Nearing the end of Cultivate Beauty Month - Random thoughts in haiku form

clean, clean apartment
at least the bookshelf is clean
books lined up neatly

the Doppler effect
goose honks change pitch past window
high, lower, lower

dust on the keyboard
is it really true that it's
made up of my skin?

I have in my drawer
one-hundred and forty-three
real Hong Kong dollars

in case you wondered,
that much amounts to not quite
twenty of our own

can I help it if
on a prom-queen May evening
I cannot study?

can't write a haiku
about Mere Christiani-
ty, for I'll run out

looking at bookshelves
I guess I once loved pulp, dime-
store, sad, trite novels

I'm very thirsty
I guess that means this is the
penultimate one

dearest friends, near, far --
patient, indulgent of my
poetic whims -- thanks.


Summer Reading List

I've got loads of books on my shelf, and not just school books, but fiction and anthologies from my college days as well as ones I've picked up since. I love books. I love everything about them. I love the smell of new books, and how the spines crackle when they're opened for the first time, and the rustle of thin pages. I've got a friend who will actually have time to read this summer, and I've made her a list of books to borrow, read, and enjoy. So, for the curious, and in honor of Cultivate Beauty month as it draws to a close, I will, Oprah-like, give you my recommended summer reading list, in no particular order:

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Beloved by Toni Morrison
How the Irish Saved Civilization (nonfiction) by Thomas Cahill
Proof (a play) by David Auburn
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
The Professor and the Madman (historical fiction, based on real events) by Simon Winchester
The Devil in the White City (another historical fiction) by Erik Larson
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Wit (a play) by Margaret Edson
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Had anybody read any of these? What are your favorite books, or some that you've lately read that you loved?


Spurgeon on Missionaries Teaching Christ to the Natives

Hey, all. I took this from Wade Burleson's blog (with permission, bien sur) because I think it reminds us to focus on what's important. This month, I want to remember that nothing is more beautiful or worthy of cultivating than the Gospel. Our focus must be on the Gospel and its power to bring lost, spiritually dead, doomed people to a saving relationship with the Messiah. I hope you all are keeping up with Wade's blog and with Marty Duren as well, and that you are praying that God's peace will reign in the hearts of every believer caught up in the dispute, and that the Enemy's schemes for division would be utterly thwarted in the face of a renewed commitment to the Gospel. That, brothers and sisters, would be a beautiful thing.

Let Spurgeon teach us from across the years:

I do not know whether all our missionaries have caught the idea of Christ “Go ye and teach all nations,” but many of them have, and these have been honored with many conversions.

The more fully they have been simple teachers, not philosophers of the Western philosophy, not eager disputants concerning some English dogma, I say the more plainly they have gone forth as teachers sent from God to teach the world, the more successful have they been.

“Go ye, therefore, and teach.” Some may think, perhaps, there is less difficulty in teaching the learned than in teaching the uncivilized and barbarous. There is the same duty to the one as to the other: “Go and teach.”

“But they brandish the tomahawk.” Teach them, and lie down and sleep in their hut, and they shall marvel at your fearlessness and spare your life.

“But they feed on the blood of their fellows, they make a bloody feast about the cauldron in which a man’s body is the horrible viand.” Teach them and they shall empty their war-kettle, and they shall bury their swords, and bow before you, and acknowledge King Jesus.

“But they are brutalised, they have scarce a language — a few clicking sounds make up all that they can say.” Teach them, and they shall speak the language of Canaan, and sing the songs of heaven.

The fact has been proved, brethren, that there are no nations incapable of being taught, nay, that there are no nations incapable afterwards of teaching others. The Negro slave has perished under the lash, rather than dishonor his Master.

The Esquimaux has climbed his barren steeps, and borne his toil, while he has recollected the burden which Jesus bore. The Hindoo has patiently submitted to the loss of all things, because he loved Christ better than all. Feeble Malagasay women have been prepared to suffer and to die, and have taken joyfully suffering for Christ’s sake. There has been heroism in every land for Christ; men of every color and of every race have died for him; upon his altar has been found the blood of all kindreds that be upon the face of the earth.

Oh! tell me not they cannot be taught. Sirs, they can be taught to die for Christ; and this is more than some of you have learned. They can rehearse the very highest lesson of the Christian religion — that self sacrifice which knows not itself but gives up all for him.

At this day there are Karen missionaries preaching among the Karens with as fervid an eloquence as ever was known by Whitfield, there are Chinese teaching in Borneo, Sumatra, and Australia, with as much earnestness as Morison or Milne first taught in China. There are Hindoo evangelists who are not ashamed to have given up the Brahminical thread, and to eat with the Pariah, and to preach with him the riches of Christ. There have been men found of every class and kind, not only able to be taught, but able to become teachers themselves, and the most mighty teachers too, of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well was that command warranted by future facts, when Christ said, “Go ye, teach all nations.”

Excerpt from "NO. 383
APRIL 21ST, 1861,

A sermon preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon 145 years ago today.


From "Long Ago In Oregon"

by Claudia Lewis

The Nelsons


In the early mornings
Mr. Nelson passed our house
on his walk,
in his neat dark suit
and coat, open and
flying a bit;
white hair,
stepping along
swinging umbrella for a cane.
When Mr. Nelson walked,
he walked,
enjoying the air
and the morning

Everyone knew
his big store
was the best in town
Always at Christmas
a Santa there
had gifts for children

When I was very small
we lived close by
Mrs. Nelson, plump and cozy
like a grandma,
would invite us in on days
when she made marshmallows.
Marshmallows! Not like
the puffs we bought in boxes
but trembling, glistening white,
arranged in fragile pieces
on a tray.

And her grown-up boys
and girls would play with us,
swing and toss us
in the yard
all around the snowball tree.

Far in the back of my mind
as time passed
I remembered once in a while--
almost not at all--
that the Nelsons were Catholics.
Mother had told us
any church in town
was all right for us--
except the Catholic.
"Why not the Catholic?"
"...Well, in that church
they worship images."

What did this have to do
with the snowball tree
with cozy marshmallow grandma,
and the jaunty man--
the gentleman--
who walked in the morning?

I never even tried
to fit these pieces together.

One day I realized
I hadn't seen him lately,
passing by.
"Mother, where is Mr. Nelson?"

"Oh, I meant to tell you.
We won't see him anymore--
He was old, very old,
...He has died..."

(Meant to tell me?
I don't think you did.)

I glimpse a great darkness
in spite of angels.

I've heard snatches
of sad talk.
Now I know--

is Mr. Nelson
striding along
in the morning
toward something black and far
in the night.


Cultivate Beauty

In honor of Kill Your TV / Cultivate Beauty / National Poetry Month, I'll be posting some original poems (eek!) and some by my favorite poets throughout the month. To start things off right, settle into a metaphysical mindset (or mind/bodyset) and enjoy this delectable offering from one of my favorite poets, Li-Young Lee, an Indonesian-born Chinese-American poet. His writing is so gorgeous that it hurts my brain. Enjoy.

A Story

Sad is the man who is asked for a story
and can't come up with one.

His five-year-old son waits in his lap.
Not the same story, Baba. A new one.
The man rubs his chin, scratches his ear.

In a room full of books in a world
of stories, he can recall
not one, and soon, he thinks, the boy
will give up on his father.

Already the man lives far ahead, he sees
the day this boy will go. Don't go!
Hear the alligator story! The angel story once more!
You love the spider story. You laugh at the spider.
Let me tell it!

But the boy is packing his shirts,
he is looking for his keys. Are you a god,
the man screams, that I sit mute before you?
Am I a god that I should never disappoint?

But the boy is here. Please, Baba, a story?
It is an emotional rather than logical equation,
an earthly rather than heavenly one,
which posits that a boy's supplications
and a father's love add up to silence.

-- Li-Young Lee