Friday, August 29, 2014

In the beginning: Overture, a poem


Overture
by Mary Harwell Sayler

In the beginning,
You came to us, Lord.

In the beginning, You

breathed

into us Your Breath
of Life –

Spirit Life.

In the beginning,
You created heaven
and earthy
delights
in Your Love.

You divided
the dispirited darkness.
from the Light
where You dwell.


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

“Overture” first appeared in the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

If you would like an autographed copy, send the name you want the book addressed to and $20 (includes mailing at book rate) in U.S. funds to Mary Sayler, P.O. Box 62, Lake Como, FL 32157, or order from Amazon below:

Outside Eden, paperback





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Divine Cardiology

by Mary Harwell Sayler

Love pours
from the veins,

rushes through
blood cells
parting a red sea.

Your infusing love
transfuses me,
induces me
to come home:

In God’s heart are
many chambers.




© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “Divine Cardiology” appears in the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Outside Eden, paperback





Thursday, July 10, 2014

What has Jesus ever done for you?


For You,


I turned water into wine, purified in the veins
of My own body. I climbed mountains, healed
crowds of hunger, warmed a leper’s skin. For
you I chastised leaders, halted stones, wrote on
the ground each word contained in Love.

I overturned unfair prices and low wages, tabled
discussions about who’s first or last, and enjoyed
the most unlikely company.

Before My execution, I tamed a donkey, became
your beast of burden, then bled from every pore.

Once for all, I buried death, and, when I arose,
some saw Me. Some heard Me as I broke through
the veil, cloaking time and eternity, and, yes,
for you, I’d do it all again. Amen.



© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved; please do not use without my permission. “For You” closes the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Outside Eden, paperback





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

God and a child save Moses


Bravado
by Mary Harwell Sayler

What a beautiful baby brother you have
to hide among the reeds along the river
where you’ve seen Pharaoh’s daughter
bathe, splashing water against her kind
kohl-lined eyes. You’ve noticed her before,
haven’t you, Miriam, as you’ve gone outdoors
to play? Did you watch her as you gathered
papyrus reeds to waterproof and weave
into a tiny ark, like Noah’s, or a miniature
of an Egyptian riverboat? Did you wait for
an opportunity to float by like the basket
your mother thrust among the rushes with
the infant Moses snug inside?

When your mother rushed home, empty-
armed in anguish, you stayed behind to see
what would happen along the river’s edge.
Oh, what courage it took for you to talk to
Pharaoh’s daughter! And how clever of you
to ask if she'd like a Hebrew nurse to tend
the baby taken from the Nile. With her
permission, you brought your own mother
to take care of your brother, but who would
have thought a princess would pay you to
take him home awhile? Who would expect
the timely act of you, a child, to extract an
exiled people from the mouth of the crocodile?


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “Bravado” first appeared in a summer 2011 post on Catholic Lane and has been included in the new book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Outside Eden, paperback






Monday, June 9, 2014

Title poem for Outside Eden


Outside Eden
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Away from the flaming torches,
everything grows dark.

Does God
never
want me near?


I turn back to look,
but angels loom,
and sparks drip from wings
as though they’re bleeding.

I hear a lion roar.

Is this called fear?

I do not know what I can eat now –
every berried bite a potential toxin,
waiting to take hold.

I don’t know where or when to sleep,
but I drop down, exhausted,
hoping the serpent
won’t coil around my ear.


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “Outside Eden” opens the new book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Outside Eden, paperback








Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Christmas greeting from angels, messengers of God


Greetings!

In God's presence
angels stand,
awaiting the command
to speak again the word –
the heavenly message
they have heard:

Fear not.
God is with you.

Fear not.
God is.

Fear not.
Let fear be broken.

Fear not.
The Lord has spoken.


©1998, ©2013 by Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. The poem, which depicts the Virgin Mary’s encounter with the Angel Gabriel, originally appeared in my chapbook, Saints Alive, Now & Then, now out of print, and in my book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.



Monday, November 4, 2013

Parable of the Sower: a prose poem


The Parable of the Sower
by Mary Harwell Sayler
Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20; Luke 8:5-15

"A farmer went out to sow,"
and some say he was stupid or careless or wasteful with the seed, which he let fall all over the just and unjust. Some of the seeds clung like stick-tights – hitchhiker seeds that stuck tightly for centuries until inspiring Swiss naturalist George de Mestral to invent Velcro – sticky seeds that produced weeds like burdock known for medicinal purposes and sometimes purposely planted as a vegetable to be eaten or treated like the sunflower family to which burdock belongs.

"Some seed fell on hard ground" –
paths too often taken to be open to anything new. Some fell on stone, sliding off in rain or finding a crack to sink into then growing roots strong enough to split a rock, which is not easy. Some of the seeds settled into nestling soil so good for growing that thorns liked it, too, and rose up – tall, crowded, dense, and as overwhelming as fear or worry and as brightly colored as almost anything urgent. But some seeds found a fine place to light, take root, bear fruit, and feed you, me, the birds, and anyone else who’s hungry before sending out new seeds that the farmer went out to sow.


©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Penwood Review, the poem also appears in Mary's book of Bible-based poetry, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.




Friday, July 19, 2013

Perfect sales job: God enlists Moses

A basic premise in closing a sale is to overcome objections. To do this, the sales person listens, reflects back concerns, and provides a workable solution. Problem solved. Sale made.

In this ultimate sales presentation, God first has to convince Moses he’s the man for the job. God then reminds Moses he’s not alone and can use what he has on hand to do the work he’s been given. Exodus 3 and 4 report this persuasive conversation, but the following verses highlight the call and response between God and Moses:

From an attention-getting bush of flame, God calls by name: “Moses, Moses!”

Immediately, Moses responds: “Here I am.”

God states the problem and offers a solution: “I have heard the cry of My people, and I know their suffering, They must be delivered from bondage. Come! I will send you to bring My people into a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Humbled by this request, Moses objects: “Who am I that I should go?”

God reassures him, saying, “I will be with you.”

Since Moses had grown up in a land of many gods, he respectfully asks: “If I tell the children of Israel their God has sent me, they’ll want to know Your name! So what do I say?”

Like a mirror reflecting, countering, and reversing Moses’ earlier objection of “Who am I?” God says: “I AM Who I Am.”

God also identifies with The One the Israelites know, saying: “Tell My people the LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.”

But Moses objects, saying: “They won’t believe me!”

God doesn’t argue but sees what Moses has in hand and says: “Throw your staff onto the ground.” So Moses does, and his shepherd’s staff becomes a snake! Then God says, “Catch it by the tail,” and Moses does, and the snake becomes a walking stick again. Then God says, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses does, and his sun-browned hand turns snow white. God tells Moses to put his hand back inside his outer garment. So Moses does, and his hand turns back to normal.

Then God says: “If My people don’t believe the first sign, they might believe the second. And if they do not believe either sign I have shown you, then you’re to pour water from the Nile onto dry ground, and it will become like blood.”

These signs apparently convinced Moses for his objections take another turn: “Oh, LORD, I’m not articulate or persuasive. I’m slow of speech and tongue.”

Moses is just being honest with God as he has been with each objection and concern. God knows this. God also knows that Moses lived with his parents for only a short time and had to leave before he was old enough to develop skill in speaking and understanding the Hebrew language.

As the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, however, Moses learned language skills, politics, and customs, which most likely gave him a world-view larger than he could have had at home. And, for the past forty years, he’s been living with other dialects – of Midianites and a flock of sheep!

Thanks to God’s providential care, Moses already has what’s needed to lead God’s people, but his very real concerns and objections also show he will have to rely heavily on God to succeed.

So God speaks to Moses’ lack of language skills, saying: “I made your mouth! And I will teach you to speak and give you the very words to say. Now go!”

But Moses doesn't want to go! So he says, “Oh, please! Send someone else.”

By now, God has overcome all of Moses’ objections – except the one he doesn’t mention. Murder! Forty years ago, Moses had tried to protect a Hebrew slave but wound up killing the Egyptian who had been abusing the man. Perhaps Moses thought then of using his upbringing to help his own people, but they asked if he planned to kill them too! So Moses ran away.

For the next four decades, he most likely tried to forget home and family by making a new life and family for himself, but God’s call would change everything he’d worked hard to gain. Once again, Moses could lose the home and family he knew.

God understood this but also understood something Moses probably didn’t think through: Putting one’s family or one’s comfort above the Almighty God is not a good idea!

This time Moses is not quick to obey. This time his response aims to end the conversation! So this time God gets annoyed. And, oh, what parent wouldn’t be annoyed over a child’s disobedience! But God isn’t just any parent. God is God and gives free will.

God will not force Moses to obey. And, so, as Moses drags his feet over the sad thought of losing yet another family, God now overcomes that objection too!

God says, “Behold! I have called Aaron, your brother to come to you. How glad he will be to see you again! He can speak very well, but you will put My words into his mouth. And I will be with you, and I will be with him, and I will let you both know what to say and do.”


Prayer:
Dear LORD God and Father of all, we praise You for knowing our hearts better than we know them ourselves! Help us to hear You and receive Your word with no objections as You lovingly guide us into the work You've prepared us to do.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

~~




Friday, July 5, 2013

Seeing ourselves through Christ

Stained Glass
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Through a glass, darkly, I see.
Through a glass – dark and of lead:

Redness corners the pane
of confrontation,
and a silent glint of green
can be still seen where I forgot
what God had given me.
Blue coats a remote place
where my soul cries,
and yellow fears
smear through everything
I say or do.

Oh, Lord, what a mess I've made!

How can I erase this jaded view?

But Christ comes through.

Highlighting old patterns
and parts that need replacing
with communion and confession,
God clarifies the eternal view
of who I am:
beautifully blessed,
beloved, and yes,
colorful, but unstained.

Oh, how Christ's light becomes me!

~~~

(c)2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finders, Keepers, Brothers


And the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I do not know,” Cain said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Genesis 4:9

In Keeping
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Someone should discover flint
for striking fire to send signals
made of smoke or devise a drum
from thin skins of animals stroked
into softness then stretched into
roundness to be beaten into
an oddly hollow sound.

Someone should learn
to yodel in a range
of mountains or arrange
a system for sending sequential
codes on air with interceptive
devices everywhere a tribe or
person remains somewhat ready
to receive what’s being said.

Someone should take charcoal
and mark rolls of parchment with
characters aligning straight lines
of words into the pronouncing of
a sentence.

Someone should write a book,
a map, a mini-series for TV.
Someone should set hooks
and parallel wires on poles
to zigzag the horizon,
reconfiguring the sky in
a random maze that amazes
even the birds.

Someone should hollow out
a satellite dish that allows us
to fax, phone home, email, or
text message each other to keep
in touch with mothers, fathers,
sisters, brothers, neighbors,
and others known to need
close keeping.


©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. First published in a 2011 issue of Contemporary Literary Horizon, this poem later appears in the book of Bible-based poetry, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


~~

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Book of Job and hard times


Following Job into Chapter Nine
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Who can be justified before God?
We ask a thousand times, but
who expects an answer?

Before we know it, mountains move.
The earth shakes out of shape.
Foundations shudder like dread-soaked
pillows tossing on our beds.

The sun does not come up. Stars fail
to light our corners. The very heavens stretch
in ways we cannot begin to understand.

If God comes near, we do not see.
If God passes by, we do not sense.
If God seizes us by force, do we say,
"Stop!" or recognize real reasons?

Tell me, how
can we give God good answers?

How will we state our case?

Even if we’re right, we wouldn't do it.
Even if we’re right, we’d rather beg, but
even if we want a response, how can we
ever believe
God
has actually answered?


©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Poem originally published in 2011 online issue of Catholic Lane and later appears in Mary's book of Bible-based poetry, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


...


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Repentance makes a You-Turn


Turnovers
by Mary Harwell Sayler

What do your sins want
to teach you?

Oh, do not let them go
until you learn!

When you fall on your face,
don’t get up! Turn

over. See that infinite opening
through which to crawl? No?

Then forget it!
Laze there a while until you see.

Eventually God will come
toward you, enticing you home.


© 2013, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to learn from our mistakes, not just during this season of Lent, but throughout the year. Thank You for Your forgiving love and healing, always eager to bless and embrace us in Jesus’ Holy Name.

~~