A Poem: Heaven

They tell me there is no heaven
on earth.
But I have found pieces
that resemble it
and have put them together
with a bonding agent
made of hope and faith.

And love,
that when the sun strikes it
in a certain way,
the whole picture
comes alight,
as something
from another place.

They tell me there is a heaven
but its not here.
While I am certain that I have
cast out my line
and drawn an ocean like the tide,
or the sky’s blue expanse
around me like a wrap.

They tell me heaven
is far away.
But I think despite what we are warned,
that sometimes we need look into the sun,
rather than away.
Then we might find what we are seeking
holds us in its gaze.

And as the sea reflects the blue sky
so that on a perfect day
we can’t see a defined edge,
so heaven is imaged
in our humanness,
and our glory
mixed in
with the earth’s.

Ana Lisa de Jong
October 2017

Image:  Tolagoa Bay, East Cape, NZ

A Poem: Beauty

Beauty falls like rain,
we can’t catch every drop,
but we stand still with mouths open
to slack our aching thirst.

Beauty grows like leaves
on the greening tree,
we try to grasp the outline
of each stunning leaf but can’t.

Our eyes can only take in so much.

Beauty rolls in like waves
on a beach awash with driftwood,
we can’t contain the blue sky that frames our sight,
we can’t trace each shape of silver wood.

But the rain falls,
and the leaves keep turning on the trees,
and one wave follows the next,
even when we’re not present to witness.

The mountains still stand
and the kereru sing in the bush
though there are no ears to listen.
Beauty is for beauty’s sake alone.

And if we happen to capture it,
we can consider ourselves thrice blessed.
By beauty, the God who gifted it,
and not least for being given the eyes to see.

We can take a breath of gratitude and relief.
It will be here,
when we are once again in sight of it.
It will not have left.

Ana Lisa de Jong
October 2017

Image: East Cape, New Zealand

A Poem: Incomplete II

If

we are all shadows on this earth.

If we pass away in a breath,
and dissolve like water
at the end of our life’s breadth,
but for our spirits…

If

we are all shadows,

then what do we build, that has any worth?
What do we make that we can keep?
What has eternal value
in a world of impermanence?

If

we are shadows,

then there is a light
behind and beyond us,
that defines our outline.
That casts us into a form that we can recognise.

If

we are shadows

then we together
make a picture of what is to come.
We are the drawing board
for a master design still to be outworked.

If

we are shadows

then there is something of substance
that marks out our outline on the wall.
Our spirits live, while our
bodies wane with each breath we draw.

So what do we build, that has any worth?
That lasts beyond this time and place.
If we are His church, of which the walls
will one day fall away,

then I wonder if it might be
our body and our hands,
indwelt by His spirit
that make up the building and the roof.

And will remain when all else dissolves like shadows,
at the end of the day.

Ana Lisa de Jong
October 2017

Image:  Pinterest

“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
Hebrews 10:13

“….for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
Psalm 103:14

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Matthew 24:35

A Poem: Incomplete

Everything
is incomplete Lord.
We live with things in perpetual suspense.

Like curtains open a chink
to let in the light,
so we see yet just a partial glimpse.

We live with things unresolved,
each moment a different state
of growth or decay, increase or decline.

We have a hand in creating things
that will one day dissolve
in the hands that made them.

We have dreams and longings that
are still seeds to be planted,
in a ground yet to be prepared.

We are limited in our vision and perspective
and resistant to the things
which must of necessity conclude.

And we are so impatient
at things to start, or heal or mend,
for things to reach fruition.

For prayers to be answered.
in the way we understand or expect
as though God were at our bidding,

and subject to the  demands
of our wills and hearts.
But praise God He is not limited to our vision.

For where we see a chink of light
he sees the whole vista,
and where we hold a seed, he sees a tree at its full height.

Yes, if he can wait, then so can we.
And we can remember in letting go,
that one season leads on to the next.

And our palms can only hold so much,
at once.
The rest decomposes to become mulch and seed.

Ana Lisa de Jong
October 2017

Image: Steinar Engeland, courtesy of Unsplash


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”
Ephesians 3:20

“Don’t put a full-stop where God has put a comma.”
Anon

A Poem: Pray without Ceasing

I fall asleep to my petitions,
and wake with praise on my lips
and the sense
of something turned around,
as I slept.

“I make all things new”, He says.
Just like the sun,
on a new day is the same
but rises clothed afresh
in a thousand
different shades.

Just as the sun
makes its return
to us while our eyes
seek the closure of night,
so God works while we’re yet unaware
to make something new in our sight.

As colours spread across a morning sky
branch in each direction,
and point the way,
so He lies our options out like a feast
against the glory of the day.

Ana Lisa de Jong
September 2017

Image: Authors own and the sunrise that inspired this poem.

A Poem: Dark

What do you want me to do with this morning God?
That shines through the blinds
that shines through my shuttered heart

What do I do with a sun that still rises?
On us, whose joy wavers as a candle in the wind,
on those, whose joy has for a moment, been snuffed out.

What do we do with fear that lurks at the edges?
As dark clouds that threaten to bring more rain
as though we hadn’t yet had enough, of the dark.

Yet the sun rises
shedding all vestiges of where she has been,
illuminating the shadows to reveal them as naught

but things that take on power in the absence of the light.
Things that have always been,
but that we too can brush off, at the arrival of the dawn.

For hope and love too, have always been,
and resilience and prayer, and hearts
that constantly strive for good.

What do we do with this morning God?
That shines through the blinds,
and breaks apart our shuttered hearts.

We rise like the sun,
and we shed our light into the dark.

Ana Lisa de Jong
October 2017

(Written after the concert shooting in Las Vegas)

Image: Luca Bravo (Maui, Hawaii), courtesy of Unsplash

A Poem: Turn-Points

We don’t always know which road to take,

although we perceive your face at every bend.
The way unclear, slowly reveals
to our eyes, so slow to discern,

that which-ever option we choose to take,
even that of staying put,
you always wait for us with utmost courtesy.

As though we didn’t have time to make up.
As though the world weren’t awaiting us to act
(as though to act were always the answer).

And as we stand at the pivot point,
of left, and right, advance and retreat,
we come to understand our goals might be different to yours.

Maybe the outcome, and our destinations
are not nearly so important as the truth that you wait just ahead,
that you might walk with us wherever we turn.

Ana Lisa de Jong
September 2017

Image: Wander the Woods, Martin Timmann

A Poem: September

New leaves, lavender stems,
buds on the climbing rose, dew on the grass,
lit by the sun emerging from a sky of soft blue,
as eggshell, or a newborn’s gaze.

I see all this as something all of a sudden new,
unveiled to eyes that had winter’s blinkers on.
How long had the yellow spring rose been bursting its buds so tight?
And when did all the trees regain their leaves?

The grass has taken on a new shade of ripest green
while the sun’s caress now bears my arms and legs,
to feel its growing warmth upon my skin.
Skin that feels as new as the season.

I shed my winter’s ills and a mind that thinks in past tense,
and take hold of the promise that we are given,
at the beginning of a new day,
new season, year or passageway.

Whoever said death was the last word,
has never seen his temple against a wide sky,
or worshipped at the altar of this earth,
where his glory is reflected in fragments that we can receive.

Yes, this spring speaks to me of life.
The earth grows ever old as it spins on its axis,
while the universe is expanding all the time;
and there are new leaves on the old wood of my Hydrangea plants.

Yes God is seen in both the great and the small.
And His gift to us is always life.
Though the earth might circle the sun a million more times,
or it may not; life will not grow old, but renews itself.

Ana Lisa de Jong
September 2017

 

A Poem: Gift

It is my job as a poet seer,
as one who feels before I see
to find the words, even if it hurts.

To carry the light into dark corners.
To bring the word that turns the heart,
the word that speaks into the barren centre

that it might spring to life.

We are each given life
to turn it from more than a spark,
to draw from it a forest fire.

All of us, are given the means to
grow the gifts we have received.
And they are not for us, never for us;

but we are blessed through their practice.

What brings life to others
charges us at our own core.
We live in the stream, when we are living who we truly are.

It is my job to follow my unravelling pen.
Just as its yours to draw the glory that you see;
to move heaven and earth in prayer

or lay out a table for your friends, and your enemies.

To turn compassion into action,
to bandage up and heal.
To express the love that is your reason, in the way you are designed.

We are each of us His
and He becomes revealed to the extent that
we express His heart through our gifts.

Yes, it is my job, even if it hurts
to faithfully draw images with my words.
To bring to birth again and again the

new thing He wants to do.

We have a vocation,
each a calling and to find it is to
follow the stream to the source.

To put out our clay jars
and watch them fill
that we might pour them out

Into the world.

Ana Lisa de Jong
September 2017
Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash
 

A Poem: The Road

I was afraid
that the road was too narrow.
That myself and my load
could not together pass.

Then I was afraid
it might in fact be too wide.
That I would turn in circles
and miss the landmarks.

I was afraid
it might at times give out.
That what I believed was a road
was instead a track to naught.

I was afraid to walk.
Afraid to point others
to this road or that,
as right.

Had I not thought that roads
were a path to follow?
That they needed strict observance
to a map.

But then in relief
I felt my heart held ,
in hands that were
both loose and tight.

My gracious guide
revealed the road was not
a maze that we must in earnest
navigate.

It is a way of life.
A relaxing into arms that bear us up.
Where-ever the road takes me,
He is at my feet and side.

Ana Lisa de Jong
August 2018

Image:  Monet, Path to Path at Pourville, 1882.

“For I will bring them from the north
and from earth’s farthest ends,
not forgetting their blind and lame,
young mothers with their little ones,
those ready to give birth.
It will be a great company who comes.
Tears of joy shall stream down their faces,
and I will lead them home with great care.
They shall walk beside the quiet streams and not stumble.
For I am a Father to Israel.”
Jeremiah 31:8-9