And Yet…

And Yet…

When faced with a true master,
My words fall flat as stone;
No great deeds they accomplish,
No great sins they atone.

And yet a simple glimpse of truth
Is all a dark place needs
To show the walls are crumbling,
To plant some healthy seeds

That sprout and grow so strong they change
The world in ways profound;
Such as when a shepherd shod
His shoes on holy ground.

So take that little step with me
To truthfulness and light;
Who knows where that tight path will lead,
What otherworldly sight

Will greet us on the noble way
To love beyond our ken,
Where treasured souls we thought were lost
Shall reunite again?

There He who wipes our tears will smile
With arms thrown open wide,
Show us to our special place,
And welcome us with pride.

Eternal Perspective

When the universe was filled with light and time itself began
The Lord of All already had in mind his wondrous plan,
Knowing we would fail Him and wreck the world with sin,
He went ahead and made a way to welcome us back in,

Through His painful sacrifice to take what we deserve,
And lead us by example to be humble and to serve,
To live a life that’s worthy of the light he calls us to,
That he will fill with strength enough to always get us through

The trials, tears, and obstacles the world will send our way,
To struggle on with hope that guides us when we fall and stray,
Knowing there are times when we must simply cling and pray
To His faithful promise that will come with break of day.

He knows our past, our future, and with His eternal eyes
Still sees us as worth the effort, to Him we’re still a prize
That He treasures more than all the heartache and the pain
We cause Him with the bitterness, spite and pure disdain

We show Him in our daily lives and petty selfish goals,
Chasing after vanities, forsaking our true roles,
Choosing fleeting pleasures instead of heaven’s treasures;
Despite all this, eternal bliss still calls upon our souls.

So turn your face and aim your heart towards the highest good,
Tread the narrow steps upon which nobler feet have stood;
Turn away from greed, help those around in need,
Then you’ll give the world a taste of heaven’s brotherhood.

Fathers That Know the Father

This is another commissioned work, this time in connection with the Art and Craft of Writing Kickstarter, where for $50, the supporter would obtain access to every instructional video we produce (which we are making steady progress on), plus receive a poem by me to honour a special occasion and/or person in your life. This request was actually made outside the kickstarter channel by contacting L. Jagi Lamplighter directly, so I assume that this option is in theory still available today. The poem includes numerous inside jokes, personal memories and details of family history provided by the client, a wife and mother wishing to honour her aging father (and from what she told me about him, he is more than worthy of such a gift), hence some of the curious asides and word choices. I hope that general readers will still find it enjoyable and uplifting.

Fathers That Know the Father

Fathers that know the Father are such a special breed,
Though success in their endeavours is far from guaranteed;
They are not granted super strength, immunity from harm,
Super speed, astounding wealth or overpowering charm;

What they do receive instead is far more precious still,
A spirit touched with grace and a calling to instil
A love of God and truth and life in his children’s souls,
That they may lift their heads to aim for high and worthy goals.

Even in his absence, his influence is strong,
His loved ones know they always have a home where they belong,
Where they are known and cared for, and greeted with a smile,
Hoping that that their current stay can stretch a little while.

Far from our shores, you harnessed mighty atoms in the deep,
Ensuring that ten million children could stay safe asleep.
The sacrifices that you made leave echoes in their wake,
Clearing noble paths for other, younger feet to take.

Discipline unasked for and even fought outright
Is now appreciated in a wholly different light.
Prayers and verses planted in a mind when it is young
Grow into fruitful wisdom that flows in its own tongue.

Standing at attention while my tidying was checked
Has led to strong self-discipline and stronger self-respect.
You drilled me to work hard, in all things seek to learn and grow,
Aim for excellence, but never bask in my own glow.

A leader and great teacher in every port you called
You had so many ways to keep your students all enthralled
As you passed on knowledge that was more than just a hunch,
Such as the laws of thermo forbidding a free lunch.

I wish I’d been less stubborn and took the time to hear
The wonders of the universe that you so loved to share;
When you said your expectations of me were too high it hurt
When you took it back and were proud of me I thought my heart would burst.

A sweeping gift you gave me on the 8th year since my birth,
And we took turns adventuring all over Middle Earth.
So many books we’d share with joy, I even got some signed;
You always were so loving, so insightful and so kind.

A fluffball called Salami nuzzled past your stubborn gates,
Moved you in a way your heart could not anticipate;
And so when perched upon your leg in good old Morro Bay
He became the furry lord of all that he surveyed.

Our stomachs stuffed with tacos, we’d waddle up the hill,
Half-regretting extra bites when we had had our fill,
Back home to talk, to laugh, to revel in our family life;
Moments I still treasure now as a mother and a wife.

Black Mountain’s view enchanted us each time we scaled its slope,
Guests were met with signal flags along the yard arm rope,
Grandparents teaching step-ball back at 512 South Clay,
A family determined to all walk the narrow way.

Your love of God infectious, your love of us so clear,
Each time you wrote us letters it would fill our hearts with cheer.
No one on this earth could ever hope to fill your shoes
No one we would rather join us on a fun-filled cruise.

Because of you, our families walk and prosper in the light,
Gleaming like Alaskan gems of purest tanzanite.
Whether it is of the Apes or of the Caribbean,
All of us are certain you are worthy of this paean.

You showed us what a father is, what we should aim to be,
Reflected glints of glory that shine eternally,
Helped us in our crises, gave us strength to cope,
And led us to the One who is our everlasting hope.

You taught us to be humble, to never put on airs,
And of course, most importantly, to not forget our prayers.
For this and more we’re grateful, in more ways than you know;
So in this and other ways, we’d like to let it show.

Discussing Bohemian Advent on Zaklog the Great’s book club

I made my third appearance on Zaklog the Great’s book club to discuss the Bohemian Advent series. If you were wondering about its different levels of meaning and biblical/historical references, then you’re in for a treat (for my Czech readers, my apologies for my stumbling over the Czech recitation, it’s usually someone else that reads the Czech translation at my church):

When the Light Came Down

A few years ago, I was approached to convert two different stories of Christmas miracles into singable lyrics to be put to music as part of a Christmas album. I composed and sent off the lyrics, but heard no more about efforts to produce the music and record them since then. I’ll share those lyrics with you now, and perhaps one Christmas in the near future their uplifting harmonies will bring joy and hope to an audience.

It is so long ago that I can’t remember the melody I had in mind for this first one, which concerns a secret meeting of Christians in the darkest depths of Soviet Russia. I will share the other one next week, if I can work out a way to format text into two columns in a blog post.

When the Light Came Down

In a land of cruel repression
And an atmosphere of dread,
The threat of disappearance
Hangs over every head.

The Cheka took the clergy
Who failed to hide themselves;
The gulag’s thirst is never quenched
For bloodshed in its cells.

In a barn out in the country
The faithful dare to meet
To celebrate the Nativity,
That great day in history

When the Light came down
To redeem the earth;
The Word made flesh
Through a pauper’s birth.

The pastor sees a boy he knew
And baptized long ago,
Now grown into a strong young man
Trudging through the snow.

The pastor’s smile is tempered
By a dark but nagging thought;
“Where has he been all of these years,
What battles has he fought?

“Is he lost, in need of saving,
Or an agent of the state,
Here to observe, inform on us
And seal our awful fates?”

But the Light came down,
Leaving heavenly bliss,
To be sacrificed
For such a wretch as this.

His mind made up, the pastor calls
For quiet, then he reads
The words of the old liturgy
That address their deepest needs:

For peace on earth, goodwill to men
And glory upon high
To God who is owed all our praise,
And all things beautifies.

When the pleas move on to ask
For blessings on the nation,
A look upon the young man’s face
Betrays his consternation.

For the Light came down
And showed the world its sin;
Men preferred the dark
To being changed within.

All there commend their lives to Christ
With confident conviction
Alone the young man holds his tongue,
Won’t mouth the benediction.

Sins are confessed, repented of,
Forgiveness is proclaimed.
God’s Mercy is extolled and
Calls to holiness are made.

The Eucharist draws nearer,
God’s purity declared;
His Holy Spirit invited into
All those thus prepared.

Then a Light shone down,
Into that dusty place;
An instinctive fear
Flooded every face.

Could that light be the Cheka,
Arriving to arrest
The faithful for their brazenness,
And thought crimes unconfessed?

No, it’s something more profound,
This old barn is now holy ground,
Each heart is filled with joy and peace,
Each guilty conscience finds release.

The young man stumbles forward,
Pleading for his soul,
The great light struck him blind and he
Now longs to be whole.

For the Light came down
To heal our ills;
Not for fortune, fame,
Or a thousand hills.

“I was here at the state’s behest
To report on faith expressed
In anything but the Soviet
And failure to quail at their threats.

“Forgive me, for I have betrayed
All for which you worked and prayed;
I believed their vicious lies
About you and all they despise.”

The old men gather round and pray
For the scales to fall away
From the eyes of his heart and head
To revive what once was dead.

For the Light came down,
Offering new birth,
To flee the snares of sin
And live a life of worth.

Silver Sunday/Stříbrná neděle

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, here is Zaklog the Great performing today’s poem:

And here is the English followed by the Czech version:

 


Silver Sunday

Bags of silver coins change hands
For human lives from distant lands:
Some caught in war, some caught at crime,
Some could not pay their debts in time.

With chains on their bruised feet and hands,
Worth thirty silver to a man;
Some foolishly still dare to dream
That they could one day be redeemed.

But soon That Day will come.


Stříbrná neděle

Za mince stříbrné ve váčku z kůže,
ten, kdo chce, člověka koupit si může.
Válka či zločin, stihly je lapit,
některé neschopnost dluhy včas splatit.

Ruce I kotníky sedřené pouty,
kus můžeš za třicet stříbrných koupit.
Někteří snívají bláznivé snění,
že přijde den vykoupení.

Však brzy již vzejde ten den.

Bronze Sunday/Bronzová neděle

Today is the second Sunday of Advent, here is Bronze Sunday performed by Zaklog the Great

below is the English and Czech version

Bronze Sunday

Bronze shields and spears arranged in ranks
To form the fearsome Greek phalanx
Conquered nations far and wide;
Now there’s a new source of Greek pride:

Bold theories and insightful thoughts
That they debate in marble courts.
“Whose wisdom can outshine our own
Or that of our great pantheon?”

Twixt oracles and temples grand
In Athens a small altar stands
Placed there as a reverent nod
To an as yet unknown god.

But soon That Day will come.


Bronzová neděle

Bronzové štíty a v zákrytu kopí
falangy Řeků když moci se chopí.
Kdo může odolat moci a síle,
přichází Řekové a jejich chvíle.

Nádvoří dlážděné mramorem skvělým
debatám naslouchá, myšlenkám smělým.
“Před naší moudrostí každý se sklání,
vznešený pantheon – bez srovnání!”

V zajetí chrámů, kde lid bohy vzývá,
v Aténách oltář prostý se skrývá
Prostý a vážný uprostřed všeho
k uctění boha neznámého.

Však brzy již vzejde ten den.