My heart overflows with a goodly theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
Poetry is not my forte.
That is, I can neither write poetry nor do I often understand it.
Give me a big work of theology, or nonfiction, or fiction and I will plow through the words.
But poetry? No thank you.
Poetry, unlike just about all other writing, is not meant to be consumed quickly.
Poetry takes time.
And so I force myself to read poems out loud and with a slow pace, otherwise I run the risk of leaving the poem no wiser than I was at the beginning.
Lots of scripture is poetic, or at least it’s meant to be received poetically. We are not called to be masters of the text but instead we are called to be servants of the Word.
And that takes time.
Frankly, it’s why we keep returning to the same scriptures year after year because those words reveal to us something about the Word. And when we come closer to the Word we discover more about who we are and whose we are.
A few years ago, while forcing myself through a collection of poems, one jumped out at me. It was so powerful and so moving that I read it over and over not because of a lack of comprehension, but because it was so true.
That poem is below and I encourage you to take the time to read it slowly, read it out loud if you have to, until you can rest in the knowledge that grace really is the fund by which alone we live.
Original Sin by Wendell Berry
Well, anyhow, it preserves us from the pride
of thinking we invented sin ourselves
by our originality, that famous modern power.
In fact, we have it from the beginning
of the world by the errors of being born,
being young, being old, causing pain
to ourselves, to others, to the world, to God
by ignorance, by knowledge, by intention,
by accident. Something is bad the matter
here, informing us of itself, handing down
its old instruction. We know it
when we see it, don’t we? Innocence
would never recognize it. We need it
too, for without it we would not know
forgiveness, goodness, gratitude,
that fund of grace by which alone we live.