Poem: Icons

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Icons sit on my bookshelf,

Christ, His Mother and St. John,

The golden-tongued preacher,

Mary, Mother of our God.

Their eyes are always watching,

Their faces hold no fear.

Their bodies are unflinching,

Their holiness is here.

I see Christ-likeness in them,

Aspire to understand.

Aspire to know and follow

The Way they steadfast trod.

Christ is present through them

Though I know they are not real.

But real-ness of the holy

Is represented well.

I cannot see it truly,

My heart is yet unformed

But on my bookshelf sitting are

Holy Mary, John, and our Lord.


Icons are an interesting topic to tackle and I’m going to do a proper post on them sometime, however, for now here’s a little background to put Icons into context.

Traditionally, an icon is seen as a depiction of a saint as a true person, someone through whom we can see Christ. It has also been said that icons are ‘windows into heaven’ because they show people as they are supposed to be – filled with the Spirit and following Christ. They are venerated and respected (not worshipped) due to the way in which they show the presence of Christ in human beings and because they remind us how we ought to live. People have them in their homes as a way to remember how they ought to live in Christ as children of God.

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Poem: Morning

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The sun arises o’er the trees,

Frost coats all the ground,

The light is bright and trace of night

Is banish’d by sun-tipped cloud.

A bird sings out upon the wire

A sweet, weepy-willowy sound.

So why does not my poor heart jump?

Why is it weighted down?

Why am I so unable to

Rejoice or sing aloud?

A heart like mine ought not to be

So very out of kind.

I’m used to dawn as time of joy

Not call to sorrow blind.

Seems bright light is night for me

And no change is close at hand.


 

Morning has always been one of my most favourite times of day, especially seeing the sun come up and light slowly brighten the sky. However, part of being depressed is that the things which used to bring joy are denied me. There’s a flatness, an undertone of uncomfortable-ness, which is unsettling and sad. It is in the morning that I do most of my thinking and it was this morning that I finally put words to that feeling in Morning.  I feels unfinished, unsettled and I’m hoping that maybe someday I’ll be able to write the rest of it.

 

 

Poem: Garden of Gethsemane

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Matthew 26:36-46

O Lord, if it be possible, remove this cup from me,

A deep and heavy depression through which I cannot see.

The cup from which I’m drinking is full of bitterness,

Sadness, pain and anger. Father! Heed my distress.

Your will is my endurance, my growth perhaps is pain.

Unless drink I the cup’s contents, sonship I will not gain.

Your will and mine align, O Lord, make it so to be

That I might truly be a son and join eternity.

Like Christ in garden dark that night

I plead with you for me,

And then accept what’s truly right

and what I ought to be.

Poem: My Cross

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My day may have been pleasant, an easy burden to bear,

Until an evening darkness brings shadows everywhere.

My cross descends to crush me; I cannot stir and rise.

My cross down heavily drags me, and sadness clouds my eyes.

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I yearn to wrest the cross into the fire,

See it burn and leave it far behind.

Rest easily at sunset; rise at dawn.

I try and strive to put it down,

Leave it, my life and time to own.

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Take I cross again and heavily it goes,

But unknown hands help heave and it is up!

My new cross is borne by other hands than mine,

One who daily bears the burden, drinks the cup

Of suffering He knows well, still chooses wine.

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I yearned to throw my cross to fire,

‘Stead took it up, look’d not behind.

Might not rest at sunset; rise at dawn.

But for His sake ne’er put it down,

Leave Me, Him life and time to own.

 

Poem: At The End Of A Weary Day

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Weary I have closed the day,

Seen the sun both rise and set.

Lord, I pray tomorrow may,

Be begun and done with less regret.

I blame myself for plans awry

And things which done I did not get.

Forgetting that depression I

To be productive will not let.

Oh God! Release me from this day

And more of which I tired get.

A simple day, of sun and sky

Is what I have ‘pon my heart set.

Please You to give me such a day

I know it would these dark clouds stay.

Poem: My Beloved

I loved another, fair and mild,

A joy they were to see.

But impure love is incomplete

And left they me reviled.

Another lover for my love

I thought I’d surely find.

But the belov’d must be of mind

For none have found me as I rove.

Instead a higher yearning filled

Have I by dint of rising to

A plane on which there’s lovers few

And found a wondrous great Beloved.

Remembrance Day

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Today in Canada it is Remembrance Day, the day of poppies, services, hymns for the fallen and tributes to those who serve their country. It is solemn, but often thankful and proud as people think about those who went to war and died.

However, I have a problem with this way of thinking about things to do with Remembrance Day, the very black and white way we seem think about those who serve and those who died abroad. Often a soldier, sailor or airman is regarded as lucky because they came back alive, when in reality, sometimes they brought Hell back with them and would rather be dead.

In all my years of observing the Canadian Forces as a military child, who has gotten to see deployments and service to the country from the inside, I cannot remember ever there being a discussion about PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or Operational Stress Injuries associated with Remembrance Day. As someone who lived through a member’s OSI, it always saddened me that it was never mentioned in prayers at the Cenotaph or referred to in speeches or songs.

When people talk about those who went to war and didn’t come back I want to shout, “Yes, like my dad!!!”, even though he still lives a few miles from a navy base on Vancouver Island, but it seems taboo somehow to bring that up. The inference is that I should be grateful he came back alive. In reality, it would be far easier to grieve over someone who is physically dead rather than grapple with what is truthful: someone emotionally dead who shows up every now and then to twist a knife in my heart and remind me that mental illness runs in families.

The truth about military families is often far from what people imagine. Yes, a husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, someone is serving their country, but it doesn’t mean that their country looks after their mind when they get back or can fix what its war situations did to the people whom they sent there. Counseling and therapy are available, but not every deployed person comes back in a state to use them or even thinks they need them. Strength is admired, not the ability to admit that you are not OK, and there’s a stigma, I think, to breaking down after a trip, as if it were cliche to feel lost when you return to normal life and upset by what you saw while you were away.

As a chaplain’s child, I have had a rare opportunity to hear about both sides of the deployment. I have seen and known the joy of someone returning after nine months away, but I have also experienced and witnessed the hardship and pain that families go through when both sides have been changed by time apart and can’t understand why the serving member doesn’t slot back into life. Often they have a hard time because the strain on the brain of a combat situation teaches it to misfire (I’m simplifying here) and, like with depression, it takes a long time to heal. Sadly, I cannot count the number of people who didn’t make it that far, or who didn’t want to accept the help that could get them on a healthful path and never got better.

So, as we remember the fallen, let’s remember too the returned who have died without dying in a foreign land, as well as those who are still struggling to survive in service of peace and on behalf of the rest of us.


For Dad

You went away one rainy day,

To a country I don’t know.

We missed you all the time, Daddy

But knew you had to go.

You paid the price, you saved the day

And rescued children far away,

But yours were still alone back in

The land you went to battle for.

Waiting for you to return,

Something they’re still waiting for.

Someone came back one rainy day

After you’d been long away

He looked just like you and his name

Was yours, but still he wasn’t quite the same.

And we’re still here and still await

An explanation of your fate.

We are supposed to grin and bear,

But how can we when you aren’t aware

Of how much pain we’re still in

Because our country sent you in.