In a Mood to be Woo’d?

“We should be woo’d and were not made to woo.” 

That’s a line by Helena in William Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (II, i, 242).

Helena has been cast into the role of pursuer, with Demetrius as the object of her desire, a reversal of roles which she finds scandalous.

Reading this confronted me with the reality of how I, in my impatience, fail to wait as a bride for my bridegroom. I run headlong into the woods pursuing lesser-loves bent on my demise. Scandalous!

Christ is a love-struck bridegroom. Out to pursue us. Out to woo us, to make us his own.

Why then do we cast ourselves into the unnatural role of pursuer of our own loves? Those “other gods,” those “idols” that promise fulfillment, but leave us ravished.

Deep idols like power, approval, comfort, control that we seek to fulfill through surface idols like money, spouse, children, or sex.

Ever felt ravished by chasing other lovers, torn to pieces like wild beasts? Can you tell the difference between being “lured” and being “wooed?”

I find waiting for Christ’s promised return gut-wrenching and faith-bending. The preparation holds refining and suffering. Long, long-suffering.

So, am I in a mood to be woo’d? Will I wait for what I expect? Will I keep looking for signs that my supreme lover is indeed wooing and pursuing?

Today, I stumbled on a poem I penned 8 years ago. I hope it stirs up courage and patience and alertness in you, like it did afresh for me:

Bridegroom!  Call My Name.

I watch the veil of your glory

Lift and fall over mountain ranges.

Such beauty reveals, yet hides your strength.

Your winds whisper your astonishment at my beauty.

Beauty formed by your handiwork in my deepest places.

Places where you’ve fashioned trust with your words:

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

To which I respond:

“I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”

O when will you return?

Don’t hold back any longer.

Fountain of purity and longing

Spring up in me.

In your trust, I will wait.

Your trust and my hope wrap around each other.

They twist and entwine with each other.

Flocks of geese gather today’s grain

From Autumns’ stubble.

Sentinels posted on corners keep watch.

So I keep watch.

Immersed in daily business I watch.

Watch to guard my heart.

Watch to catch first glimpse of your garments.

How long O Lord, must I wait to see

Your arms stretched toward me?

In darkness, I hear rain softly drip

Downward from leaf to leaf.

Could that be your footsteps?

My longings stretch forth to grasp

The words you’ve left me with.

And I wait.

But I don’t want your words.

I want you.

Bridegroom!  Call my name.

I will appear before you.

Let tears of anticipation and joy

Well up and burst from your eyes

As you behold the bride you’ve made.

Made to take your breath away with a gaze.

My longings for you come between me

And all the feasts of the earth.

How much longer until I hear:

“Arise, come with me my darling,

My beautiful one, come with me.”

~Ron Silflow~

 

Sown (Sonnet 0002)

john12-24Sown

A kernel of wheat I remained alone.
A coat of many colors I’ve adorn.
Bravado ceased when by His hand was thrown.
You did not bow, but rather lent me scorn.

Beneath the soil, earth’s darkness mutes my groan.
My thirsting soul despairs where it’s been thrust.
A seed-a-dying, naked, here You’ve sown,
Lies thwarted and forgot in dungeon’s dust.

What’s this!? Baptized am I in heaven’s dew?
Has double-helix mem’ry heard a Word?
The dance begins, roots, shoots burst forth on que,
Old garments shed so new, with blade, are gird.

You to such increase of the ground belong.
Take bread and wine and sing Redemption’s song.

By Ron Silflow

References:
Genesis: The Joseph Story

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Zechariah 8:12 …the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew…

Psalms 63: 1 … my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is…-

If I Were Abednego

Why me?

Crisis descends.

Why me?

Fires stoked thrice.

Why me?

Fires stoked thrice, twice.

Sheer terror.

Why me?

Such injustice!

Such crucible tries my weary faith.

Fires stoked thrice, twice, plus one.

Why me?!

Yet, what binds me, burns.

Eye scales drop as ashes,

And I see.

I see Another.

Unsinged, I gasp!

Unhinged, I grasp

The one alongside.

Saving me through,

Not from,

The furnace.

My complaint shifts to query,

Why YOU?!

 

(Inspired by Pastor Bryan Clark, sermon, Trial By Fire, Daniel 3:13-30)

Between Cherubim

My heart is on the search.

Taut cords emerge from intensely outstretched hands.

Yearning for intimacy.

More than the intimacy sought under every rock

As I lick the earth.

Then, my mind’s eye gets a glimpse of You!

In that open space ‘tween Cherubim.

Inviting me.

I recognize that Hand on my shoulder.

Taut cords once emerged in outstretched, nailed agony.

Now gathers me in.

Cherubim take flight.

Wildernesses Rock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Rock.

Cleft Rock.

Rock riven.

None other Rock.

Wildernesses Rock.

Smitten Rock bleeds waters.

Quenching waters quicken thirst,

Thirst for my Pursuer,

Pursuing to save.

Salves my heart.

My riven heart.

Flesh, from

Stone.

______________________

 

Inspired by:

1Co_10:4  And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Exo_17:6  Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Exo_33:22  And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

1Sa_2:2  There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

Psa_18:31  For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; let the water and the blood, from thy riven side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from it’s guilt and pow’r.

ROCK OF AGES, CLEFT FOR ME, vs.1, Augustus M. Tolplady, 1776.

Eze_36:26  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Joh_7:37  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

Manger

Manger

I know not how you found me

In such unlikely place.

Mary laid You in my heart.

Cold, stone, manger of a heart.

 

Your beams began their warming,

My soul to penetrate.

Yes your beams sang forth their shine

Where marrow and bone entwine.

 

O’erflow a manger with life.

Of things cut down and slain.

Provender for lowly beast,

God Himself the blessed feast.

 

You work Your ways in secret,

Yet angels sing it ‘broad.

O manger, spill forth glory.

Spill forth this Christmas story.

Tent Within a Tent

A man extended his arms forward

so the blanket over his head formed a tent.

Through the opening, cradling a favorite doll,

And a stuffed tiger, crawled the two-year old

in pigtails and pj’s.

New pj’s.

It was dark inside.

Her pupils dilated so she could see

a tiny space.  And grandpa.

Yet something wasn’t right.

She hurriedly left to return with

more of what was precious to her.

A blue horse.

Second favorite doll.

Pink princess brush.

Every item was shifted and tilted

Until they passed inspection.

It was quiet.  Still.  Holy.

Her excited breath the only sound.

Two sets of eyes met.

She whispered, “It’s great, isn’t it!”

A gray-bearded man smoothed his linen robe.

New linen robe.

White.  Blue.

Hemmed with pomegranates and bells.

Though he limped, he limped with dignity

Through burning, wilderness sand.

Clutching a bowl of blood.

Lambs’ blood.

He stooped and entered the tent within a tent.

It was dark inside.

He could smell a hint of lanolin

Mixed with the pungent scent of incense borne on

Whispy streams of smoke.

Something was amiss.

He hurriedly hobbled out, bells tinkling, to return

With more of what was dear to him.

Twelve stones.  Emerald.  Carbuncle.  Topaz and more.

It was still.  Quiet.  Holy.

He could hear his own breath.

With his eyes closed

He saw he was not alone.

He lingered long,

Then whispered, “It’s great, isn’t it!”

A priest.  A son.  Pierced hands.

Wounded feet and side.

Enveloped in a new robe.

White.  Blue.

Stepping where only angels tread

He stooped to enter the tent within a tent.

Left arm cradled the all costly bowl of blood.

Lambs’ blood.

No light needed.

It was Holy.  Still.  Quiet.

For a moment he waited, breathless,

Until he knew he was not alone.

Father and son embraced.

They lingered.

Father, he whispered,

“It’s great isn’t it!”

Cowherd’s Sonnet

              Sonnet 0001

In a place where milk streams toward the pail,

My heart spills complaint like grapes crushed for wine.

O God!  What God grows mute at such prevail?

To scorn these wings once scaling heav’ns sublime.

Is this my fate?  My station a cowherd?

Have not I walked in academic halls?

To wear such splattered dung be my reward?

I shake my fist that to this end, I’d fall.

Yet, in my rage, I watch sparrows descend

To deftly pluck their barley kernel meal

From cattle dung, no less, such daily bread,

Then up to parlor rafters praises peal.

Struck dumb at such epiphany revealed

My melted heart, to God’s provision, yields.

by Ron Silflow

This Bum Lamb

The Lost Lamb by N.C. Wyeth

 

A poem inspired by Pastor Jeff Hamling, preaching from Matthew 22:41-46:

For “The Lamb” to seek out this lamb.

This lamb lost.

This lamb hungry, lonely.

This bum lamb.

Lost, hopelessly lost,

Racked with gnawing hunger,

Tormented with the intensity of aloneness.

Empty.

Devoid.

To me He appeared.

His searchings driven by love.

The Lamb given for this lamb.

There’s a Rock Following Me!

Image

Dear loved ones:

Here’s a peek into my life story.  My calling.  My heart.  Here’s what it looks like from my internal landscape, a backdrop which I know better, probably, than the world I try to carve a living from.  I hope you learn something about me you didn’t know.  And I really hope you will see a little bit of yourself as I spin my tale.

Lets’ say you’re walking through the forest and you look up through the treetop openings on a spectacular clear night and there it is, the North Star, good ol’ Polaris.  So you start walking in the direction you generally know as north.  Well, that’s what I do.  That summarizes how I follow my heart’s passions.   Let me show you more.

Days become nights and nights silently sneak back around to become days again.  And I continue through the forested landscape that seems to me to be even easier to see when I close my eyes.  I navigate hills and valleys, and splash through streams lined with Aspen groves nestled among Pine and Fir trees.  Sometimes, when I reach the edge of a grassy meadow and I’ve surveyed to make sure no one’s looking, I run, leap, tuck and roll a few somersaults until I feel dizzy.  So I lie on my back, spread my arms and legs and start wiggling like I’m going to make a snow angel, only there’s no snow.  I watch the cottonball clouds slowly stop spinning.  Then I think to myself, “This is good.”

Weeks of travel turn into months.  Sometimes, several cloudy, stormy days and nights go by and I can’t see the North Star, but I’m okay with that.  I don’t really even get anxious or surprised that I get disoriented once in a while and discover I’ve walked in circles.  The next clear night will come soon enough.

All this time, I realize I haven’t found any paths running North/South.  I keep searching for one hoping to speed up the trek, but really the terrain isn’t that bad and I like the journey more than I ache to arrive at a destination.  Meanwhile, I keep crossing plenty of trails running East and West.  Some of these trails are well worn with traffic, and occasionally I notice some have signposts telling travelers where they’re going.  I can easily name these trails because I’ve explored them extensively.  My footprints are recognizable on each one. Signposts read:

  • Better Life Boulevard
  • Lord Over Lane
  • Take It To The Next Level Lane
  • Weight Loss Way
  • Short Skirt Street

One time, while pausing at one of these intersections, a man spooked me as he ran by me carrying a shovel.  His eyes were glazed over and he didn’t want to be bothered, but I shouted out “Hey mister, where ya headed anyhow?”  And he shouted back over his shoulder, “Why, to the Land of Shiny Rocks, don’t you know?”   You wonder, “Gosh, a Land of Shiny Rocks sounds kinda nice.”  Then I sensed something inside again, that strong urge to keep moving north.

I learned a really great lesson from an Indian I came upon sitting beside a buffalo he’d killed.  His spear lay alongside the buffalo and I noticed its tip broke during the kill.  The Indian said he didn’t mind if I watched while he prepared the meat to take home to dry, as long as I kept quiet.  I saw him strike a piece of obsidian he’d brought with him with a regular old round rock and fashion it into a skinning knife.  Next he needed a knife to remove flesh from bone, so he took that same skinning knife and, with a few more strikes with the round rock, fashioned it into a butcher knife.  When the butchering was done, the butcher knife was then converted into a slicing knife to complete the job of preparing the meat to carry home.  Finally, he took the slicing knife and, with great care and skill, using a short piece of deer antler, created a new spear tip.  I sometimes surprise myself at how creative I can be sometimes too, especially when I find that what I used to get by yesterday, suddenly isn’t what I need to face the challenges of today.    So I adapt.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  I need to tell you there are periods when I wonder where the heck the creativity went?  Did is dissolve?  I would encounter serious threats to my survival.  I’d check my tools and discover I’d forgotten how to use them.  The inner voice of counsel and wisdom I’d come to rely on grows silent.

New voices inside my head whisper questions, doubts, and criticism.  Am I sure I should be heading north?  Shouldn’t I be on a trail?  I’m floundering.  Time’s wasting.  Turn back.  I wonder why it seems so hard to go north in an east/west world.  Then I move on again….north, of course.

Now this may seem like a solitary life I’m describing to you, and you’re right because it’s such an interior life, but, as I look back, something strange seems to happen over and over.  Whenever I cross one of the east/west roads, I soon bump into another person, here and there, all huddled up under a tree.  So I go up and huddle up under a tree next to them and say. “Hey, you okay?  Need any help?”  Then they may start to talk and tell me about some of their problems and pose questions like, “Gosh, life is supposed to be getting better, how come it’s not?  Here I am floundering.  And can I tell you about these voices I’ve been hearing lately?  They seem to shout at me, “Time’s a wastin’, work harder, be better, be prettier, be smarter, get to the next level.”

I listen to these stories.  I realize that I usually really like the people sharing them and posing their questions, but I never seem to have any answers.  So I just thank them for telling me about themselves and get up to start my own journey again.  I might also tell them that I think I can hear some answers to my own problems if I listen hard enough to the really quiet, almost whisper of a voice that seems a lot like the same urge I have to go north.  I like the look I sometimes see in their eyes when they seem to remember that they have heard whispers beyond the shouts too.

My journey might seem to you like a dream, or like life’s happening to me, more than I’m making life happen.  But, here’s more of how I see it.  The urge, the drive, the passion to go north isn’t something I made up, that’s been initiated from someone, somewhere besides me.  It’s like I know I’m part of something bigger than myself and my role is to respond, as best I can to that unmistakable urge.  But my response comes from a place deeper than a set of choices.  If it just amounted to making right choices, I think I would have tried another direction, an easier path.  I know myself well enough to know I don’t make right choices very well.  But I respond well to invitations, and life is a series of invitations to me.  Invitations to struggle, to suffer, to stumble forward.  And for some hard to explain reason, I never feel alone very long.  I figure the invitation is coming from some unseen inviter who likes it when I say yes.  That yes seems less like a choice and more like “Well, of course I’m gonna respond.  You’ve been inviting me northward a long time now, and I enjoy the company.”

A few years back, my awareness of not being alone took shape in the form of a rock.  Yes, I made friends with a rock.  It’s a large rock, about my height, but nearly three times longer than me.  Only, you can’t see it.  I can only see it once in a while myself, and usually with my eyes closed.  It just showed up one night when I was walking through a dark valley.  The experience correlated with one of several job losses I’ve encountered.  It was so dark, I could see nothing, but I heard shouts and screams that startled me.  I think I laid down and curled up in a fetal position and fell asleep from exhaustion.  When I awoke, I still couldn’t see a thing, but I reached out and touched this rock.  I felt around trying to gauge its size until I found a rough spot just big enough to grab hold of.  In that instant, I wasn’t alone.  I was just a rock, but I think it represented something more like a person because I no longer felt alone.  I fell asleep again, but this time with a deep sense of security.

Now, can you keep a secret?  That rock keeps following me.  It must be going north too, because I keep surprising myself by closing my eyes, usually during that slumber right before sleep, and reaching out my hand and, there it is again.  It feels just like a rock, rough and heavy, and I’ve never seen it move, but it keeps showing up in the new places my journey takes me.  That rough place that formed a handle I could grab hold of at first, is still there, only it seems like it’s getting smoother from the wear of my grip.

Since making friends with this rock that follows me around as I proceed north, I think I’ve slowed my pace some.  Though I’ve always seemed to value the process and the journey more than any eventual destination or sense of “I’ve arrived,” these days I seem even less inclined to get somewhere else or become someone different.  I still feel the urge, the passion, the compulsion to go north, but, when I close my eyes and stare at the rock, I think I sense it whispering something to me.  It whispers, “you’re at home when you notice me.”

During these moments of remembering, I glance around to make sure no one’s watching, and then I run, leap, tuck and roll a few somersaults until I feel dizzy.  I lie on my back, spread my arms and legs and start wiggling like I’m going to make a snow angel, only there’s still no snow.  I watch the cottonball clouds slowly stop spinning.  Then I think to myself, “This is good.”

Ron Silflow (originally created June 2011)