I used to really enjoy writing poetry when I was in school. I’ve always loved the freedom it offers, the unbelievable amount of variations you can place on speech when the barriers of grammar are removed. Every part of a poem– the line/word spacing, the capitalization of letters, the rhythm, the meter, even the font–they all can be manipulated to convey whatever images, messages a writer desires. This is what makes poetry almost as much a visual and auditory art as it is a written one.
This month, I kept feeling the spontaneous urge to try writing some again. I’m by NO means a writer: high school lit class is the extent of my formal training. I’m sure talented poets would cringe at my lack of any real literary structure or method, but I’m simply doing this for fun! Recently, I’ve felt so many moments that deserved to be documented, and I simply felt a strong sense that poetry was the right way. So, why not?
One of the lingering subjects on my mind this week has been unity. It was sparked by a passage in chapter 17 of John that seems to keep popping up around me; the section runs from verse 20 through the end (here’s a link if you’re intrigued: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+17%3A20-26&version=NIV). Essentially, it’s a prayer spoken by Jesus for the entire future body of believers, as in everyone who knows and who will one day come to know Him as their Savior. It so clearly expresses God’s desire for the world: His vision is for all people to be unified, to share in knowing their Creator’s love for them and in turn love each other. This image of harmony, of people who are fundamentally different but who dwell in not only peace but love for each other–I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I think it stood out to me so vividly amidst the exhausting developments in the Mueller report, the increasingly hateful wrestling match of abortion laws, the tragic Virginia Beach mass shooting, and overwhelming abundance of natural disasters–even among my social media feeds, which seem to overflow with shouting and lack any sort of listening.
I thought about it yesterday, when I witnessed one of my favorite moments in my church service. It happens during prayer. The second it’s announced that we’ll say the “Our Father” or the “Lord’s Prayer” as some of you may know it, the linear rows of people outlined by the pews suddenly break, and a massive entanglement of arms weaves its way through the room until everyone is sure that everyone’s hand is held. People reach across rows, elderly members bend in ways I didn’t think physically possible, unique 3-way handholds are quickly invented –whatever it takes to complete the wonderful vine-like structure of bodies and allow us to not only speak the words as a congregation, but feel together, breathe together.
That moment was the force behind this first poem I’ll share with you, my first attempt to translate one bit of the whirlpool of thoughts I’ve been having on this subject of unity. It’s a first draft, so maybe don’t dissect it too intensely! Here goes nothing…
I remembered those little wooden train cars
from elementary school
the ones with the magnets on the ends
But if you nudged two of them
just close enough
They’d whizz from your fingertips
and become one
if you were unlucky
you’d pick the wrong ends
And find yourself shoving the cars together
with irrational confidence
a force you knew was stronger than you
But one slip of concentration and
They’d find their own way back together
I remembered how much easier it was
to join them
than it was to feel their invisible repulsion
I remembered how
little train cars
to be together.
And I couldn’t help but think
Maybe it’s not until we get close enough
that we realize
it’s in our genetic makeup
I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17: 23
Spiced Peach Cobber (V)
Nothing says the beginning of summer like peach cobbler; this one is sweet and fruity but takes it a step further with a little warmth from ginger.
- 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches (save the peels)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted (earth balance is great)
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup vegan sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ginger
- 1 cup almond milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar dissolves, add the peaches, salt, and ginger.
- Cook the peaches over medium heat until very tender when poked with a fork. Mine weren’t quite ripe enough, so it took a bit longer.
- Remove peaches from liquid and set aside; add peels to liquid in saucepan. Bring to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Remove peels, and add remaining liquid to the peaches.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and ginger.
- Whisk in the almond milk until incorporated.
- Pour the melted butter into a square baking dish.
- Pour the batter over the melted butter, spreading it throughout the pan
- Finally, pour the peaches with their liquid over the batter. Do not mix. Some peaches will sink into the layers.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes, turning the oven up to broil at the end for about the last 3 minutes until it just lightly browns. (Watch the cobbler carefully under broil–the edges can burn easily!) Remove and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Be careful, it will be hot! Eat alone or top with ice cream if desired.