A Poem: Up Ahead

(For Jeff Blake, my dear Uncle Carrick and all who we have lost, but not really)

I think like all that’s good,
you’re just up ahead,

to remind us

the net of goodness,
great web of grace,

the eternal embrace,
extends back.

Strengthening us at our girth,
and accompanying us forward.

Great grace,
not just for now and this present moment,

but for yesterday’s pain,
and tomorrows promise.

I like to think,
that from where you sit,

the boundaries are wide
and far-reaching beyond our sight.

And that within this encompassment,
somewhere, we all exist.

All our frailties undergirded,
and our missteps made right

by a grace that transforms us
through its gaze.

Yes, in this embrace of goodness,
great web of grace,

our place I think
is certain.

The one whose heart of love
contains the world,

has spread his net,
enfolding us as his own.

Yes I like to think you see all that,
from up ahead

and somehow make it known.

Ana Lisa de Jong
May 2018

Photo: Carol Haines

A Poem: Watchperson

I wake up,
watchperson for the morning.
Would the morning’s bird call
be the less for being unheeded,
or the rising sun
stop in its tracks for lack of welcome.

No, but if I wake
the morning sheaves,
the harvest of my heart
are gathered,
and I hold them in my arms
the rest of the day.

It’s not the world that is less
for our lack of notice,
but like a smile offered
as we turn and leave a room,
so we can miss the gifts
that greet, and follow us.

Our sheaves wilted
before they’re gathered in.

Ana Lisa de Jong
May 2018

Photo:  Courtesy of Emma Hepburn

‘I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.’
Psalm 130:6

A Poem: Silence

Silence.

Have you heard all the sounds
silence holds?

Cessation of movement,
stillness of mind.

The ceasing of all efforts
reveals a door

hitherto closed,
and shielded from view.

In silence,
we open

as a musical note does
to the one who calls it out.

In silence,
we feel

the blossoming urge of a tight bud,
the burning need to bloom.

Ears tuned to a different register,
we note

a swift beat of wings,
a mounting chord.

And we realise, with new clarity
that silence holds a thousand sounds.

Echoes from elsewhere
but which we recognise as our own.

Notes that ring out shrill
as the flute,

or soft as a strummed harp
in gentle hands.

Tones in which we hear the birds,
and the sea,

and the sound of our own hearts
meeting our shore.

And the language we discern,
though one we cannot translate,

is understood the same
as any audible voice.

Yes, that we might hear the sounds
silence holds.

That we might still ourselves
to open the door.

Ana Lisa de Jong
May 2018

A Poem: How to Follow a Poem

Watch how the sun rises.
First the tip of the clouds turn pink, and then gold
on a horizon.
Something happens to our hearts,
the leap of expectation.

The birds seem to know to fly
at this time.
Each soaring figure outlined
against the sky
as black ink etched in the vision.

Watch how the branches
of each tree move to the wind’s tune.
How the face of the leaves
catch the hues of a rising sun.
How all of nature appears to bid dawn welcome.

Watch how the rainbow just came and went
before there was a chance to register it.
Before we could trace its colours
against the blue,
how it faded and then exited.

A poem is followed
with the same pattern of observation.
We don’t consider the words in an
individual sense as
respond to the scene as a whole.

Something happens
when we stop trying to understand
but just watch.
The great artist has a brush, and is
painting impressions on our hearts and minds.

We see them with eyes
that feel rather than perceive.
Shapes felt in the hands
as objects in the dark.
Every now and then a shock of recognition.

But mostly just a welcome,
and an indwelling presence.

Ana Lisa de Jong
April 2018

 

A Poem: Life

Try putting a stop to life
It rises again in dawn’s burning fire.
In our dancing planet that turns

and spins into the light.

It’s confirmed in each season’s return
of new life and birth
and in each departing term,

revolving through a door.

Try putting a stop to the seed,
that is formed in such a hidden state,
that its flourishing bloom is always a surprise.

But then not, at all.

Try putting a stop to the leaves,
as they fall, and disperse
and feed the next seasons growth.

Energy that’s shared in the breaking down.

Try putting a stop to life.
Circles forever forming.
As the pebble thrown in a lake

its ripples ever widening.

Ana Lisa de Jong
April 2018

Photo:  Carol Haines

A Poem: To Unravel

When we unravel
we can find in the strangest way,
we are taking shape.

A shape we couldn’t see
when wound up tight in a ball
all contained.

But if we unravel,
pull a thread and watch it unfurl,
dangerously loose,

we might find
it falls as its meant.
A picture to speak a thousand words.

A picture that reveals
in our unravelled form,
we’re more beautiful than we thought.

Are more valuable than we had guessed,
or had forgotten we were
before life caused us to hoard our treasure.

Yes, when we unravel
its as though a muscle memory comes back
to remind us of our strength.

We’re to never fear the unfurling,
or the pain that begs
a question

to find an answer in
the twirling,
dancing thread.

The shape it makes when it lands
we recognise,
as an old friend returned.

‘Could it be’, we hear ourselves ask,
‘that we have always been
what we imagined.’

Ana Lisa de Jong
May 2018

A Poem: And Then

And then
morning came.

The clouds changed,
their ragged edges
lit with light.

The hues of dawn
took over the sky,
as a lover’s encompassment.

And the seasons turned.

Summer’s heat
gave way to Autumn’s chill,
as a cool palm to the forehead.

Winter’s covering
lifted at the corners
as Spring spread out her banquet.

And then
my soul lifted.

The arrival of dawn,
and its reminder
of constant beginnings,

my own heart’s
recurring remembrance
of the grace that restores.

And then.

The knowledge that
there’s always a then,
is the certain hope to which we hold.

The key with which
we turn the lock,
that would otherwise keep us in the dark.

And then,
look.

We look again
and the sun has risen.
The world has restored

in its constant turning.

Ana Lisa de Jong
May 2018

A Poem: Waiting

Some say we must strive for what it is
that we want.

Some say we must first of all know what it is,
then set our goals,
and lay our plans for achievement.

Some say nothing good ever came
from standing by, and waiting.

Some say only those who attempt succeed,
and only those who show
can play the game.

I say, maybe, that is true.
In certain respects effort has its reward.

But I say, the measurement of success
might be more a faith
in our unfolding.

Rest and trust in what is
stirring in our hearts and minds.

Carrying out a holy work
as witness to things growing yet
in the dark.

Building an inner world,
to be mirrored in the exterior.

Finding out who first we are,
so we might recognise what is ours
when it arrives.

As arrive it will.
Whoever heard of a prayer without an answer.

Whoever heard of one
who didn’t harbour a gift somewhere,
to be harnessed.

Yes, I say we are tools still in the making.
In a craft shop whose orders have come in.

I shall sit and wait in trust.
Will you join me in the wings.
Life will bid us enter when our turn comes round.

Ana Lisa de Jong
April 2018

 

A Poem: Passage to Life

Pain is a doorway.
A birth canal.
We ache and contract
to bear forth something new.

Tears,
the anointing of our travails,
work to soften
and open the way forward.

Rivers run
with a mountain’s burden of snow.
Melting at the
touch of warmth.

And we, without realising it,
transform our pain
by bearing down
upon it.

Pain is a path,
a passageway to life.
Everything that ever grew
first pushed its way out.

Life insists we evolve.
Pain, the propelling force
for change
ensures our growth.

The tree that
first burst its seed’s protective shell,
grows up and
breaks new ground.

And any gains we make,
that can be weighed
and found
to be of any worth,

are born out of
travail and pressure,
and darkness
that gives way to light.

Ana Lisa de Jong
April 2018
 

A Poem: Even If

Even if.
Even if we should fear.

Fear the things we cannot control.
Fear those things that

are only influenced
by discernment and faith.

Let us do what
we can.

For its not by power
and might,

but by gentleness,
that we exert any good.

Yes even if.
Even if we should fear.

Let us fear only those tings
that might paralyse our attempts

at doing whatever it is,
that is right.

For its not by coercion or retreat
that we can affect any kind of difference

but by faith
that expresses itself through love.

Faith which does not fear the risks
of our involvement

as much as the results
of our neglect.

So even if.
Even if we should fear.

May we trust the momentum
of a love that requires our following.

Trust our hearts that take a leap
before they count the cost.

For nothing worthwhile was ever gained
by letting fear decide for us.

So let.
Let us love.

Though all might point
to our defeat.

No-one has determined yet
all that is achieved

through faith,
that works through love.

Ana Lisa de Jong
April 2018