Poetry 180: Listen

Another piece in this “series” that I recently enjoyed in my latest endeavor and resolution to write and read more poetry, starting with Billy Collins’ compilation of Poetry 180.

Listen by Miller Williams

I threw a snowball across the backyard.
My dog ran after it to bring it back.
It broke as it fell, scattering snow over snow.
She stood confused, seeing and smelling nothing.
She searched in widening circles until I called her.

She looked at me and said as clearly in silence
as if she had spoken,
I know it’s here, I’ll find it,
went back to the center and started the circles again.

I called her two more times before she came
slowly, stopping once to look back.

That was this morning. I’m sure that she’s forgotten.
I’ve had some trouble putting it out of my mind.


We’re in the throes of Lent, and I have to confess that I haven’t done much in the way of spiritual disciplines. Unless you count lurking on people’s FB pages, blogs, and Twitter. I meant to try an art journal like Katie and bought a sketch book. Except I can’t remember where I put it. But I’ve picked up/caught up on FPC’s Lenten Devotional, which is written by the members of the church. I’m enjoying it all – I’m going to share a few snippets:

Seeking Christ in the Ashes:

I love the words about fire, memories, and healing. There are texts about God’s covenant being fulfilled in all of us – each of us receiving God’s anointing and power for liberation. There are stories about the cycles of life and death, and the harsh, strange beauty of it all. There are images of God raising the impoverished from dirt and grime, the desperate from the ruins and remnants, and the barren woman surrounded by children (Psalm 113). These images from the Psalm strike me deeply – the hope and promise that life would be found in the most unexpected spaces.

Dust and ashes touch our face, mark our failing and our falling.
Holy Spirit, come, walk with us tomorrow.
Take us as disciples,
Washed and wakened by your calling.
Take us bythe hand and lead us,
Lead us through the desert sands,
Bring us living water,
Holy Spirit, come.

-Brian Wren

Seeking Christ in the Wilderness:

I remember the blog that College Hill members contributed to last year called Faithful Wonders, which I’ve enjoyed perusing again for stories about those thin places – those places of God’s miracle even in the seeming ordinary…those places that open you up like a wilderness expanse.

I preached at UPC on this first Sunday of Lent, and focused on the wilderness imagery. Here’s a little excerpt:

“Today’s passage actually doesn’t begin in the wilderness, and although only a verse is given to it in Mark’s version, it is undeniably palpable as it is sandwiched between Jesus’ baptism and Jesus’ ministry. This as a significant part of Jesus’ identity. In some ways, it seems an extension of his baptism where God proclaims over him, “You are my Son, my Beloved,” a baptism by water, and then a baptism by fire as the Spirit drives him out to the wilderness where he spends forty days clinging to the promise of God’s claim on his life. Both significantly impact his identity in his ministry – his connection to God, and his connection to us. And, all this carries over to us, too.

We do not face our wildernesses alone. We enter into them each time with God’s love sealed by the Holy Spirit – the words of baptism are a proclamation that each of us is God’s beloved. More than that, as David Lose, preaching professor says,

“This passage reminds us that Jesus came into darkness and violence precisely in order to be joined to our brokenness and to redeem it. Lent reminds us that whenever we find ourselves in the wilderness of disease, loneliness, joblessness, depression, or all the other things that challenge us, Jesus has been there before and meets us there in order to bear our burdens with us and for us.

It’s also a challenge to us to remember that there are angels all around us. But, more than that, we ourselves are the angels that attend to each other, and in fact, the presence of Christ for each other in the wilderness. We do not bear the burden of the desert alone.”

I love wilderness imagery. I was a backpacking guide for Wilderness Ranch, a Young Life camp in southwest Colorado, and cherish the memories from those two summers. No doubt, God marked me in a special way with those experiences through the community and the mountains. There are hardly words to describe all the small, but poignant moments – all potentially life-changing, like what Izzy (current director) wrote here. I miss these simple stories of grace that I know are all around me, but were so much easier to see and listen to in the wilderness – a place where everything is stripped away so that there is nothing but trees and water, stars and shoes.

I’ll keep all this in my mind…and circle around it a few times, and keep seeking it out.

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