Gifts with Wings and Lasting Things

As is our custom, Phin and I were feeding the ducks one day at nearby lake. It was picturesque. An overjoyed toddler, a doting mother, a beautiful, clear morning.  Suddenly, the sweet scene was pierced with the shouts and cursing of a homeless man. A much-needed reminder that this world, as rich as it can be at times, is not our home.

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Christmas morning in our home. A fire blazing, a warm cup of coffee, three healthy kiddos digging through their stockings. Yet another moment when I was tempted to nestle down into this life and get cozy.  Until I received two different texts from two very dear friends who were both, who are both, in the midst of deeply painful seasons. Another sharp reminder that we live in the already and not yet.

God has inaugurated His kingdom, His rule and reign on our sphere, by His life, death, and resurrection. Already. And yet, we still battle with injustice, are beset with sins within and without, and live with tangible, felt suffering all around us. Not yet.

I am profoundly thankful that God will not let me settle down here on this earth as it is, as tempted as I often am to do so. I am thankful that He stirs up my nest or allows my nest to be disturbed, that the mixed bag of life on this earth, with its moments of striking beauty and its sobering moments of shocking pain, lift my eyes to a better home.

Poems are like open secrets. When I read one that I love, I memorize it and hoard it, as if it were written with just me in mind.  I treasure it up until I realize that while poetry and the written word are profoundly personal, they are not private. They are open, meant to touch others in the same way that they touched me. Open secrets.

J. Oswald Sanders says that “The books and people who help us most are not those who teach us, but those who can express for us what we feel inarticulate about.” Anne Proctor’s poem Thankfulness does this for me. I wanted to share part of it as an open secret.

I thank thee more that all our joy is touched with pain;

that shadows fall on brightest hours; that thorns remain;

so that earth’s bliss may be our guide and not our chain.

For thou who knowest, Lord, how soon our weak heart clings,

hast even us joys, tender and true, yet all with wings,

so that we see, gleaming on high, diviner things!

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