Saturday, June 28, 2008

I took a walk in the world today

Last weekend my mom sent me a manilla envelope, via my brother. I recognized it instantly--a poem I wrote over 31 years ago. About a month after I wrote it, on New Year's Day, 1978, I read it aloud at my parents' church, when my sister and I were asked to speak on the topic of "Our Numbered Days." Later the church printed the poem in their newsletter--so I suppose it's my first published work. When I first read it again after 30 years, I was amazed it's as good as it is (I can critique myself from this distance, can't I?) so thought I'd copy it here, and try--try hard--not to revise it from the original. I'm tempted to add the caveat that I'm not really a poet, but maybe you can decide for yourself...

Eugene, Oregon
December 1977

I took a walk in the world today, Lord
The world of sights, sounds and smells
I saw children climb into a bus
and took a moment to smile.
I tried to climb a tree a bit too tall
And got mud on my pants in the effort.
I looked at the cars racing on a busy street
And wondered where the people were going.
I smelled Christmas in the evergreens
And caught autumn in the deadened leaves.

Lately I've been wrapped up in me.
I've looked at the unopened pile of books
And frowned my smiles into worries
I've been caught up in the academic part
of the world to the point that
I forgot that You created life out there.

My words have become meaningless chatter,
redundant utterings of foolishness
My relationship with You and others
has been a copy of what should be
instead of a masterpiece of You in me.
I talk, laugh, even pray, Jesus, but
the focus has been on my time, not Yours.

So I took a walk in the world today
and remembered why I'm here.
I took time for...
Children who aren't afraid to show emotions,
Who say what comes to mind,
Who clap and dance in wonderment
and greet strangers gladly.
They teach me again of life in You,
no inhibitions, no facades of joy,
just honest feelings.

I took time for...
Trees--with squirrels scurrying to gather food.
Sometimes I'm a squirrel, only worrying about
food and survival.
Trees that smell of holidays and make me
think of festive times ahead and behind.
Trees that don't struggle to grow, but sway and
bend as You make them hardy.
They teach me of life rooted in You, growing
stronger, taller, closer to You.

I took time for...
People. People who may not
know you, and certainly don't know me but
are still considered precious in your eyes.
People to love, to cherish, to hope for.
People racing forward, backward, running out of time.
People who need to slow down for a moment
and take a walk in the world. Just as I did.

I took a walk in the world today, Lord
Your world -- and You gave me again
the gift of Life.
Now I can look at my books,
study for my tests,
And know what my priorities are.
People, nature, but mostly You.
You, Lord, alive in me,
Because I am alive in You!

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