by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
Eugene Peterson states that poetry is the voice of prophets. It is subversive because it tricks the audience. They think you’re saying something to someone else (“There was a man who had two sons…”) but you’re really talking about them (Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.’)
Over the years while on retreat or sitting in a coffee room or library I have attempted to write poetry. Someone once said that when we write speeches we argue with each other, but when we write poetry we argue with ourselves. True for me. Here is one of my poems, which I recently dredged up and fiddled with. You should try and write poetry if you haven’t yet. (BTW, I have stuff that rhymes too.)
When is it okay to not have good acoustics?
When you’re listening to Vespers at King’s College Choir, Cambridge.
When is it okay to not have fancy stage lights?
When a single candle burns in a darkened sanctuary.
When is it okay to be silent?
After the burial, walking to the car.
When is it okay to scream and yell at the top of your lungs?
When you’re a fan and it’s a walk-off homer.
When is it okay to cry?
At the very end of Saving Private Ryan – definitely when Ebenezer Scrooge apologizes to his nephew’s wife.
When is it okay to be awake in the wee hours of the morning?
Shuffling in for Vigils or Lauds or rocking a sick child to sleep.
When is it okay to run?
When you’re all alone in the silent sleeping winter woods at midday.
When is it okay to stare?
When you’re alone in the dark looking into the fire, or when she’s your wife.
When is it okay to sink?
After Jesus has called you out of the boat.
When is it okay to die?
Anytime. Anytime at all.
D.C.W. November, 2007, 2015