The adventure of our lives brims over with great fluctuations and contrasts and sometimes everything happens at once. As I'm in the midst of wedding planning, it seems that every day is also freshly and visibly bringing my great-grandma closer to the hour when she will stand face-to-face with her Lord in the heavenly spaces.
And the thought of that glory is enough to take my breath.
At 103, my great-grandma has been gifted with an incredibly full and amazing life. An artist, adventurer, world traveler, music and history lover, and a voracious reader, she's an amazing woman, her memory filled with marvelous stories. I wrote the following short poem for her a few years ago. Including it here seems fitting:
A bright mind and a long life--God has given--
And a deft hand--catching vignettes
Of the cosmic strokes of the Master.
A spinning wheel--done motionless.
Barns--sleepy and still; brown, orange, and red--
Green in a foreground tree.
A little girl, bright-haired under scarlet flowers.
The little girl again--in an orchid hat.
A small boy--red with delicious sauce.
Dashes of light, captured in color,
Vignettes--small corners on the great canvas.
A long life, a bright mind, and a deft hand--
Has the Master given.
My second contribution comes from Dante's Divine Comedy. I first ran across it in one of my favorite essays in The Christian Imagination edited by Leland Ryken and I promptly read it so many times I memorized it. It inspired me to read the entire Comedy, which I'm now so glad I did! I don't agree with all the doctrines and positions in the Comedy, but (allowing for some literary license) it's deep and brilliant and justly deserves its masterpiece status. This passage is absolutely thrilling and always convicting. I'm including the short intro from the essay by Janine Langan:
"The Divine Comedy records the imaginative reeducation of a very great Christian poet, Dante, by a very great pagan poet, Virgil. Virgil's first lesson is a blunt one (Inferno ii, 43-49):
"If I have understood what you have said"
Replied the shade of that great-hearted one,
"Your soul has been assailed by cowardice,
Which often weighs so heavily on a man--
Distracting him from honorable trial--
As phantoms frighten beasts when shadows fall."
And.... there are so many many other dearly loved poems I'm really at a dreadful loss what to highlight for my third, hence I'll leave you with one of my best loved, Tip Top Favorites Of All Time:
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken.
The crownless again shall be king."
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring