I’ve been pretty silent on the poetry front for a while. I’ve been working on my book, “The Road Ahead”. It’s getting close to being done. I’d appreciate some added help here if you would. Here’s my Introduction and the Annotated Table of Contents.
Read it through and if you feel so inclined, select one of the chapters that seems to strike you, let me know via email and I’ll send you by return email the chapter you selected.
I would appreciate any comments, reactions, insights you have on that chapter.
The Road Ahead – Introduction
I wrote a my first book (“The Walk of the Eagle”, self-published 2002) because I felt that God was taking me on a new part of my journey. I had just read the book of Isaiah 12 times (or so) and felt that God was highlighting verses throughout the book saying, “These are for you.” Particular verses jumped off the page as I was reading and grabbed me by the throat. I wrote them down and worked on their meaning for me in poems (because that’s what I do). I knew if I didn’t write them down, I’d forget later, what the early part of the journey felt like. So I wrote a book to capture my early working through of things I felt God had promised me. I figured either they would come to be because God said them, or I’d find out I was wrong and was making the whole thing up. But in any case, how bad would it be to meditate on fragments of Isaiah and see what walking out these verses would do. [i]
Its now time to write another book to take a look at where I’ve come on this walk which started years ago and continues with God / The Holy Spirit / Love / Jesus / etc. (A triune God with more than 3 names – how confusing is that? ) [ii]
“The Road Ahead” is that second book. It’s more than a rehash of old promises, but a new description of the road(s) I find myself on, and how I got there. Walking with God is not a binary on/off experience. It’s a growing up and into who God sees me to be, and I see no end to this growing. God always seems to be a whole lot bigger than I thought. Indeed “we know in part, but then we will know fully as we are fully known”. “Knowing fully” is nowhere in sight for me, and I’ve learned to enjoy (mostly) this road. [iii]
Clark – 7/2015
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The Road Ahead Contents – Annotated
(Rooms / Places I Go Through)
I’ve gone through learning I was asking the wrong questions, to expect answers and believing they were answers, to learning to allow the Holy Spirit to tutor me in prayer, and watching God work in people through prayer as an intercessor on spiritual retreats. I developed a desire to take a tour through the mansion Jesus said he was creating for me. And now I delight in my explorations and in bringing people alongside on this journey.
2. Doors of Entry
I pass through a door
and find my way
into new things
I had not known
Frequently my prayers start out down familiar paths, only to find an unexpected door, a surprise ending, an answer I don’t particularly like, and I’ve come to see that this is a consistent aspect of the Holy Spirit’s conversations with me.
Who I am
by a touch
that gave me
and grow into
God gives gifts that turn out to be larger than my asking. Often I feel disappointed in a gift given from God that I don’t quite understand. I’ve learned to live with that disappointment for a bit as I do my initial stumbling about walking into each new unknown. A recurring “thank you” from me to God when I’ve been given such a gift is, “Um.. thanks? It’s not what I expected, but I bet in 2 years time, I’ll think it’s really cool. So, be patient and show me into this gift.” Turns out I gave the same kind of gifts to my kids. They were sometimes beyond what they currently wanted. But, I heard a year or two later, “I really appreciate what you gave me”.
4. Deep Healing
buried deep within me
I find hard rock
and a treasure
of who I am
Christ in me
God’s “too large” gifts to me deal with knowing and walking in more of God and Love. I’ve also had experiences of going deeper into myself for discovery and healing. Some talents emerged in such things as poetry and music which had been buried for years. These too are part of my journey. Discovering and walking through the Mansion created for me has been a large gift that keeps on giving. My prayers have largely centered around what I find there.
5. Uncharted Territory
(Endings & Beginnings)
I find that I learn a lot about myself and what I do, through endings and beginnings. These transitions force me to consolidate what has been familiar but is now ending, and then to start to think differently as I come into a new situation, job, or life phase which starts out pretty much a new unknown. And since God is both new every morning and the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, we can expect many times when our familiar gives way to something completely new that feels like we’re starting over.
6. The Me God Sees
(Seeing With Other Eyes)
has a better idea
of who I am
and am becoming
than I have yet seen
may I see me
with such eyes
Much changes come when we learn to see something from another’s point of view. I first strongly noticed this after 2 years teaching in Kenya. Before when I read news stories about East Africa, I had to take the story at face value and I collected a set of standard stereotypes. After I returned, I knew some of those people and suddenly the stories took on a more personal tone, and I could better feel what my friends there would think of the story. A similar thing is true with God in my experience. If I’ve just read about something God has done that’s a very different story than if I’ve experienced something similar. Now I know what it feels like both the joy in something new and the fear of the new and unknown that accompanies the knowledge that God has much bigger designs than I know. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Aslan is not a safe lion.” [Chronicles of Narnia]
When we get to know someone very different from us, news stories about them and issues affecting them, take on a very different cast.
7. A Legacy Forming
I’ve learned to take as my own
promises given by Love
received and grown into
as I walk through
my given room
place in the world
now re-gifted by me
As I age (gracefully, I hope) I wonder more about what I’m leaving behind for my kids, my friends. My thoughts turn more towards things people have told me that I have given them, for me that’s mostly in new ways to think about software, the world, and God. I’d like to leave more than a house that needs cleaning out and stuff that no one really needs. I expect that I leave more to individuals I’ve talked with or shared a book or poem with. I’m not a teacher of large groups. I’ve taught, but the focus for me seems more on an individual level, more like coaching, mentoring or just walking alongside for a time.
8. Doubt, Fear, Lost
(Towards The Dark Night)
wondering if I’ve misplaced my way
gotten lost from God
in my desire to walk the deeper pathways
further into my true and full self
the me God sees
and loves into being
I still feel lost and alone
Each new step I’ve taken with God has felt as full of doubt and fear as the last one. Stepping into the new doesn’t seem to ever become familiar for me. I’ve had a number of times when I’ve come face to face with an ending that appears to be going nowhere. I may have an indication of a next step, but am I sure? No, I doubt, and worry that “this time, it won’t work”. I know I think I’m walking in the promises of God, but perhaps this time I’m completely fooling myself.
9. Heart Broken
(what to do?)
lifting my eyes to see
the works of God
in the world
I see the broken
with new clarity
and my heart breaks
Desiring to see as God sees, has its downside. There is pain, sorrow and heartbreak in seeing the brokenness that God loves through us in order to bring new deeper love into being. The broken incompleteness seems to say “we’re not done yet”.
10. The House of the Lord
to the door of the mansion
I’ve been promised
and catch a glimpse
of the work of God
As my prayer has become more about holding people before God and asking how to pray for them, I have increasingly used the House of the Lord metaphor to give me guidance for myself and those I pray for. I pray by bringing people into the Mansion God has built for me and seeing what they do in various rooms or with people they meet. I’ve found that this is also a way others can pray and experience God’s scripture and plans for them as they come into the house. It’s a great way for me to experience scripture that God brings to my mind, from gifts given, to thoughts on worship, to becoming a spring of living water, and to being with God in me and me in God.
and a few other sections besides
A word on my hearing God’s Voice.
Instructions for The House of the Lord prayers
A. Appendix – So what do I do?
B. Appendix – Spiritual Activities I’ve found most helpful
C. Appendix: A word on Journaling in the House of the Lord
footnotes that got dragged along
[i] Isaiah 30:20-21 – this is the way, walk in it
[ii] Romans 8:33-34 – Jesus makes intercession for us
[iii] 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 – we know in part