water.

Evil reaches for my legs, encircles my spinning thoughts. It weaves a web of lies–I’m stuck. I squirm, I twist. Deceiving threads tighten around my heart.

Help

A Voice calls my name. I hear
and cling to Him. Praise!
All’s calm, I’m free, my path’s clear.

Pray for Joe

omnishamblesGive me a few minutes of your time, and I will let you look through three windows into three different lives. Why? I’ll explain you afterwards. For now, just watch.

First window

A strong wind whips raindrops against Judas’ face. The ex-disciple of Jesus doesn’t notice; he just runs.

I have done wrong, so wrong!

Convinced that Jesus was a fraud, he had tried to save his own reputation with the religious leaders by betraying him for a miserable thirty silver pieces.

Why did he talk about dying anyway? A real king would have gathered an army and claimed his position, wouldn’t he?

Yet, while Judas watched Jesus’ arrest and agony, something didn’t tally. Jesus never tried to defend himself.

Overwhelmed by the realization of what he had done, Judas went back to the priests and exclaimed, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!”

They laughed at him in derision. “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

Humiliated, he threw the pieces of silver into the temple and ran off.

Suddenly he stumbles over a stone and bumps into the rough bark of a tree. Gasping, he turns around and sees how a thunderstorm rages above Golgotha.

Jesus is surely dead by now.

Guilt crushes him. Without hope of restoration from his sin, Judas tears off a long strip of his garment and lifts himself upon the first branch…

Second window

Lightning cracks. Rain washes away bitter tears of remorse from the face of Peter, Jesus’ first disciple. From afar, he sees Jesus’ body hanging limp on the cross.

The day before, when Jesus announced his death, Peter proclaimed that he was ready to die for him. However, when it came to the crunch, he denied him for fear that he too would be arrested.

Not just once, but three times!

When that rooster crowed, the full realization of his cowardice settled upon him.

Oh how Jesus looked at me!

He still believes that Jesus was God’s anointed King, but doesn’t understand why he had to die.

Now what? Without Jesus, life makes no sense.

Yet, beyond shame and confusion, there is a glimmer of hope. Somehow, he knows this isn’t the end…

Third window

Alone in his office, Joe stares out the window at the heavy rainfall. Puddles reflect the streetlights.

No light for me, only darkness.

His business is about to go bankrupt, despite his best efforts.

First, he contacted a sooth-sayer who foresaw a profitable client. When this happened indeed, Joe’s business prospered and he rented more luxury accommodations. When the client was placed under conservatorship—all assets frozen—while still owning him $400,000, Joe was unable to pay off his own debtors.

The economic crisis dealt the next blow; fewer orders meant less turnover and an often empty account. His supportive wife agreed to pledge their house to the bank so that it would finance his payroll obligations.

Profit margins becoming tighter, he put out work to subcontractors who—without his knowledge—didn’t fulfill their tax obligations and employed illegal immigrants.

Someone tipped off the tax department; the subcontractor fled and Joe was wrongly accused of tax evasion and exploitation of foreign workers. It had been in all the local newspapers.

One by one, his clients disappeared, carrying off his hope.

Last month his brother introduced him to Christians who encouraged him to let Jesus rule his life instead of money, reputation, fear, or shame.

He tried everything: praying, reading the Bible, attending meetings. Yet he didn’t see any change.

They asserted, “You are more than your work. Jesus is alive; he loves you, and has a better plan for your life. Trust Him.”

Easy for them to say. They don’t have to face their creditors every day.

Today his lawyer called. His major creditor has requested his bankruptcy.

All hope is gone now. The end of my business, my house, my life. Jesus, do you exist at all?

***********

What did you see? Three human beings, each in omnishambles. The Bible tells what happened with Judas and Peter (Matthew 27:3-5, John 21:15-17). But what about Joe?

Joe is the pseudonym for someone I met recently. His story isn’t finished yet. And he needs your prayers.

Please pray that “Joe” won’t make the mistake that Judas did. Pray that he will cling to hope, like Peter, who was restored by the resurrected Jesus. Pray that he will learn to trust the living God who redeems and restores lives—no matter how big the mess.