poem "Musee des Beaux Arts" by W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind a tree.
In Brueghel's "Icarus", for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the plowman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky;
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
poem "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do no go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang in the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death how see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now wiht your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost (1974-1963)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked own one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet known how way leads on to way,
OI doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
poem "Searching for Lines" by Michelle Murphy (born 1978)
Dancing one’s socks off per three cups of wine,
Then skipping lines, circling my name,
And leaving to go yonder
In pursuance of fame.
Questing between worlds and eras
Upon a ship, either sunken, at bay,
Or on water, careening either which way
Without directions or maps
Ordinary to a more average trip
Says one, perhaps.
Meeting flash, bright sunlit square,
Shining upon my platform,
Gave me semblance of favor
And cheer above norm.
Here I filled a line or two,
Making way, scooping up time
And commanding the view.
Idling moments, daytime siestas,
Lasting spells on small boats,
Digging around the onshore castle I once danced in,
Now built to it a moat.
I circled around it, instead of my name,
Reading maps at high noon
And feeling some shame.
Finding a window, I pressed my nose to the glass,
Leaving a slightly original and greased mark,
Returning from yonder, skipping no lines
And erasing my name,
I left to go dancing.
I attended a poets' workshop a few weeks back and there were many depth-ful discussions in a close-knit setting. At first, I wondered the purpose of this form of conversation among strangers. I discovered deep conversations meant to peer into one's soul make for good writing. For every poet I realized carried with them real life experiences, especially ones of sacrifice or sorrow and eye-popping points-of-view. A poet must realize the spiritual world and mix it with the emotional elements of life to conjure the imagination. This allows for poetic expression, and for one to do things that are otherwise less possible as we travel the road of life. Language and writing directed to someone else can jumpstart another to think of personal application; an author has a purpose to get others to feel in their raw gut something real. The imagined takeaway by the author is just that, but the reader reacts and uses his or her own imagination to carry out life, potentially with a new thought in mind.
What should we ponder in order to write and express ourselves well to others? At least some of the following: Do we have compassion or tend to look away? What are our spiritual beliefs? How do we ascertain suffering in the world and what is our experience with it? Are we light-weight sufferers or do we keep getting back up for life? What of the laws of nature and conversation and language? What is romantic to us and whom do we love? What is our experience in being loved back and how have we responded to rejection? What of our life experiences can we put onto paper or express to others? What deeply ingrained reactions can we find purpose in, or retrain for a better outcome? What do you want to say to the world now, even though we know we haven't yet made it fully - but yet we feel in the raw form and we have tidbits of knowing to express? Ponder, express, write.
At the poets' workshop I attended one person asked, "Why did God create anything in the first place?", as part of another question - "Why are we here and what is our purpose?" I ask, "Why does the poet write a poem, or why does any man or woman create anything at all? What is life without the ability for us to create?" And another responded, "So as the artist is a creator, so God created and we may in fact be God's poetry". I challenge you to create your own universe in the form of poetic expression, or any other kind of expression. The language, grunts and murmurs we feel, think and converse with are all part of an expression and interrelated with life all around us. Interaction is the breath of life, and so purposefully interact and express yourself within this world. And do these other few things for me: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." "Take the road not taken." Don't turn your eye to "a boy falling from the sky." Dance. Dance. Dance.
Dear God, Sometimes we are like the young children in the poem "Musee des Beaux Arts" who did not specifically want to be alive and born. We come from different lives and backgrounds and their is torture and suffering to which we turn a blind eye to too often. The roads we travel may not always be fine journeys even if they do make a difference. We know you hear our grunts and groans and also our poetic expressions and prayers. You know our kind deeds where we ought not normally be kind, and you know our warts, addictions and misbehaviors. Today we thank you for Your creation and stand in amazement of it, even if it includes the 10 fingers I have that I will use to express myself on paper. I want to get in touch with my soul, and also feel Your soul. I think of Your soul like the fresh cleansing breath in the wind that sets everything straight at just the right time. For I began to walk up straighter not too long ago and it was this wind I caught - Your doing. I pray for ability in expression - whether a deep and important set of words towards a loved one at a pivotal moment, or in my writing. May there be more poets and readers of poets in the world who find eye-popping points of view on real life experiences worth digging into. We cannot change the world without Your wings, but we do seek to improve it - for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and brothers and sisters period. I pray for uplifting, for wings, for inspiration, for Your cleansing breath, for more than just my 10 fingers but for the whole universe that unravels before us through science and star-gazing. If we are God's poetry, then You, God, amaze with Your creation. You Rock! Amen!
Is There a God? - poem by Michelle Murphy
My faith is strong
And my knowledge Of God in its fullness.
Yet I still ask The big questions
While the details Are filled in,
From life experience, From pondering,
Hard knock discussions, From facing down reality.
Is God for real?
I say there are 2 answers.
I decided on evidence To believe in God
But accept I’ll always wonder a bit.
For I know the angels And demons up close,
But God is so big a deal He’s hard to touch.
The 2nd option Is to not to believe in God
But ponder, If in some minute way only, That He does exist.
To know concretely Is to ignore mysticism
Or be under the heavy influence Of materialism.
Basically a babe Who’s faith has not yet been tested.
We are born into adversity, Into our fleshly bodies.
We must rise to the occasion.
The possibility of God Is a fact.
Some might dare to say The possibility
Of no God Is also a fact.
I dare to believe
And I dare to say.
This is facing down reality.
"Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson, Song excerpt
I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right...
As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin’ my mind
I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs
A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind ya’ know
’Cause they got nowhere to go
That’s why I want you to know
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)
1 Samuel 17 - Goliath’s Challenge, 1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. 3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. 4 Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.” 10 Again the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 12 Now David was the son of the Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, whose name was Jesse, and he had eight sons. And Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in yearsamong men. 13 The three older sons of Jesse had gone after Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and the second to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. Now the three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem. 16 The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand. 17 Then Jesse said to David his son, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers. 18 Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them. 19 For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.” David Accepts the Challenge, 20 So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army. 22 Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers. 23 As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. 24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. 25 The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” 27 The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, “Thus it will be done for the man who kills him.” 28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.” 29 But David said, “What have I done now? Was it not just a question?” 30 Then he turned away from him to another and said the same thing; and the people answered the same thing as before. David Kills Goliath, 31 When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued itfrom his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.” 38 Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. 39 David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them [fn]off. 40 He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. 41 Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” 48 Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. 50 Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines [fn]as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. 53 The sons of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their camps. 54 Then David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his weapons in his tent. 55 Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?” And Abner said, “By your life, O king, I do not know.” 56 The king said, “You inquire whose son the youth is.” 57 So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine’s head in his hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”
Exodus 3, Verses 10-14 - Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Who do you see in the mirror day to day? It is important to have a strong sense of self for good mental health. Else we get swept up in our private realities - realities of depression or pessimism, inflated narcissism, manic ego, psychosis OR anxious viewpoints. Our private realities alter how we perceive "me". We can't avoid being taken over by perverted perspectives at times, but we can avoid having it take us down completely. How? We can develop or will naturally have a strong sense of self that overshadows all our other demented sensory views of "me".
When you're in your right mind, remember and ingrain in your mind your strengths. Write them down, imprint them on your forehead. Maybe kindness, or a good sense of humor, maybe good work ethic, being accomplished at certain things, or smarts and common-sense. Always fight to keep those traits apparent when you face yourself in the mirror. Research says the "stubborn and resilient" recover from trauma, so seek to incorporate these 2 traits into your nature. At the very least be stubborn and resilient about keeping your best strengths and traits. Don't let trauma steal from you who you want to be at the core.
From a Biblical perspective, David believed in himself when others did not believe in him - he knew his strengths. So know your strengths. Moses was built up by God and supported by God to perform his duties as prophet, and then he followed through. So follow through on your callings. Jesus proclaimed with confidence His divine status from the very beginning. So let your light shine before other men and women. We should strive in the direction of David, Moses and Jesus even if we are not great like them, for we do have strengths that build God's kingdom. We should not squander any building up or support we get along the way, but use it to strengthen our core attributes and gifts.
We are not only what we see in the mirror, but what others see and most importantly what God sees. All of those aspects of ourselves dictate the small things to big things of being us. What God sees is a sinner, and we always thank Jesus Christ for an opportunity to be seen by God in a cleansing light. John 3:16-21 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Dear God, Thank you for Your Son and Your love for us. When I look in the mirror I see different aspects of myself... sometimes just a person who needs to fix their hairdo or lose another waist size, but also someone who has major strengths and weaknesses. I have certain God given callings and life duties - some more mundane than others, but challenges nonetheless. I can look tired or excited or in-love when I look in the mirror. All of these looks are of one of Your daughters. I am thankful for my stubborn and resilient nature, because when I've lost myself I've often come back even stronger. I always feel more comfortable in the present and future-looking, than in looking back. My life has been one of growth, overcoming one mistake after another. I thank You for Your blessings and patience, and for the reality check You often provide in Your word and in others' criticisms. It is a wonder of Yours that I am alive today and well. May Your glory abide forever and ever. Amen.
Michelle is a woman of depth whose faith has pulled her through some difficult times. She finds beauty and inspiration from life experience and literature, sourced from all ages and walks of life. Michelle seeks to inspire other women in their personal journeys, especially those who struggle. Michelle is also a mental health advocate, writer & engineer. Her other website is www.freemindbooks.com.