Once upon a time, Mondays on this website were devoted to poetry. Because the small bites of poetry are about the only literary food I have time for these days, I’m reviving the tradition. Please tell me what you think. Would you like a poem each week?
To help you make up your mind, here’s one from a favorite poet, Luci Shaw.
It reminds me that my own “quotidian wilderness” (a land of baby bottles and cinnamon toast, children with sniffles and autumn leaves) is saturated with glory.
They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven. Psalms 105:40
I’m not asking for quails for dinner
and, if they flew in my window, at mealtime,
in a torrent of wind, I would think
aggravation, not miracle.
Time is so multiple and fluid. If I lose a day
flying the Pacific and gain it back
returning, perhaps the prayer I offered
this morning at first light
was known and answered last week.
You never know what a simple request
will get you. So, no plea for birds
from heaven. Rather, I will commit myself
to this quotidian wilderness, watching for what
the wind may bring me next –
perhaps a minor wafer tasting like honey
that I can pick up with my fingers
and lay on my tongue to ease, for this day,
my hunger to know.
– Luci Shaw
Wisdom is a treasure, a precious cargo worth seeking, but it can also feel like a heavy weight threatening to sink our ship.
Through wisdom we know that our days on this earth are brief. Like a whisper of mist. Like a flower that blooms and fades. We are little more than grass and flowers, and we know that “grass withers and the flowers fall” (Isaiah 40:8).
Through wisdom, we do indeed learn “to number our days” (Psalm 90:12).
How, then, do we hold on to wisdom’s treasure without sinking under its weight? How do we keep our spirits from tipping over into despair? “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (Ecclesiastes 1:18).
The voice of pragmatism and reason would likely advise balance. Seek wisdom but not too much. In other words, don’t overdo it!
Yet, there is nothing balanced or reasonable about following Jesus. He is a lion and a lamb, not some creature halfway between the two.
The best way may be the utterly reckless way. Pursue wisdom with everything you have. Hold tight to it and weep. Feel the grief of that knowledge. For here is another paradox: there is laughter in these tears. Lady Wisdom “can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25).
This is the laughter of children, the laughter of innocence.
To be like Jesus is to be utterly wise and thoroughly innocent, a serpent and a dove.
To be wise and innocent is to feel grief and joy that haven’t been dulled by fear. It is the wide-awake life he promised us.
“Awake, my soul!”