You Are The Border

You are the border
the invisible, dividing line:
The Comedy Show that makes a little girl laugh
—”quick, shove the food in!”—and eat,
you dance for me before you can reason about
starving third-world kids and immigrant dreams;
The Watermelon Drummer, the fruit’s final judge,
unlocking it’s mystery through your tapping fingers
you do your magic trick, and we crack open
the reddest sweet flesh behind a shell of green.

You are the border
between lunacy and sanity:
The Unlicensed Therapist, raised on a diet of
communism, logic, and serendipity
but you do quite well—for others, and for me
You are the peacemaker in our fights, and sometimes,
even the ones in my own mind.

You are the border
an unbroken wall and shield:
The Guardian who saves me from howling dinosaurs,
enormous spiders, and my own poor schemes;
but when the time comes, like summer fruit ripened,
you give me wings to rise
And though I’ve left the nest for a wild world
with no crib railings or safety nets
I know I am safe with you in a love that never leaves
and it’s more than just your culture, blood, and duty
that promises to stay with me,
come
hell
or
high water
Your love is not, like a young man’s romance, some flighty dream
Your love is tested by fire,
You love is no fragile thing.

Twenty-Seven

mehmet-kursat-deger-1BoEP5teHeA-unsplash

When another year peels away,
like a husk of corn,
I break and bleed:
shedding youth is shedding dreams
some die quietly, but others go out with
a knife fight.
I revel and rejoice:
age wrinkles the heart first,
in a slow suicide of naivete,
pressing in the sorrow and sweetness,
like a double-edged sword
carving into me more longing and life
forming in me the image of Christ.

I have never felt the invincibility
of the young
but fragility is a familiar friend:
a sailboat spinning in the storm,
a bruised reed beaten by the winds,
an unspoken fear of dead ends.
Sometimes, the hammer has to fall
on my castles in the sand
these flimsy fortresses
that I might know, in every season,
the only Rock that stands.

Mark my days with delight and desire
for the one true God
If all else fades
fails
forsakes
and the darkness does not lift
make my smoldering wick
a brilliant flame
that testifies to His goodness
and the glory of His Name.

 

Photo by Mehmet Kürşat Değer on Unsplash

Ratljóst

IcelandPic

I keep imagining the raw truths I’ll tell you
as our Suzuki burns through sunlit mountain roads
where the gravel path snakes to the horizon,
and ours is the only engine humming
in the wild world that spills out around us.
I think I’ll unbury my soul
with a shovel or words or pickax—whatever works
—and make sense of life in 2019
inside our dusty silver SUV, crammed
with suitcases and instant ramen and
people who share my blood and genes.
Maybe I’ll tell you about the trials:
how I’ve cried and rejoiced and felt
the brokenness, the beauty of life
and quietly hoped this escape would harden me,
like the bold hills of Vestrahorn, against my fragility.
Or about Christ:
my Savior God who keeps me
and in my weakness, I know His faithfulness
and all these days will melt away
along with the glacier pillars of Jökulsárlón
but His Kingdom alone will endure
so repent, believe, stop chasing wind.

In the end, I said much less than all of that
but found there’s more than one kind of intimacy,
like the ways we make peace with silence
and loud snores,
pass around a dwindling bag of apples and chips,
pee in a freezing, forsaken snow field,
and push / pull each other up the mountains.
I know there are stories hidden inside all of us,
scars that carved deep caves, like lava chambers,
some still burning,
some covered with bitter ash.
God, we are so human—
and it’s here I find softness and strength:
that the shadows have not won,
that we are marveling at creation, gulping arctic air,
far from home but home with each other,
chasing away our unspoken ghosts with laughter,
in this land of ice and myths and fire.

Then I know
—when I’m stuck down on all fours,
my foot on the edge of a cliff,
but I’m cackling at your jokes—
that some of the scars
are sealing up inside.

 

Ratljóst (n.) – an old Icelandic word that means ‘enough light to find your way by’

Unveiled

jordan-wozniak-256456-unsplash

You are the One from all eternity
who joined the fabric of stars and seas,
rolled out the carpet of galaxies
yet all the brilliance of the newborn universe
is but one flicker of Your majesty

Still the height of Your design
was in humble, glorious, image-bearing man
though You knew he’d come to lead a rebel band
Your curse would slash through skies and land
Our eyes are dimmed and hearts are stone,
so a glimpse of holiness made the prophet know
before the Throne, we’re undone and damned

But like a knife that opens the mother’s womb
You cut through time and God was born
in Bethlehem, with no cradle or room
You taught repentance and a kingdom coming soon
but the way is through the cross and tomb

Come behold the Lord of law and grace
Veiled in flesh, the Son unveiled the Father’s face
the God who judges is the One who saves
You will strip the darkness in an unbroken blaze
and resurrection glory will ignite that day

 

“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” Isaiah 46:9-10

 

Photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash

Lonely Sparrow

somin-khanna-14449-unsplash

Lonely sparrow
chiseled by a hard knife, like the one that split Job’s world
at
    the
        seams
and cut ridges of holiness on a broken cistern,
where glory poured in.
I see you, alone in the crowd,
melting into the shadow
your mouth smiles: a fragile pencil line
but your eyes say
how long, o Lord?
as you melt into the shadows, retreating
from sideways looks and rote theology
into your shell, with a rabble of ghosts.
Joy wrung dry, like an ironed sponge,
loosens your grip on this earth, a dim orb,
slippery between your fingers
ready for release.
Suffering has burned the blinders,
the dross from your eyes, so you see
more brightly,
the jasper walls and golden city
the King in His unveiled glory.

You have a bittersweet blessing.

Your frail shoulders bruise beneath these burdens
and I oft lack words and wisdom and divine lovingkindess
but there is enough for you
in our God enfleshed,
who blistered His feet on the hot sand of Samaria
and made His dwelling with us,
a tabernacle inside our unholy ruins.
Lonely sparrow
not one falls that He does not know,
He numbers the hairs of your head,
So take heart
He has overcome the world.

Photo by Somin Khanna on Unsplash

The First Coming

lukas-budimaier-49074-unsplash

The kingdom broke into quiet towns

—Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee—

with Sabbath scandals and silenced demons

The Uncreated One slipped into

time through a virgin womb,

soiled his feet on earth-beyond-Eden:

the garden poisoned by the serpent

dipped in thorns, decay, crooked hearts

He came,

not in the image of man-made idols

but in the shape of Scripture:

suffering servant, man of sorrows,

acquainted with grief

He came,

among a people with priests and temple

but far from God.

The kingdom broke into sinful souls

outside the holy city, on Passover,

when the shadow descended

the blood of the last Lamb fell on Golgotha,

swept over the doorposts of repentant hearts

—“It is finished”—

and death will pass away like a dream

Pilgrims

kc-luk-188412

In the breath between birth and dust
we bare our messy souls
through fumbling words
wrestling with limits—of language and finitude

And yet
an unearthly power rings
in our thin, trembling throats
These silent walls listen, with the angels,
as we kneel, scraped knees and bruised hearts
before the Alpha and Omega,
our Abba Father, who hears our speech
and our silence
Because He once carved an awful mercy
into Roman wood and the blood of God
so we might come near

Pilgrims,
gathered together in winter’s cold
a reprieve from a world drenched in mockery,
we whisper the names of friends
and enemies, of frailties and fears,
of sorrow and joy and sehnsucht—
our naked hearts find a voice before the throne
On a canvas of black space and burning stars,
we find a cradle of eternal warmth

 

Photo by KC Luk on Unsplash

Haunted By Eden

we live in a world haunted by Eden:
half is ruled by logic
0s and 1s harnessed to make machines
binary codes flicker into modern idols
hooking the mechanical bloodstream to ours
like an IV drip
half is given to wonder
a man can explain his own reality
or call it all illusion
1+1=2 in academic truth but judge not
what a man calls his god

are we algorithms, brushing against each other?
accidental programs of A, G, C, and Ts
we live in a world haunted by Eden:
in ceaseless striving for purpose
yet drowning in self-addiction
a worshipper’s soul chafes against the lies
that cells and galaxies exploded
from an empty inkwell
and the ache for meaning is
a chemical misfire

is it love or mathematics?

functions never parameterized heartbreak
or taught a man to die for another.