As I was walking along the river today during what is normally my lunch hour I had the thought that maybe the poem I am looking for is one that I haven’t written yet.
I have read a lot of poetry lately and while much of what I read can—thought for thought—translate loosely into my lifes’ experience—it is still a somewhat vicarious attempt to explore the depths of who I am, where I fit in and the course I am to follow the rest of today and tomorrow.
The Bard said: To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
In other words—you can’t give to someone else what you haven’t got yourself.
Scripture warns us not to think to highly of ourselves, but never says that you can’t love yourself. In fact we are asked to treat our neighbors as we would treat ourselves—knowing full well that we wouldn’t keep those who live around us in the freezing cold if our house was warm and well stocked with food.
I don’t even know my neighbors anymore. As our little subdivision has grown over the years, there are very few people I can call by name. We might wave as they pass by in their cars or we might say hello to those who venture out for evening walks, but I can’t say I have been to dinner at anyone’s house in our neighborhood in ten years, nor have any been to ours (Danny & Cathy, our longtime friends, the expception to this). We did have a “get to know you” back yard thing a year ago and a few people showed up but other than that, they have their lives and we have ours.
20 years ago, most of the people who lived around us went to the same church and had built their houses together. I don’t know anyone from that era who lives in this county anymore. It is a trend and more than likely post-modern in its individualism but that is a rabbit I will not follow today.
I guess the original train of thought was that I have always had this feeling that I would like to be a Christian poet. But in my former Christian life I was always falling a little short of getting to the point where I was “good” enough to even consider this to be an option. Besides, what would I really have to write about anyway—I always seemed to be learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
What I saw around me was either syrupy or to serious and disciplined—both extremes seemed pretty far from the vibrant life I had once believed Christianity was meant to be. I couldn’t find a place to begin so I never really took the leap until recently being more or less forced into looking at my life and Christianity from a whole different perspective.
What I have begun to discover is that you can progress as a Christian and not be required to turn off your mind or intellect and that church is a volunteer organization not a club where you check your “real” life at the door every Sunday and pick it up again on the way out.
What this thought led to is the fact that there are many interesting stories and poems waiting to be written about the character and nature of the people we read about in the Bible. And that is where the title of entry came from….there is indeed a pathos in their stories and one could do worse than to lend a thoughtful ear to hear what their lives are saying to us today. And that is where the Jot and Tittle came from….I certainly don’t want to add something to their stores that is not there or leave out something that is.
But in some sort of reality, these are my neighbors too and giving them a chance to sit with me on a cool evening and tell me about their hopes and fears is the least I can do. Just as the flower proceeds the fruit, the theme comes before the first verse is ever written.
It will be another interesting ride. Enjoy yours.