Tag Archives: Faith

“The Wonderer” (6th Stanza: God)

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Photo: TLClark

William Service wonders at “my Hand … my Eyes … my Heart … my Brain” in the first stanzas of “The Wonderer.”  Then he notes “You’re just as wonderful as I” and invites us to wonder and marvel at Creation.  In the sixth and final stanza, Service turns our attention to God:

If wonder is in great and small,
Then what of Him who made it all?
In eyes and brain and heart and limb
Let’s see the wondrous work of Him.
In house and hill and sward and sea,
In bird and beast and flower and tree,
In everything from sun to sod,
The wonder and the awe of God.

Wonder and awe.  Of Creation and Creator.

“In the beginning God created …”  Genesis 1:1

I understand the first chapter of Genesis as ancient poetry – beautiful, evocative, imaginative.  It is an invitation to take another look at the world and to wonder at our very existence.  As a person of faith in the current era, I am quite willing to stand in awe of the ‘Who’ of creation and not worry about the details of the ‘how.’  Nature is.  And God was at its beginning, is in its midst now, and will be present in all the days to come.

“Consider the lilies of the field ….”  – Jesus, Matthew 6:28

I invite you to look at a few flower photos (sorry, no lilies).  Notice the color, the texture, the raindrop or the shadow and to see the wondrous work of God.  Then gaze – perhaps at a person or pet near you or at the scene out your window – and notice other beautiful, marvelous works of God.

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Photo:  TLClark.

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Photo:  TLClark.

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Wildflowers of a restored prairie on a rainy day. The Morton Arboretum. Photo: TLClark.

This is the last in a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking here.

 

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“The Wonderer” (Stanza 5 – You/Creation)

In the first four stanzas of “The Wonderer” Robert William Service wrote of

  1. “the moving marvel of my Hand”
  2. “the wonder of my Eyes”
  3. “the wonder of my Heart”
  4. “the wondrous wonder of my Brain”

Lest you and I  think we are any less marvelous than he, the beginning of the fifth stanza of the poem assures us otherwise.

But do not think, O patient friend,
Who reads these stanzas to the end,
That I myself would glorify. . . .
You’re just as wonderful as I,
And all Creation in our view
Is quite as marvelous as you.

The pastor in me immediately remembered the words of the psalmist:  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Ps 139:14a NRSV)  Not just me.  You, too, are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Nothing less than a marvel.

The rest of the fifth stanza – the way it is printed makes it look like it is not a new stanza – is an invitation to wonder.

Come, let us on the sea-shore stand
And wonder at a grain of sand;
And then into the meadow pass
And marvel at a blade of grass;
Or cast our vision high and far
And thrill with wonder at a star;
A host of stars — night’s holy tent
Huge-glittering with wonderment.

I searched through my digital photographs looking for sand and grass and stars.  I took time to marvel at the variety of unique flowers and wonder at the shapes of many individual leaves.  But flowers and leaves aren’t mentioned in this stanza of the poem.

I don’t take many landscape pictures.  Nevertheless I found a few photos that sort of reflect the fifth stanza of Service’s poem.  Hope you’ll take a moment to wonder or marvel or thrill – not so much at the pictures but of the memories you have of a sea-shore, a meadow, and the night sky.

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Beach, Golden Gardens Park, Seattle, Washington.  Photo: TLClark, 10/7/2018

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Sand on Fingers and Rock, Golden Gardens Park, Seattle, Washington.  Photo: TLClark, 10/7/2018.

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Meadow, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois. Photo: TLClark, 6/29/2013

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Blade of Grass after the rain.  Photo:  TLClark, 6/29/2013

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Epiphany Stars, Faith UCC, January, 2013

This is another in a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking here.  The first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here, the third is here and the fourth is here.

“The Wonderer” (4th stanza: Brain)

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This is the fourth of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here and the third is here.

Now, the fourth stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

Then oh! but how can I explain
The wondrous wonder of my Brain?
That marvelous machine that brings
All consciousness of wonderings;
That lets me from myself leap out
And watch my body walk about;
It’s hopeless – all my words are vain
To tell the wonder of my Brain.

A few observations about how the brain operates.  There is the “Eureka!” sort of moment; a realization of discovery.  There is the “Wow!” of wonder, of being taken aback at how another is thinking.  There is the pondering, the imagining of what might be.

EUREKA!  As a brand spanking new Computer Programmer in the “real world” in 1987 I was amazed at how my brain worked.  Computer coursework in college had not taught me exactly what I needed to know.  But it had taught me how to think to learn what I did need to know for using particular programming languages in a specific computing environment.  I marveled at how my brain made connections.

WOW!  My oldest nephew was about 4 years old when I pulled out the book God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.  Upon hearing the title, B responded in a matter-of-fact tone, “It must be really big.”  It took me a moment to realize that God, who is pretty big to a preschooler, would have a really big paintbrush.

IMAGINE.  Ponder.  Contemplate.  Wonder.  About a creative endeavor.  About a career move.  About the words of a poem, the lyrics of a song, the phrases in a text.  About a relationship.  About God.

Holy God … assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those you love you.   – From Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.

God has prepared things for those who love God that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.  – 1 Corinthians 2:9b CEB

 

“The Wonderer” (3rd stanza)

This is the third of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here.

Now, the third stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

What of the wonder of my Heart,
That plays so faithfully its part?
I hear it running sound and sweet;
It does not seem to miss a beat;
Between the cradle and the grave
It never falters, stanch and brave.
Alas! I wish I had the art
To tell the wonder of my Heart.

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Hearts at Faith United Church of Christ, February 2013. Photo: TLClark

The wonder of my Heart.  And your heart, too, for that matter.  Working unceasingly.  Beating dozens and dozens of time per minute, every minute of every hour of every day.  Moving blood – nutrients for life – throughout our bodies.

The wonder of big-hearted people.  Loving and generous and kind.  Forgiving and welcoming and encouraging.  Remembering all that is good.  Sharing nutrients for life throughout our communities.

The paper hearts pictured were part of the children’s message one Sunday in early February six years ago.  The scripture for the day was the great love chapter:  1 Corinthians 13.  I invited everyone in the congregation that day – young and old alike – to write something about love on a paper heart.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  – I Corinthians 13:4-8a  NRSV

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“The Wonderer” (1st stanza)

This is the first of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem here.

Here’s the first stanza:

     I wish that I could understand
     The moving marvel of my Hand;
     I watch my fingers turn and twist,
     The supple bending of my wrist,
     The dainty touch of finger-tip,
     The steel intensity of grip;
     A tool of exquisite design,
     With pride I think: “It’s mine! It’s mine!”

Have you considered your hands lately? 

Take a look.  Finger.  Thumb.  Joint.  Palm.  Knuckle.  Notice the colors and the textures.  See the veins carrying blood, keeping you alive.  Are there scars, telling stories of mishaps or something more serious?  Is there jewelry, reminding you of precious vows or a special trip or a favorite person? 

Think about how you use your hands every day.  Marvelous, aren’t they?!!

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Who has held your hand, recently or long ago?  Whose hand have you held?  With love.  In friendship.  To pray.  To teach.  To reassure.  To connect.  To hold up.

“Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”  – Psalm 37:24 NRSV

“Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” – Psalm 73:23 NRSV

“…even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.” – Psalm 139:10 NRSV

May your hands be helpful today, to you and to others.  May they bring joy, offer comfort, spread kindness.  May they be a reminder that you are loved beyond measure.

Christmas: Home by Another Way

We’re home.  And we came by another way:  Highway 20 instead of Interstates 90 or 80.  As we crossed Iowa, I remembered travelers near the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew.

MagiMagi from the east journeyed to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem to honor “the newborn king of the Jews.”  There may or may not have been three of them.  They may or may not have ridden camels.  They were not exactly welcomed by King Herod – though Herod pretended otherwise.  When they found the newborn they presented three gifts.  Warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they headed home another way.

Joseph heeded a dream to avoid Herod’s wrath by taking the family to Egypt.  This is the first trip for Joseph and Mary as Matthew tells the story; there is no mention that they had to travel to Bethlehem.  So, I wonder, did they call Bethlehem “home” for awhile?  Eventually Joseph took the family from Egypt to the land of Israel but it didn’t feel safe there so they settled in Nazareth.  In both instances, they made their way to another home.

Life is like that.  Sometimes it is a journey of going from and returning to the same address.  The house itself remains the same.  The travelers themselves may be changed by the trip – what they saw or who they met or an experience they shared.

Other times life is a matter of leaving – even fleeing – what is no longer healthy, life giving, life affirming.  Sometimes you have to move to a new place, begin again, create a new home.  Like it or not, travelers are changed by this kind of journey.

The good news is that no matter where we are or where we go, we are never alone.

Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.   Psalm 23:6 CEB

Jesus:  “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”  Matthew 28:20b CEB

Childhood Home

My childhood home. Photo taken when I went back there to help my parents pack to move.  Though they lived there for more than 45 years, it is no longer home.  Photo: TLClark, May 2017.

Christmas: Shepherds

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I’ve been thinking about Shepherds since Christmas Eve.

Shepherds.  Providing for every need:  clean water, good food, safe shelter.

Not just the men (and women?) who seemed to simply leave their flocks in the fields to rush off in search of a baby in a manger.

Shepherds.  The men and the women who shepherd congregations.  Through the high holy days and the mundane every days, through great joy and deep sorrow – providing water and food and shelter.  Offering rest and healing, play and opportunities to learn.  Sharing story and art and music and movement and so much more.

Shepherds.  The women and men who care for our children – at home, in day care, at school and more – providing water and food and shelter.  Offering rest and healing, play and opportunities to learn.  Leading and teaching with story and art and music and movement and so much more.

Shepherds.  The women and men who care for our elders – at home, at care centers, in hospice and more – providing water and food and shelter.  Offering rest and healing, play and opportunities to learn.  Using story and art and music and movement and so much more.

Shepherds.  Feeding and sheltering and caring for others.  And being fed and sheltered and cared for by others (including the Great Shepherd)!

Thanks be to God.