When you pick up a book of poetry or a book of song lyrics, you have to work.
You cannot read Gerard Manley Hopkins or W.H. Auden or Bono the same way you read Malcolm Gladwell or Donald Miller. With poems, you have to stop often, read out loud at times, look in your heart for images and understanding.
The book of Psalms is a book of poetry. It takes time to read and reread. But that what keeps people going back.
Here’s a reflection on the first of the psalms.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense, now, does it
if a person wanting to live a blessed life
gets all his advice from people who are against God
or walks along a path that leads away from God
or sits on the sidelines being snarky all the time.
Instead, think what would happen if she decided
to focus on God’s words
like words from a lover
and day and night reflected on them.
It’d be like a planting a tree right by a river,
roots well watered,
branches bearing great fruit.
The things people like that do, they prosper somehow.
A person who is against God isn’t going to grow this way.
Without the water of life, you end up more like chaff,
the hull on the outside of a grain of wheat,
blowing away in the harvest wind.
At the end of everything, when considering how life was lived,
the ones who chose to be wicked
will find their legs collapsing under them.
And the ones who joyfully wanted “sinner” as their pursuit
will find no room in the “righteous” section.
Those who trail along after God
find protection along the way.
Those who are committed to avoiding that path
will find themselves among the ruins.
(First published July 13, 2011)