Poet’s Corner: Agency, Chapel of the Transfiguration, Come Together, The Big Nothing — and more

Here is the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.

Agency

What does it mean to be the salt of the earth?
Salt is a preservative.
It is used for seasoning and with healing.
Salt is a helping agent.

What does it mean to be the leaven?
Leaven makes the bread rise.
It softens the bread and makes it more digestible.
Leaven is a helping agent.

What does it mean to be the light for the world?
Without the light,
we stumble around in the dark.
Light is a helping agent.

If you are the salt of the earth,
the light for the world, and the leaven,
you are a gift to the earth.
It has nothing to do with heaven.
You are a helping agent
by making the world—this world—a better place.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

Chapel of the Transfiguration

The first thing I saw was the constellation of houseflies
on the Chapel of the Transfiguration window blocking the grandeur
of the Cathedral Group with Grand Teton in the center.
The fly was the filthiest of creatures to my fastidious eye.
I was offended at first: the sacred was marred by the profane.
so I stepped outside the log church to see
the majesty of the mountains beneath the blue canopy
without the pious interference of human hands.

That was sixty-two years ago. I’ve had a rethink.
God is not captured, domesticated, and confined
to churches, but is alive in every created thing.
Without a nature-based spirituality, the word profane
means outside the temple. Are we fish looking for water?
And why do we argue about who owns the water?

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

Come Together

Come together, people of faith,
from the farthest corners of the earth,
from faith traditions round the world—
come together to honor the worth
of every person from birth to death.

Come together, come together!

For you without your daily bread
who sleeps with stars overhead,
we offer hope—be not afraid.
A better future lies ahead;
people of faith are by your side.

Come together, come together!

People of faith call for justice
in politics, law, the marketplace
where greed and malice are commonplace.
People of faith will never allow
that every person has a price.

Come together, come together!

Come together, people of faith,
from the farthest corners of the earth,
from faith traditions round the world.
Unity of faith is a force for good;
universal tenets are understood.

Come together, come together!

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

The Big Nothing

What happens to the indigenous peoples
living in someone else’s promised land?
We never know because they are slaughtered

or erased forever as a culture.
Nothing to see here—
their story is a big nothing.

Historians connect the dots of known events
across white silences of ruined chronicles
forever mute.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

The Body and Its Desires

for Matthew Arnold

The gods consume nectar and ambrosia on Olympus
and amuse themselves by looking down on us
dispassionately. Cool detachment is a sardonic business.
Hellenism insists we see things as they are.
For right thinking, the body and its desires are a barrier;
we are cautioned to keep the mind completely clear.

Hebraism counters that the body and its desires
are a barrier to right action. The Lord requires
clarity of thought chastened by strictness of conscience.
The principal rubric of the Law is studied obedience
to the will of God. The Lord has a vertical presence—
aloof except to chastise with corrective fires.

In the time it takes a Sierra redwood in the ageing
of two thousand rings, many gods have come
and gone in the public square. Further, we become
weary of our own fungible ground of being—
the dreary march of certainties by which we cling—
as we amble toward the dust from which we came.

More crucial over the years than definitions of the divine
are behavioral tendencies toward either thought
or action when it comes to the body and its desires.
The tension between Athens and Jerusalem defines
every age, and will continue, like it or not,
to shape our every outcome of action or thought.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

Love is a Twofer

Love is a twofer.
When you say you are in love
or you assert the aphorism, God is love,
you infer duality.

God is the subject
and [something] is the object.
The something is the world
and all its inhabitants.

There is no love without the lover and the loved,
without the me and the you,
without one or the other.

Have you ever experienced love?
You will then understand the Sufi maxim,
You are the mirror in which
God sees himself.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

The White Christ

Red-bearded, blood-soaked Thor faced off
against the white Christ
at the end of the first millennium.

Icelanders had to choose.
For the pagans, white stood for cowardice,
but the heavy hand of King Olaf

forced a deal the pagan holdouts
could not refuse.
The second millennium is in the past already.

The state supports the old white Christ,
but attendance is low in the state church.
Icelanders go through the cafeteria line

and select their religion.
Bureaucrats record their preferences.
It’s all very low energy.

There won’t be a saga-worthy single combat
between the white Christ
and some adversary in the future.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

The Alpha and Omega of Gratitude

Giving thanks in your heart is the alpha of gratitude.
Gratitude is the sum of what you sense and say.
Remembering to offer your thanks is the omega of gratitude.

Longing for things you lack is a flawed attitude.
Always be thankful for what you have today.
Feeling grateful in your heart is the alpha of gratitude.

Do not devalue the goods you currently hold.
What you have today was only hoped for yesterday.
Remembering to offer your thanks is the omega of gratitude.

Lust for things puts you in an anxious mood.
You’ll find your happiness in the persons you most enjoy.
Giving thanks in your heart is the alpha of gratitude.

The lives of those you love will increase in magnitude
as you count your blessings and walk with them in the Way.
Remembering to offer your thanks is the omega of gratitude.

The ungrateful person is one who journeys in solitude.
Appreciation is the greatest kindness, far and away.
Giving thanks in your heart is the alpha of gratitude.
Remembering to offer your thanks is the omega of gratitude.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dave Baldwin retired in 2017 from the Walt Disney Company after more than 40 years as a technical writer and editor. He lives in Lake Stevens.

 

 

 

  1. Hi- I’m trying to locate the photographer of the photo posted of the poem about the Chapel of the Transfiguration by David Baldwin 7/22/23. I want to buy the print. Can you help

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