Spring

“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

– Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay

Scaffolding

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“Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.”

– Seamus Heaney, “Scaffolding” in Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966–1996

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A Hymn to God the Father

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin by which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

– John Donne, A Hymn to God the Father

“Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like a usurpt town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your Viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

– John Donne, Holy Sonnets, XIV.

“The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.”

“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.”

– William Cowper

photo: source

I Cannot But Rejoice

“Sometimes a light surprises, the Christian while he sings,
It is the Lord Who rises, with healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again,
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after the rain.

In holy contemplation, we sweetly then pursue,
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow, bring with it what it may.

Tomorrow can bring us nothing, but He will bear us through:
Who gives the lilies clothing, will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens, will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither, their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the fields should wither, nor flocks or herds be there,
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.”

– William Cowper

photo: apdk

Celebrate the Incarnation

As an FYI, the lyrics to this well known Christmas hymn are absolutely fantastic.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Shine Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

photo: Mark Gstohl

Continual Repentance

O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,

and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,

clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;

my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins;
no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,

and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

I am always going into the far country,

and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou are always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,

every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of

the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

– “Continual Repentance,” Valley of Vision, Ed. Arthur Bennett (East Peoria: Banner, 2007), 76.

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

– Joyce Kilmer

photo: davedehetre

Sovereign Ruler of the Skies

Sov’reign Ruler of the skies;
Ever Gracious, ever wise;
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command,

His decree who form’d the earth
Fix’d my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by him.

He that form’d me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Order’d by his wise decree.

Times of sickness; times of health;
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;

Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste the Savior’s love
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.

Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.

– John Ryland

photo: Brenda Starr