"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Offering Up the Whole

Years ago - the 1970's, I believe -  there was a poet named Rod McKuen. He was a "modern-day" poet.  A bit of the "60's revolution, by all counts. I read his stuff at the time. I can't say I liked all of it, but I liked poetry, and back then, he was "trending" as they would say today. They didn't use that term, however. He was a bit cynical and a tad depressing, and if I remember correctly - a whole lot "distrusting". He was surely a part of the counter culture that was occurring at that time.  I don't even know if he is still alive today. I guess I could check that out easily enough, and maybe I will at some point.

I hate to admit it, but lately, one of his poems keeps coming back to me invading my thoughts and trying to stir up agitation or something similar; not even sure what. It isn't the whole poem I remember, but rather only a line or two. I decided to try to see if I could find the poem. The line was almost haunting me.  I found it is from his poem called The Leaving. And I do NOT recommend it. It's depressing, cynical, and I suppose full of distrust. (see above) But I will say this, there is much of the poem that will cause one to think; to really think about what the author is saying and then ponder ones agreement or disagreement. For example:

I do not dangle
at the dawning
on a strand of sunlight,
nor do I perch on
paragraphs of prayers.

Beautiful alliteration, which was popular at the time. But what in the world does that mean? I do not want to perch on the paragraphs of prayers. I want to shelter under His wing.

All men have lessons
they can give you
even in rejection.
And the least that you can offer any man
is your good arm or shoulder.

Agreed. And I would even say "especially in rejection" there are lessons to learn. But that good arm or shoulder is rather rare in either case. Moreover, prayers would be better in accompaniment with that good shoulder.

The small times count.
The inches not the miles.
Touches not tradition
will fill your memory
in the morning or the end.

Oh I don't know about that. Truly, it is the small times that count...and maybe it is the inches over the miles. I really don't know. The inch is sometimes the only thing that gets us where we are going. But in the end we only count the miles.  Touches over tradition? I don't know about that either. Touches are most often remembered because of tradition.

The older one gets, everything all kind of just gets muddled together, and repetition is what helps in remembering. Traditions are extremely important, in my view.

There is something to be said about a kind, gentle touch, however. It is actually rather rare.

But the line that keeps coming back to me of late (probably because I had to do a high school or college paper on it at the time) is this one:

There will be
times when many
will want pieces of you
but only offer up the whole.

Side note before I continue: I do understand why a college or high school literature class might use this author. He was, after all, "trending". And unfortunately, his views were the way our schools were going at the time. Secular. Counter-culture. He was a good poet. He was creative and his poems induced thought. He used all the proper (and some improper) methods from which to teach a literature class. Whatever. At least one line of the poem certainly stuck with me for all these decades.

"Only offer up the whole." "Many will want pieces of you." This denotes being used, doesn't it? Or maybe just being put up with, but never really accepted. Picked apart, piece by piece.

When one says, "I like this about you, but I will certainly not be a part of that." that is ok. We will never agree with anyone 100% on anything. Everyone has things that need to be worked out, or worked through. We should never support someone in their wrong doing. But do we walk away with our nose in the air, or even worse with a clothes pin on our nose because of the perceived (or even real) stench? Do we even bother to find the truth?

So why is this line going through my mind over and over these days? I don't know. Do I feel used? No, I don't. Do I feel disliked? Often, I do. Do I feel ridiculed and unfairly maligned? Sometimes. Do I feel accepted? Rarely. Now before you think me despondent, or depressed, the Bible warns us that we won't be accepted. We are aliens in a strange land. So whether I am accepted or not, doesn't really bother me. It does make me wonder however, when I am made to feel that way by other Christians. Or even more, when I see a brother or sister in Christ treated unfairly by those who are supposed to be "family".

What I do know, is more and more often, I only feel like "offering up the whole". What would Jesus say about that? I am not talking about the whole of what we once were, but offering up everything God has intended for us to become. Offering up exactly what He would have us do in our lives (according to His will) - whether anyone else agrees or not.

In this context, we can read Scripture and get a pretty good idea of what is expected of us. But then, in the end, we would probably only argue about it. (Now, I am the one sounding cynical...maybe just a tad.)

What we know in reality, though, is Jesus offered up the Whole. That is something worth emulating. Piece by piece, He offered it all.

Personally, that is what I believe this poet was searching...we would do well to help others find that not only in their unbelief, but also in their ever-growing belief and trust they, themselves, know who God has created them to be and inspired them to do what they are to do.

So bring on the criticism; I will learn from the rejection. In the end, I suppose I will count both the miles and the inches. I have learned not to expect that "good arm or shoulder".  And I will take the poet's advice on at least one count; I am only offering up the whole.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This Ain't About Fishin'

I needed a little escape to real life this morning. I'm glad I came across this video. Keeping it with my collection of favorite songs. One of my favorites from Trace Adkins.