The dark and gloom of our lives and point to higher things.
They ruminate and always cut through the dull thoughts about traffic, quizzes, the weather, the next door envies to try to do better, family feuds and work trouble and trying to keep your head above water…
‘God works in mysterious ways’ is a common saying. And don’t I know it!
Earlier this year, I was asked to have a go at writing a poem about the plight of Nigerian widows. This totally baffled me as I’d never even been to the country and knew very little about it.
Having researched and also read a number of women’s stories, I attempted to fulfill that ask. The following poem is the result.
The incredible thing is that God has just brought me back from a visit to that beautiful, hurting country and I was able to share my poem with Jocelyn (below left with Sasa) who runs a ministry with 43 of the country’s many widows.
She and her team do an amazing work, creating beautiful colourful pieces in a community of love and acceptance. Many of these women have been widowed due to the ongoing conflicts within the country and this poem attempts to reflects their pain.
To me they are as Christ. They have suffered and have been broken..the breaking bread. Yet his brokenness was to bring them healing and restoration.
“… that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,
“Take, eat; this is My body which isbroken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” ” (1 Cor. 11:24)
The Breaking Bread:
My little one cries, amidst the mob of runaways.
We have left everything behind in a bid to save the most precious things.
Yet we have lost
Such great cost
to escape the enemy’s wrath.
They come with fire and holler obscenities
They throw a flame, a light, a punch, a name
They shoot with arrows, with guns
They make us fear, they make us run.
They took our confidence, our home, our joy
They took our girls, they took our boys.
They took my husband. I saw him fall
Right in front of our kitchen wall.
They took him away yet left him there
They took him away with tasteless air.
They are not alone in their abandonment,
Others have joined in what it has meant
To be rejected
His family too have turned their backs
They want the house, but not my lack.
They want to benefit but not to meet the need that’s left…
There have been many poems written about the Great World War and subsequent wars. Many, such as Wilfred Owen, spoke of real men and women with flesh and blood. He was one of the main reasons I became a poet – I wanted to write of reality (even grim reality) in a way that spoke compassionately.
In writing this poem, I couldn’t help but feel like… Why are we still making the same mistakes? Why are governments in various lands making choices that bring immense suffering to their people? Why are there millions living and dying for the chance to live in peace?
Christians have been given a ministry of reconciliation.
Just in time for the end of National Poetry Day! (Thanks for the reminder, Andrew!)
OK, so I do want to make it very clear …
I am ABSOLUTELY against deforestation!
But this poem is just a picture to help me understand what Jesus has done for me… A picture of the soul.
This was written at my week away in Wales at The National Writing Centre there. A great week, with great people and great food!
Felling the forest
This is a strange thing yet in some way, like a thin thread, it points me to You.
We are all here to write and it seems we are grappling at straws
to find answers to the laws
of our nature.
We do not want to see our flaws
or maybe we see them all too well and want to fell them
like a tree
in a distant forest.
The problem is that very thing-
it is a forest of trees,
a forest of flaws
that seem to rise up again and again. Outsmarting us and reaching up so they can grow deep.
What can be done?
I could do the hard graft again and again I’d find another tree to make a mess or I could let them grow… To grow so high and deep that the light itself is blocked out.
The soil gives way and the trees are stirred and gradually they fall with a word.
A garden begins to appear.
Not a sound has come from my mouth but rather it is the utterance of the One who speaks and
It is so.
So for a while there I thought I wouldn’t get there but the packing has all happened and moving day has been and gone! The boxes reminded me of this poem from 2011 when I travelled to Tanzania for 2 years…
Suitcase, books, clothes, shoes
Check to see what needs removed.
Boxes, tape, labelled… ‘Fear!’
This is no small job
There’s a load to work through here!
Stacks, piles, heaps even
Hills of stuff that should have been dumped
Mounds, towers, shaking – unsteady!
This is a mammoth job and I’m not sure I’m ready!
I’m just me- small and faint
Not able on my own to pack away all my past and then paint right over it.