In Flanders Fields

This comes late for 7/28, though the poem itself likely explains why. Let this be of health to those who have been wandering astray, as I have been. For those otherwise confident in their deeds, let this sober us to the value and purpose of our lives.


Lord, I kneel before Thy throne,
Judgment seat and scales’ rest,
To present myself, and beg Thy mercy.

Lord, why when was I born,
In comfort to dwell,
In leisure to ‘cline,
No sergeant in sight,
Bellyful of fat and fancy,
Rather of lead and iron.

Lord of Hosts and Laughter,
Why was I these gifts
Unfairly given,
‘Llowed to live my life
As a son of delinquence?

Marshal of Heaven,
Answer my piteous self,
For so many died
In the storm of steel,
Beneath shell and hail,
In mud and blood
to make of themselves
A feast for rats and worms.

And here I sit at ease,
All pleasure and leisure
No more than a finger away;
What men died for others to steal,
I have free to excess.
What right have I to luxury?
What right have I to pleasure?
What right have I to disobey?

How can I live for pleasure
While they rest in Flanders’ fields?

My Lord, Commander, and Judge,
Redeem me:
Redeem my time, redeem my flesh,
The hours I’ve squandered,
The life I’ve wasted;
The dreams undreamt,
The prayers unprayed;
Let me remember why poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields,
And why flowers bloom,
On Golgotha’s Hill.


For those, like me, who missed the significance of the intended original date of this post, 7/28 marks the beginning of the First World War. I will not comment here on the Great War’s significance in the course of history, though it marks the beginning of the end for the West. That is a subject for an essay (likely several) and another time.

My wish is that this poem, rambling as it is, would help us reflect on the conduct of our lives. Those of you who follow our risen Christ, I would ask your prayers for a stranger, that my deeds would echo the words I have written here, and my life would follow the Word He brought for us.

 

No Father Better

You are gracious beyond measure

Patient for eons beyond counting

Your love is faithfully ever-sure

Your will ever onward marching

Though every man a liar be

Faithful is timeless He

Ever tender, ever warm

Even to me, a lowly worm.

 

No father better to be had,

Than He who will dress the wounds

Of the ones who drove the nails;

Who loved His children onto a tree,

Where He hanged that they might live,

And rose again to take them Home.

 

Father, I want to go home.

 

Rest in Peace

How glorious that final age will be,
when all our striving shall cease,
when all His saints shall rest in peace.

How wonderful that final sigh shall be,
when we look upon warless days,
and our rumoring past falls away.

How majestic that day shall be,
When we look upon the glory of the King,
Crowned at freedom’s bells’ ring.

How happy I shall be to sleep,
Time no longer my enemy,
But my friend for all eternity.

Hasten o’God, Lord of my heart;
Bring fast Your dawn of peace!
Let me labor no longer on trifles and scrum,
Let me be nevermore anxious to do and done,
But be content that It Is Done.

And Yet…

Blessed be the artist,
For to him is given the dream of creation.

Whilst others scramble in mud,
He may dream that it is liquid silver.

While others scream over a bent fender,
He may imagine them in chivalric fashion,
A pair of armored sea lions at the tilt.

When a fish flies from the sea,
Trailing a shimmering blade of water,
He is blessed to see more than mere water;
To him is given sight to see and ears to hear
The music of all creation,
Played in between the patter of rain
The roar of the windy surf
In the booming voice of the thunder
In the scintillating fingers of lightning
Which split the sky like rivers of fire.

Blessed be the artist,
For God has opened the door
To the artists’ studio,
And given him brushes and paints,
Pens and inks and eyes to see
The beauty which lie beneath the substance.

Beauty is only skin deep,
Unless you have the eyes of God.

Marvel you artists! Marvel all,
At God’s glorious artistry!
Every gleaming drop of water,
Every flowing electron,
Every quivering proton,
Every gallant sunbeam,
Every furious thunderclap,
Howling wind, rattling rain
Roaring fire and trembling Earth
Pounding hooves and beating wings
The choir of the crickets
The harmony of human voice
And dove’s purring warble and
Ten thousand thousand songs and sights,
Made by the greatest artist of all!

The only artist whose sculptures breathe.

Cursed the Artist

Cursed is the artist,
Who ever must bear witness
To the ever distant horizon
Whose eye alone can see
Shores beyond sight
Beyond existence.

Cursed is he who must see
The shimmering crystal waters
Of a lake of ruby and gold
Guarded by a giant of iron and stone;
Imprisoned within, a maid of diamond.

For he sees another who goes
A knight of bronze and fire,
Another one forever uncreated,
Another song unsung,
Another shore unseen.
A warrior who lives only in dreams.

And though his throat parch
Thinking of those effervescent waters
He must away to a land of mud and dust
To the world where phones jingle
And engines roar, and talking puppets
Talk about the newest fashions
Of dressing cats and dogs.

Cursed is he who dreams of knighthood,
For there are no more giants
Nor maiden royalty,
And to him falls the duty
To gaze longingly at the shores of creation,
Never knowing the dreams which haunt his living.

Overtake

I’m tired of my condition.
Always inattentive.
Driven to stray.
Made to fail.

The inferior man.
No excuses.
No escape.

Every mistake.
Every heartache.
My life they take.
My soul, forsake.

I don’t know where to go.
I am lost, Elohim.

Please.
Help.
Me.

I feel you, o Father of Love.
I hear you, o Spirit of Justice.
I see you, o Savior of Souls.

May the cracks in my skin
Shine with the light of Your Law.
That I and all my earthly kin
May kneel in awe.

Every mistake.
Every heartache.
My body breaks,
That Your Glory may Overtake.

The Flock

They look up to you,

Eyes brightly blinking,

Feathers ruffled and wings flapping,

Their little minds flitting-

A moment there, and a moment gone.

 

Small, darting, a blink of thought,

A twitch of sight, attention brought,

They’re not bright,

Incapable of flight –

Yet adoring all the same.

 

How eagerly from your hand they’ll eat,

Content to have the crumb of crust,

Overjoyed at a spatter of meal,

They hop over your toes,

About your legs circling and squawking.

 

What love and affection,

How simple and untroubled –

No creased forehead,

No mistrusting glares,

But the soft, tone-deaf cluck

Of contentment,

Harmony amateur.

 


 

A not particularly good poem I feel as though I practically vomited up. I couldn’t help it really.

I was just out feeding my chickens, and I suppose it’s a commonplace enough sight – but there’s something charmingly simple in the way they swarm over you, squawking and clucking and milling around your feet, staring up at your hand as they wait for grain to fall from your fingers with an eagerness comparable even to a Labrador. Sure, a cynic will be quick to point out, “They only love you for the food you give – you’re just a walking meal.”

True enough, but are we any better? How well can we trust the affection of those around us? Any cynic can, with sufficiently logical-sounding arguments, disassemble the whole of human relations into a series of trust-based transactions built on the necessity of cooperation for survival. In many ways your garden-variety corporation differs little from a flock of animals – to the cynic, both are merely a band of individuals who shelter together for their own individual well-being. If things get tough for other members, the only justification to helping them out is that it must benefit the self in some way. This is the extent of flesh relations, what the flesh and cerebellum alone can rationalize.

We are not good to one another because we are all human. If humanity were all we had to rely on – I can only point to the decadence of Rome, the savagery of Gaul, the depravity of the Levant, the myopic slave-mongering of the West African kingdoms, the bureaucratic tyranny of Imperial China, the callous culling present throughout every epoch of the Russian civilization, our own American history with slavery – and while some might cry that Man has often justified his actions with God’s own Book, allow me to highlight the operative clause:

Man has justified his actions.

It is when Man desires to justify himself that he leads himself into error, and abandons himself to his evil as thoroughly as the ignorant pagan.

This essay must be continued another time, sadly. But allow me to end on a message of hope, not despair.

Though Man is adrift in a sea of our own wretchedness, evil from head to toe, whether it be our hands or our muttering hearts which drip with blood, we have a savior. We have One who is better than us, One who, though receiving only hatred and contempt from His people, chose to love us past the point of death. He asks little of us, compared to what He has already given us in our lives here on Earth, even before we believe on His name. He loves us with a courage and a compassion palely reflected in the broken body of the mother who shields her child from bullets with her body; in the beating heart of the volunteer who for his small republic goes to battle against the pitiless foe, though he knows he will not return home; in the eyes of the king who wields the power to take life and liberty – and seeing a guilty man before him, broken and pleading for his life even as he admits his wretchedness – spares his life.

From God comes a love that neither you nor I will experience whilst trapped in our flesh. Only when freed by the Spirit will we taste of it, and only in the final sanctification within the halls of the New Jerusalem will we truly feast.

So, do not treat your fellows cynically. Do not mistrust their love or suspect them of manipulation. That is not for you to know. But merely imitate Your Lord, and love them ever more, and love Your Lord even moreso, with all your heart, body and soul. Upon these commands is founded the whole of His Law.