Two Poems of Wonder

This week, I’m sharing two little poems of mine (and I don’t claim to be a poet.)  The first is from a recent excursion with my parents to Rhododendron Sate Park, here in New Hampshire.  The second was written a few days later.  To all poets (official and unofficial) out there: Please share your observations, suggestions, and advice for improvement – thank you!

(Photos taken by my father.)


In the Rhododendron Forest

Rhododendron State Park, New Hampshire, forest

Embrace me in your beauty, Lord!

As I am sheltered, here,

within the blossoming bower,

let me know your love.

Thick leaves arching overhead,

on wild wood from tangled roots

in forest golden-brown;

white petals glimpsed through latticed-light

above, or fallen whole upon the ground.

Resting here in the quiet,

I wait for you, my Lord

and you do not disappoint…

I see you in the peace and hear you in the joy,

I linger in the loveliness within and all around.

 

When I’m come through this long and winding

wonder-passage of shade and green,

out into the brightness of the other side,

Embrace me in your beauty, Lord!

Your heaven’s delight of endless awe

surpassing earth’s imagining,

beyond the twigs and moss of time,

beyond

the loveliness I leave behind

that’s yours, O Lord… not mine.

Rhododendrons, flowers

© 2017 Christina Chase


My Life Is

wheelchair, forest, New Hampshire

 

My life is small,

tiny,

a grain of sand,

gritty and glittering;

a drop of dew,

globular weight and wonder,

cool and wet upon the green palm of time,

until…

it slips

from its leafy mooring,

form shattered,

essence absorbed

into the wider deep…

seen no more… but known.

 

My life is a wonder-passage,

a winged seed in flight,

a caterpillar taking up

the promised glory

bite

by little

bite.

© 2017 Christina Chase


Photo Credits: 

Embracing Beauty, © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

Rhododendrons, © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

Into the Woods, © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

Beauty Hunger

I have always been drawn to beauty, as bees are called to nectar and deserts thirst for rain.  When I was an atheist, I found delight in the beauty of the natural world – which I would never have called God’s Creation, but only Earth or universe.  As a believing Christian, I now experience the beauty of the created world in a more personal and exquisitely intimate way, with true joy, as profound gift and Mystery.

life of pix,, tulips

 

Our Creator does not create with rigid rationing, but, rather, with generosity and full exuberance: 1000 seeds to bear one fruit tree, 1 million spermatozoa to bear one human being, 1 billion rocky planets to bear one earth…

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Politics and the Human Person

For whom do I vote? That is the question. As an independent voter in New Hampshire, with presidential primaries around the corner, it’s a very pressing question.

I am so grateful for what I have – especially right now with my dad recovering well from two surgeries and my undauntable mother giving her all – and happy with my life and home. But, that’s not enough. Self-centeredness is sin. I must consider my neighbors and their well-being, too. Are they suffering from some great unfairness? Are there starving people whom I could help or people who are in danger of being killed whom I could save? I cannot sit content with my own little lot, ignoring the plight of others. If there is something that we, as a society, can do together to help someone in need, then we should do it. And, reasonably, helping those who are vulnerable will help me when I am vulnerable, too. For much of the goodness of my life is safeguarded by a society that addresses the needs of the disabled – like me.

But, the goodness itself comes from God.

religious-liberty-900-300x191

Nobody can guarantee happiness for anybody else. No government can solve every problem of the governed. We are created to seek the good and we create governments to help safeguard our right to seek it. Human rights are given by God, not the government – and no legitimate government can take them away. In the democratic republic of the United States, it is the responsibility of the people to vote to ensure that our government does what it should do and does not do what it should not do.

I was raised with a sense of civic responsibility. I will definitely be voting in Tuesday’s presidential primary. But, for whom will I vote… well, I, like so many of us in New Hampshire, am still undecided. I don’t consider myself a member of either the Democratic or Republican parties – I don’t want to be a member of any party. I’m an independent.

And I have no candidate.

It doesn’t help that I am both proenvironment and pro-life. Why don’t these two things go together in politics? I really don’t understand. If I want to protect all wildlife and natural habitats, if I am passionately against destruction and waste, then shouldn’t I also want to protect all human life, passionately defending people from being dehumanized and killed? And, yet, I so often have great difficulty in finding a candidate who shares my passion. Someone who doesn’t want government and paid employees to become more important and relevant than charities and volunteers. Someone who knows that the willingness to pay higher taxes isn’t the same as loving kindness for the person next to you. Someone who understands that the definition of a human person should not be based upon appearances or levels of dependency and ability.

It would also be nice to have someone who truly appreciates the value of every dollar, isn’t conceited, is brave and honest, and doesn’t fall into petty bickering and party politics.

But now I really ask too much.

If you have a candidate that you are passionately supporting, then you could probably tell me exactly how your candidate fits all that I need. But, you really can’t. No one person can fulfill my every need for a leader. That is why our society isn’t comprised of just one leader. Different parts of society look after different needs, like families, religious organizations, neighborhood communities, governments (local, state, and federal) and charities. They each have an important role to play, just as we each have an important role to play. That’s my very basic understanding of the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. (It’s way more complex than that, but, basically, if your elderly neighbor needs her driveway shoveled, shovel it if you can, or get your kids or grandkids to do it. This will not only be good for her driveway, but also good for her heart and soul – and yours, and your kids’, and your grandkids’. For those elderly people who are snowed in and don’t have good neighbors or family members, come together with your community to work out a program to fulfill their needs. Volunteers will be best. Legislated programs with paid employees should only be last resort.)

faithful citizenship

usccb.org

 

Anyway…

A national president is very important. But, we should never let everything ride on him or her. That would not be good governing – I think both parties can agree on that. But, I guess I really wouldn’t know. I’m not a party person (in more ways than one, she said with a smirk.)

This is what I comfort myself with when I have great difficulty picking a presidential candidate. All that I can do is the best that I can, staying as true as I can to my conscience. I’m not deciding the fate of the world with this vote. But… in the living of my day-to-day life, I should be more conscious of the consequences of my actions on my family, my neighbors, as well as my town, my state, my nation, and my world. We’re all in this together.

© 2016 Christina Chase

Autumn Leaves

(This little verse, which I originally wrote quite a few years ago, has a perspective on autumn foliage that is different from last week’s poem…)

Autumn leaves grasp
the colors of the rising sun
to mask the fact
that they are dying,
that their lives are nearly done.

Masquerading
in blushing crimsons,
empassioned ambers,
and glowing gold,
while their life’s blood
is leaving them
dry,
they seem to flaunt as they deny
what fate will unfold.

For they are too ephemeral,
too weak to last;
Death will seize them
in the dark and chill
of winter’s blast.

Yet, for a moment,
painted complexion
in bright reflection
warms the surface
of cooling waters deep;
And nothing seems as beautiful,
glorious and bountiful,
as leaves of Autumn trying not to weep.

photo credit: Dan Chase

photo credit: Dan Chase

Reposted from The Writings of Christina Chase

© 2014 Christina Chase

Sugar Maple in Autumn

The glory has just begun. The light of the inner sun radiates within every leaf, shining pale green at the heart and, growing bolder, the golden fire glowing more intensely as it spreads wide and high, out to the furthest reach, flames smolder at tips of fingers, orange praise against the hard blue sky.

Too good for this world…

A soul transfigured by heavenly rays, rising up, trembling in brightness – it must burst with life and break through to the other side… beyond fading, beyond dimness, to everlasting light!

Worn remnants

of earthly splendor left

to fall,

in heavy sighs

and whispered

goodbyes.

© 2015 Christina Chase

The Essence of the Ascension – Weird and Wonderful

Okay, it’s true, Catholics believe some radical things. Take the Ascension, for one. We profess that Jesus not only rose from the dead, but also went bodily to a supernatural place that we call Heaven. His risen body is glorified, we believe, able to eat, walk, withstand probing, and all the other things that a normal body can do – but also able to pass through walls and bear a deadly wound without death or bleeding. And, now, Jesus, in all that he is, both human and divine, abides bodily… somewhere… some where that isn’t exactly here… or there… somewhere from which he will return… somewhere which we hope to be. This is the Catholic Christian faith. And it does rather seem all too fantastic to be true.

But, then again, have you heard about quarks? Dark matter? Dark energy? The world which we take to be solid and true is too wonderful to comprehend in its entirety or even in the entirety of its smallest part… for what is its smallest part? We would know nothing of the existence of, say, subatomic particles if a privileged few people hadn’t “seen” them and then told us about them. Tales of whitedwarfs and blackholes sound like mere tall tales indeed, but the small percentage of our population, called scientists, are intelligent and fervent in their telling of them. And we accept. We have not seen the proof and, even if we did, most of us would not be able to understand the “proof” – but, we believe.

Life is profoundly complex and marvelously weird. We would be arrogant to think that everything in existence can fit into our limited brains. There is so much more than what we know, so much more than what we can imagine…. The myriad clusters of stars and sweep of galaxies in the night sky are as beautiful to my eyes as the exuberant profusion of blue forget-me-nots in the garden beneath my window. Sometimes, I may think that the superabundance of suns and planets in the universe renders the specially-intended and divinely-loved existence of human beings into a myth. Yet… is it a myth, a fairytale, that the superabundance of apple blossoms blooming only rarely yield forth a tree? From countless seeds come not countless plants – all that is required, all that is hoped for, is but one. DSCN8106This is how God creates. For this is how God loves. Profusely, limitless, overgenerous in creative exuberance and abundant forgiveness… what goodness there is now is only the smallest part of what will be.

So, yes, I believe. Jesus, our savior and Lord, is fully where he promised to be, where he will call us to join him one day. Although we may not know “where” that is, we know the way… the way of pure and self-giving love without limits. Just so, though we may not know the exact purpose and workings of the plethora of stars and flowers, we know the beauty… the wonder and awe-inspiring beauty of life…

– of life loved exuberantly into being.

© 2015 Christina Chase

The Navajos and Saint Patrick

Unknown to each other, unheard of in distance of time, their two lands with what might as well be a universe than an ocean between them, men with spiritual eyes and spiritual ears walked the selfsame way of pilgrimage.  From the Navajos (as retold by Joseph Campbell):

Oh beauty before me, beauty behind me,

beauty to the left of me, beauty to the right of me,

beauty above me, beauty below me,

I’m on the pollen path.

From a prayer, known as the breastplate of Saint Patrick:

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.…

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today…

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.

I’m on the pollen path.

All beauty, all truth, leads to the One, the Godhead, the Divine Logos through Whom all things are made.  Through nature, through poetry and art, Divinity speaks life to the human heart.

“Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky. . . question all these realities. All respond: “See, we are beautiful.” Their beauty is a profession.  These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One who is not subject to change?”  (St. Augustine.)

Greeted by the Navajo and the ancient people of Ireland, the Holy Other flickers through firelight, shimmers in dew, whispers through the heart of blossoming.  The Beautiful One came down and assumed human nature to weep tears of blood for flowers eternal, to tenderly touch the face of the humble pilgrim with knees pressed into the earth.  So, with spirit ear pressed to the heart of Creation, the Source may be intimately known.  Friend.  Brother.  Savior.

A man called Patrick shared this love with those who had enslaved him and, by his witness to the fullness of Beauty Revealed, set his captors free.

We’re on the pollen path.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.