Would I See Him

Sent home from my mission Aug 07, 2017

The poem I want to share with you this week is one I wrote half of in the MTC around Christmastime, and I finished the rest of it out in the mission field. I thought about what kind of person I would be if I lived in the time of Christ—would I be a shepherd who went and worshiped the baby Jesus, or would I be one of the hundreds or thousands of other people in Bethlehem to whom this was just another baby? 

Would I See Him?

If I’d walked the roads of Palestine
in older, simpler years,
would I have seen a man
drying people’s tears?
Would I listen to His words 
and choose to follow where He goes,
or would I spit on Him, reject Him,
there in Calvary, alone?

If I’d walked the roads of Bethlehem
on a certain silent night,
Would I have seen a baby
in swaddling clothes wrapped tight?
Would I have knelt and sang his praise
and worshiped Him, my Christ, that day,
or would I have been too busy
and continued on my way?

And in the paths I’m on today
in this loud and noisy world,
do I make time to see my Savior
and His gospel flag unfurled?
To pray for truth, and seek His grace
and follow what He taught,
or will I never feel His hand in mine
and do the works He wrought?

As I seek to walk His paths,
and simply serve my brother,
will someone see me, and notice 
as I try to help another?
Will they see my work and think of Him
who served us each so selflessly?
I don’t know, but I did my part
And I that’s enough for me.

Christ never said

I was reading Mosiah 24 for Come Follow Me this week (I’m a little behind) and I was struck by verse 14, where Christ seems to show that helping us in our afflictions is more important for us to build faith than delivering us from our afflictions. I decided to expand on that idea with other instances from scripture.

Christ never said

Christ never said that storms wouldn’t come,
He said He’d be a refuge when they raged. (Isaiah 25:4)

Christ never said we would not have trials,
He said He’d visit us in our afflictions. (Mosiah 24:14)

Christ never said He would keep us from wandering away,
He said He’d come and find us when we do. (Luke 15:4-7)

Christ never said we would not have grief or sorrow,
He said that with His stripes we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:4)

Christ never said we would be perfect in this life,
He said He would succor us in our infirmities (Alma 7:11-13)

Christ never promised we would never cry,
He said He would wipe away all tears from our eyes. (Revelations 21:4)

Christ never said we would not be heavy laden,
He said He’d give us rest, and make our burdens light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Christ never said that life would not be hard,
He said He would be with us always, even to the end (Matthew 28:20)

A House of Hope

A House of Hope

Hope is the warm bed
and the blankets I wrap myself in
when the cold creeps in,
and I need to feel held.

Hope is the solid door
that shuts the world out
and reminds me there is more to life
that I can make of it, myself.

Hope is the clear windows
that let me look and see
all the wonders God has made
and look out into forever.

Hope is the slick floors
I can slide on in my socks
and remember small joys now,
and big joys to come.

Hope is the slanted roof
carrying away the storm water
and keeping me dry
from the world’s droplets of depression.

Hope is the sturdy walls
Standing strong every day
and reminding me how long things last
when built with love and time.

Hope is the loving house
that invites me to be safe,
to belong, to find peace in
hope.

Redeemer

Redeemer

If every bad thought
were a stone you had to carry everywhere,
how grateful you would be
if someone helped you lift the pack
and let you walk again.

If every unkind word
were a year you could never see your family,
how grateful you would be
if someone offered to take on your lonely decades
and let you hug your family again.

If every hurtful deed
were a stab wound in your flesh,
how grateful you would be
to the doctor who bound and healed your wounds
and let you live without pain again.

And yet,

when every bad thought would always weigh us down from happiness,
when every unkind word would keep us from our family forever,
when every hurtful deed would lead to everlasting pain and death,
how often we forget
the Man who suffered, struggled, and died
to let us live again.

Life’s Grand Rehearsal

Originally published 11-18-19

Last Tuesday I almost didn’t go to the BYU Devotional. Nevertheless, I felt like I should, even though it was just a dance performance devotional. I’m really glad I went, though. Not only was it a really well done performance, but I also felt impressed with a couple of ways dancing relates to the Gospel and to Christ’s Atonement.

Later, I sent this out to the dance department, and they really enjoyed reading it!

Life’s Grand Rehearsal

Our joy is not just in the dancers’ grace
or eloquence they find in every turn,
but in the leaps and dips and pirouettes
is the awe of what we, too, could someday learn.

Our joy is not just in the blind man’s sight
or in the lepers, healed and whole and clean,
but in the Man who raised the blind man up
and all that He can help us someday be.

The hours of perfecting practice spent
in repetitions, slip-ups, trips and falls
make us better dancers for the trying.
Mistakes just become memories, after all.

The millions of trials we go through,
the times we mess up over and over again
refine our souls as nothing else quite can,
if we let Christ erase our every sin.

A dance is not just one person, alone
on stage and with a snare drum for a heart,
but teams and groups and partners who each try
to work together for this work of art.

We were never meant to live solo,
or try with just our strength to make it home,
but family, friends, the Spirit and the Son
will help us never have to dance alone.

The first sunset in the Garden of Eden

Originally published 11-09-19

I know this poem probably isn’t 100% doctrinally correct. The scriptures don’t have many details on the Garden of Eden,  so it’s hard to know much about it with certainty.

The first sunset in the Garden of Eden

The birds
still figuring out how to fly,
tried anyway to flap up
and catch the colors.

The lion and the lamb
stopped playing to see
what made the lamb’s coat
as golden as the lion’s.

The trees,
who feared the dark of night,
were soothed by the flower
of the fading sun.

The crickets,
still untrained violinists,
competed to praise the shades
of beautiful light.

The clouds
tumbling through new air,
paused and held still
to frame the moment.

Adam and Eve
sat side by side
and watched the world
that God had made for them.

The Great Minister

Originally published 11-03-19

I had stake conference this weekend, and one of the speakers, talking about ministering said a line I really liked. I expanded the idea and turned it into a poem.

The Great Minister

I’ve never raised the dead
        back to life,
never been able to say “I know
        exactly what you’re going through,”
or “I’ve suffered through that so you
        don’t have to,”
never made a mountain move
        or multiplied loaves and fish.
never made up for every loss,
        every broken dream.
never “wiped away tears
        from off all faces.”
never been a perfect example
        to lead the way back home,
never died to save my friends
        and enemies,
never changed the world.

But, like the Man who did those things,

I can take somebody’s hand
        and lift them higher.
I can weep with those
        who just need to cry right now.
I can help make tiny miracles happen,
        with my simple prayers and faith.
I can follow gentle promptings
        and bless those I am near.
I can wipe one tear
        off of one face.
I can be a friend, be close
        to those who suffer.
I can let my candle,
        however dim, show the way.
I can give some hours of my life
        to help someone in need
I can change a life.

Half-Autumn Trees

Originally published 10-26-19

Half-Autumn Trees

For a couple of autumn days 
between the first sparks of color 
and the mountains on fire 

the trees are in my favorite state— 
not entirely red, or brown and shedding, 
but with a few branches tenaciously green.  

It’s a lot like us, with these dashes of life seen among dry, crisp colors— 
divinity heavily spotted with imperfection. 
Though we pretend, sometimes, that we’re nothing but green, 

I like to ponder the half-yellow trees, 
and smile, and look through the leaves 
at the bright white sun. 

For a couple of autumn days 
between the first sparks of color 
and the mountains on fire 

the trees are in my favorite state— 
not entirely red, or brown and shedding, 
but with a few branches tenaciously green.  

It’s a lot like us, with these dashes of life seen among dry, crisp colors— 
divinity heavily spotted with imperfection. 
Though we pretend, sometimes, that we’re nothing but green, 

I like to ponder the half-yellow trees, 
and smile, and look through the leaves 
at the bright white sun. 

The Miracle of a Hand to Hold

Originally published 10-13-19

This last Thursday, I read this poem at the BYU Museum of Art Poetry Jam. A lot of different poets wrote works in response to different pieces of art on display, and we walked around and looked at the art while we heard the poets read their poems. It was a pretty neat experience. I wrote this poem in response to “Jesus and Peter on the Water” by Gustave Brion.

The Miracle of a Hand to Hold

As the only two men to ever walk on water
hold each other tightly,
the man holding desperately, the God holding lovingly,
the storm rages, and those without the faith to even try
watch over rough waves.

Faith in a bright night

Originally published 10-03-19

I wanted to publish a poem that related to General Conference, and I thought of this one, as told from someone who had heard Samuel the Lamanite. That was a very unpopular time to listen to the prophets. We have a thing or two to learn from that time.

Faith in a bright night

Every evening, I stay up
until the sun is gone
and the sky goes dark
again.

Every day, I see
fewer and fewer watching
with hope, and more crowds
mocking faith.

One sunset set apart
by the jeering mob to be the end
of those of us who still believe
in men of God.

One night, I witness
the blazing, sunless sky
when hope was burned into my chest
and faith confirmed.

One life, I’ll live
not always seeing through the night,
but knowing there will always rise
the Son.