Tag Archives: Faith

Commandments

In our lives, in this world, so much of what we hear screams at us; so much of what we see strains the eye; so much stimulus overwhelms our senses.  So how do we sense the sublime? How do we discern the quintessential?  Beauty and ugliness both surround us.  To see beauty despite what is ugly requires both a choice to see, and a belief that beauty is there to be seen. For a moment, put aside religion, God, spirituality, and morality–and trust that intrinsic beauty and goodness are real.  That is when you will see.  My poem “Commandments” points at the difficulty of having faith in goodness, of sensing the sublime, of believing in beauty, touches on the straining effort faith requires, but affirms the reality and virtue of light, goodness, beauty, and sublimity, and their power to eclipse evil.

COMMANDMENTS

Of you
I require
to hear Wren’s peep
through the hurricane’s howl,
to stare at the sun
yet see Luna fly,
to feel the breeze on your skin
as you’re quartered and drawn.
I demand your peaceability
despite warmongerings and deceits,
against abominations and lying hearts.
Your peaceable walk
I adjure.
Discern the beauty
of the muddy speck,
the song
in the screech and cry.

Prayer

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Prayer Rock by Laura Baker

Prayer has never come easy for me.  I avoid it, put it off, wander in my thoughts, cut it short.  Yet, I pray every day, because I have been told to, all my life.  It’s what I should do, they said.  I also pray because I want to believe that someone is listening and caring and responding.  But really I pray because I cannot deny a subtle, loving presence that abides and sustains when I am prayerful.  Prayerful through formal kneeling prayers as well as daily mindfulness.

For a family activity, we had each child choose a special rock from our faux riverbed, a rock to paint.  Laura (now 20) painted this rock when she was a young girl.  She gave it to me: a present for dad.  I keep it on my nightstand where I see it every morning and every night.  I call it my prayer rock.  I reminds me to bend my knee and bow my head, in humility, in gratitude, in desperate supplication, in recognition of the divine.

I offer to you two short poems on prayer.  Fitful, imperfect, but sincere prayer.

YES, I PRAY

Do you pray morning and night? they asked.

I wondered, Do I?

I pray all the day long.
My life is a prayer.
Living is a prayer–
a sacred expression of dreams, frustrations, loves, and straining efforts;
a reaching out to the One who can reveal the mysteries hidden deep within;
a cry of faith and despair, of struggle and the hope of victory;
an ever truer reconciliation of heaven and earth.

Yes, I pray.

ENDURING

Father–
I am here, and
I am listening.

A Cross To Hold

Holding Cross-crop

Elizabeth recently sent to me a special crucifix, carved from olive wood, that she called her holding cross.  Anne, wife of Father Chris, had gifted the cross to Elizabeth during a difficult period of Elizabeth’s life.  “For when there are no words,” Anne had said.  Elizabeth kept her holding cross close day and night, grasping it as she slept, toting it in her purse, carrying it as she walked along the beach, feeling it in her pocket.  Knowing that I, too, was passing through a challenging time of loss and loneliness, Elizabeth gifted her cross to me.  She sacrificed something holy and dear to her so that I might find comfort in the cross, as had she.  How I appreciate her gift, which arrived the day after Christmas.

Since receiving Elizabeth’s holding cross, now my holding cross, I have often sat in contemplation of its features, simple and beautiful.  I have thought of the wounds of Christ, the pain he suffered on our behalf, the love he beams to each of us, the dreadful certainty of his death, and the certain hope of his resurrection.  Though often a trying exercise, I labor to trust in him to mentor me in each moment, to show me the ways of patience and generosity, to coach me at kindness and compassion.  Turning the holding cross over and over in my fingers, staring at it in my palms, the words of this poem began to flow and form.  It is my hope that this poem inspires hope within all who read it.

A CROSS TO HOLD

These two arms, outstretched,
fit the curving
space between my fingers
as I caress, hold tight, caress.
Those hands, two,
at the end
brought tears, and blood,
that I make my own
through kindness.
The head inclines
to me, to all
the world, the masses.
I wonder at the mystery,
joy in the simplicity.
The feet: his feet: my feet:
wandering purposefully through
time and tide;
standing firm through all;
footprints to follow.
Olive wood glistening
from the oils and sweat
of your hands, of my hands,
from lips’ kisses;
polished with beeswax,
scented with lemon oil:
smooth; soft;
shining.
Hope,
in my hands,
holding.

Chapter 29: Gardens

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–Knock, knock.–
–Who’s there?–
–I got up.–
–I got up who?–
(Hyrum-4 with Dad)

Despite the bright blue sky and the sun’s brilliance dazzling from millions of ice crystals in the fresh skiff of snow, I felt crushed by life’s burdens as I trudged alone along Rabbit Lane.  The burdens of being a husband and provider and father to seven children.  The burdens of being legal counsel to a busy, growing city.  The burdens of maintaining a home, of participating in my church, and of being scoutmaster to a local boy scout troop.  The burdens of being human.  While the sky above me opened wide to space, these responsibilities bore down heavily upon my heart.  They seemed to darken my very sky. Continue reading