Take my hand

This last week, I had an experience helping a friend who wanted to self-harm. Some of my thoughts about that experience developed into the first stanza in this poem, and the rest of the poem followed. 
I don’t personally struggle with temptations to self-harm. If you’re reading this and you do struggle with those thoughts, please know that you are loved. 

Take my hand 

“I cut my wrists,
So I know I won’t feel comfortable in heaven.”
Christ said, “my wrists were cut for you, 
Take my hand and you will be comfortable with me.”

“I’m different, I’m made fun of, 
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “I was mocked for being different, 
Take my hand, you belong with me.”

“My friends say I’m not good enough, and they left me,
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “in my darkest hour, my friends abandoned me, 
Take my hand, and I’ll always be your friend.” 

“I fail, and fail, and fail, and fail to choose the right, 
So I know I’m not worthy to be in heaven.”
He said, “I know how hard it is to choose to drink the bitter cup,
Take my hand, I can make you worthy.”

“The world has taken from me, and abused me, 
So I know there’s not enough of me left to go to heaven.”
He said, “the world abused and hurt me, too. 
Take my hand, I know you are enough.”

“Others are so much more righteous than I 
So I know I’ll never make it into heaven.”
He said “there’s room for everyone who wants, 
Take my hand, and you’ll make it with me.”

“I doubt myself, I doubt in you sometimes,
So I know I won’t hold on all the way to heaven.”
He said, “I will come back to you as many times as you need. 
Take my hand for this next step.”

“I’m a terrible person, I’ll never be worthy of love
So I know I’m not worth your help.”
He said, “Take my hand, and follow me.
Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without you there.”

Believers at the edge

This is a slightly different style than the poems I usually write, but I wanted to try something new. I was listening to a talk by Hank Smith about believing, and he used the example of Charles Blondin crossing Niagara falls on a tightrope. I love this example and sent home a poem about it from my mission. I liked the point he made, though, and tried to get that across in this poem.

Believers at the edge

10,000 gathered on the American edge,
10,000 gathered on the Canadian edge,
To see the Great Blondin
Cross Niagara on a tightrope.

Cheers rose as he crossed once,
Louder as he crossed back,
Then he grabbed a wheelbarrow,
And shouted to the crowd:

“Do you believe that I can walk
And roll this wheelbarrow along, too?”
They all shouted, “We believe!”
And cheered him on to go.

“That’s good that all of you believe,
But I only need one volunteer.
Who will sit in the wheelbarrow,
As I walk across the falls?”

Silence fell. The crowd grew still.
Nobody raised a hand.
“What?” the Great Blondin cried,
“I thought you said you believed?”

Who’s a believer?
The person who stands
And dares to tell the whole ward
They believe?

That is truly wonderful,
But to be a believer
Does what you choose to do
When not in church matter, too?

“I’m so glad,”
Says God,
“That you believe in me,
Will you get up and leave this movie?”

Or “I’m happy,”
Says He,
“That you have such a testimony.
Will you share it with your friends?”

Daniel was a believer,
Praying when he knew of the lion’s den,
David was a believer,
Facing goliath with only a sling in his hand.

Nephi was a believer,
Going back for the plates when he once again failed,
Joseph was a believer,
Leading Christ’s church though hell and earth assailed

Christ was a believer,
Drinking the bitter cup he wished could pass.
Am I a believer,
Living up to what my Redeemer asks?

I don’t know if, today, I’d answer yes,
That I’d hop in the Great Jesus’ wheelbarrow.
I don’t have perfect faith,
Or perfect trust in my Perfect God,

But I’m an idealist falling far short
Of ideals I yearn, someday, to live.
I’ll let Him carry me across smaller waterfalls,
I’ll build my trust in Him.

I’ll show my faith in little things,
And my faith, like a seed, will grow.
Until I, a believer at the edge,
Will choose unhesitatingly to trust Him.

The Village of Krasnodosch

Sent home from my mission, Oct 08, 2018

I thought of this poem this week while listening to a conference talk describing the Jewish seder. Jewish families not only set a place for Elijah, but fill his cup to the brim and send a child to the door to see if Elijah is there. (Hosanna and Hallelujah—The Living Jesus Christ: The Heart of Restoration and Easter, by Elder Gerrit W. Gong) I think this tradition is a great example of living with faith. 

My poem this week, tentatively titled “The village of Krasnodosch” (crass- no- doesh, roughly translated as “red rain”), is a story I heard in sacrament meeting once in Ivano-Frankivsk. I put the story to verse, because I think it fits really well. The speaker used it to point out the difference between mere hope and faith. It reminds me of a quote I heard once, that “faith is what we choose to act on every day”. I liked the story and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

The Village of Krasnodosch

There once was a small village
With the name of Krasnodosch.
The people there loved God, and they
All followed him with hope.

One spring, the people planted fields,
But then, no rain did fall.
One week turned to two, then three,
The fields weren’t looking well. 

The people all decided they would gather
Together on the next day
And pray that God would send them rain,
So the drought would go away.

The day was hot and cloudless
As the crowd started to form,
But one young girl walked up with an
Umbrella on her arm.

They asked her why, she said, “Well,
Aren’t we here to pray for rain?”
They shrugged, and all together,
They prayed, and then they prayed again.

They prayed for several hours,
But the rain still didn’t fall.
The crowd started to go back home,
But with hope, hearts were full.

“Look!” Said the umbrella girl,
“A cloud!” The crowd all turned
And saw far off a tiny thing,
The name “cloud” barely earned

They watched as it grew closer, and
They watched as it grew big.
They wondered if this answered prayers,
And each sure hoped it did.

The cloud stood right on top of them,
But not a drop fell down
“Schwoop!” the girl’s umbrella went,
But some began to frown

Then, after a while, a drop,
Then one more, two, and then,
Someone opened heaven’s floodgates-
It began to pour down rain.

The town ran home, glad but wet-
Their hope was not in vain.
The umbrella girl, she walked home dry,
For she had prayed in faith.

The Economics of Happiness

Originally published 03-21-19

This week, I feel like I have received some personal revelation that I need to put forth more effort to coming to know my Savior. One of the things I decided to do is update this blog with a new, spiritual poem every day for a week. I hope this will help me to focus on Christ more this week, as well as to get some more poems on my blog for others to read and enjoy as well.

This poem is based off a comment my dad made once, and an experience I had in Ukraine with a sweet old lady.

The Economics of Happiness

I walked through her bare cement hallway
into her one furnished room.

Breathing through my mouth,
I saw the mostly-intact bookshelves
that held clothes
and a small framed picture of Jesus.

Bent almost square,
she shuffled
deliberately
to the couch
(that was also her bed)
and lowered herself down.

We sat on small stools,
ignoring cockroaches,
and we just listened to her.

I looked at her failing eyes.
she smiled
a smile I’ve rarely seen
in real houses.

Sometimes He Calms the Storm

Originally published 03-10-19

In high school, someone I knew made a clay model of an empty, mostly sunk boat. The title of this art piece, and the inspiration for this poem, is “Sometimes He calms the storm, sometimes He calms the sailor.” I thought this especially fit the Come Follow Me for this week, where Christ calmed the tempest.

Sometimes He Calms the Storm

One bright spring day, a fisherman
left home to ply his trade.
With a prayer to God to return him safe,
he sailed into the waves.

He cast his net, and gathered in fish
to feed his family poor.
Then, with a prayer of thanks to God,
he started home once more.

Then, suddenly, swift winds arose
and a storm was all around him.
He fought to steer and stay aboard
as waves began to pound him.

The sea attacked and stole away
his fish, his nets, his oars,
and the lonely seaman, struggling, desperate,
fought the storm for hours.

And as he strove to stay alive
his hour of death seemed near,
and, in hope and desperation,
he lifted up a prayer:

“I ask this not for me, alone,
but for my family, too.
Please help me live through this fierce storm
to give them house and food.”

And as his boat was bashed by waves
the sailor saw a single ray of light
pierce the clouds and strike his boat,
and he felt all would be right.

The sailor then felt peace so deep
it seemed to calm the storm.
He felt that God was next to him,
and his soul felt still and warmth.

Though pounding waves still crashed and raged,
though the water felt like ice,
though the sailor’s fate was still in doubt,
He felt serene inside.

I don’t know this story ends,
perhaps he lived, perhaps he died.
I don’t know if God wanted him
to die, or to survive.

But I know this: in seas of live
were each faced with storms of trial and danger
and though sometimes God will calm the storm,
sometimes He just calms the sailor.