Day 25 – Poetry for Lent

Tolkien & Lewis

I am currently reading A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 by Joseph Loconte. The book goes into the effects of the war on the political and religious landscape of the West. It delves into how Tolkien’s and Lewis’s experiences in the trenches inspired and played into the imaginary worlds they are so known for as writers.

I was thinking about the book when I went out in the hot tub with my daughter. The sky was clear and the stars were incredible. It all seemed so serene despite the horrors of battle still playing out in my head. This poem stems from that.

The Great War marches in
and battle fills the air
with the cries of the wounded
the pleas and prayers of the dying.
Explosions jar bones
loosen teeth
the throaty roars of heavy artillery
drowning out the staccato 
rattle of small arms.

Above it all
the stars shine
pin-pricks in black velvet
allowing a glimpse
of the beautiful light
high beyond this present darkness.

Caught by the machines of war
new realms form
and faith is forged.

Day 2 – Poetry for Lent

This poem was actually started some time ago. We’d had a sermon or two on Daniel and his friends, and I had jotted a few lines at the time wondering (like I do with most survival stories) whether I would have been able to do what they did. Would I –say in a school shooting situation–be able to stand up for what I believed if it meant death? Of course, whenever I think this, I quickly throw in a “Please God, let me never have to find out.”

But there are all those little moments–standing up to bullies, racists, haters of any sort–or even harder, those who profess to believe the same things I do. Sure, maybe it only involves anger, social disgrace, ostracism–but do I stand up? Small things build, so where do I draw the line? What do I stand for?

Would I, Could I, Should I?

Would I stand up 
when all else bowed
legs strong, backbone straight
furnace flames licking heels and thighs?
And when challenged on that upright pose
would I collapse
knees buckling like
a mighty oak
felled with nothing but an axe?

Could I kneel down
when law denied
bow my head and pray to God
while lions roared in nearby den?
Or would I hide my godly pose,
afraid discovery's fangs 
might rip and shred
my heart and soul
until I'm nothing, almost dead?

I confess,
I hope I never know.

But should I encounter
no furnace flames or lions' den
but merely tests within, without
and trials in my daily way
Remind me then, oh Holy One
to whom I owe my everything
of Daniel and his mighty friends.
Though knees may quake
and fear course wild through my veins
place Your hand on me
and still my mouth
  if that will close the lion's maw,
or help me speak
  to put out hatred's fiercest flame
for I am Yours
  though small and weak.