What Makes the Difference

Marshall and I are studying poetry in our British Literature class this fall.  We have explored the history of different poets and the philosophies that they promoted–primitivism, naturalism, romanticism. In reading their poetry, we see evidence of these worldviews. Wordsworth for example was convinced that individual humans are basically good in nature, and the problem of evil comes to play within society. So if we could just break away from the crowd and get back to nature, we could become our true selves again. He also saw the natural world as praiseworthy and referred to the beauty around him as a force that moved and empowered his soul.  In I wandered lonely as a Cloud–one of his most famous and prettiest poems–he speaks of the beauty of nature as a catharsis for his boredom, and as a blessing that’s impact has changed and improved him. It has been fascinating to study these romantic poems, but also a bit sad. Wordsworth is an example of what Paul describes in Romans, “worshiping the created rather than the creator.” As we read his poem, Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey we noted the many emotions he expressed and how he turned to nature for comfort, for respite, and as a formative presence in himself making him into a better person.  This poem moved me to ask–perhaps the obvious question–what moves me that way? If I think Wordsworth got it wrong, what do I see in my life as comforting, replenishing and formative? And of course I want the answer to be Jesus Christ himself, working his good in and through me. But where do I see that at work in my life? With that question in mind I wrote my own poetic prayer about all the avenues through which I feel the presence and power of God, not as a distant, indistinct force but as a intimate, personal, and transforming Person, making the difference in who I am.

Making Me

I stand upon a windswept hill,
Gazing down the thunderous fall,
I hear your voice in a whisper still,
As the mist wraps me like a shawl.
I venture into rugged mountains,
With winding streams, and valleys deep,
Your presence there is like a fountain,
Upon the meadows and rock-crags steep.
I hear your voice in the ocean’s roar,
In the raging storm I see your hand,
I feel your touch in the rain as it pours,
And sense your power in the lightning strand.

I stand and worship with the crowd,
I feel the music course through my veins,
As we worship your name out loud,
Your blood washing away our stains.
I take the hand of my neighbor,
And we bow our heads to pray,
The rhythm of flute and tabor,
To our bodies and souls gives sway.
I receive the cup and the bread,
And confess my own fragile state,
While my friend prays over my head,
And with me bears the weight,
Of struggles so oft’ fought alone,
Of desires I feign can deny,
Of a life weary straight to the bone,
And patterns I long to defy.
In your house I am filled with you,
In worship I am created afresh,
In your people I find family anew,
And I rise above mere flesh.

I sit at your feet, and pore over your word,
I close my eyes, seeking you in solitude,
The truth of your goodness cannot be blurred,
By the outside world’s magnitude.
And somewhere deep within my soul,
I find you’re making me,
As an oar held tight within the thole,`
A path cleared of the scree,
So the very image you designed,
A product of the Master’s Art,
The very passions of  a sacred kind,
That you put in the inmost parts.
The gift that cannot be revoked,
The promise that is sure,
Will be within my own heart stoked,
And render you glory, sweet and pure.


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