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  • Josiah Travis

Melodies of Light

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

I am not a poet. I think I can count the number of poems I've written in my lifetime on my ten fingers--certainly on my fingers and toes. And some of those poems go back to grade school where we were to write poems about pets and mothers and other such things. One poem I still have was written in 6th grade and is titled "Mother." My mom has it framed and still hanging in my parents' bedroom. I have chuckled reading it as an adult because the language awkward metaphors in it. But I guess it still has its own kind of innocent beauty--at least my mom likes it.


So I am no poet, but in the past few years I have come to appreciate how beautiful honesty can sometimes be better communicated in the free form flow of poetry than in the concrete structure of prose. There have been some occasions recently that I have written my heart's anger and sadness over certain things in poetry rather than prose. The free form of poetry seemed more capable of expressing the true emotion I felt. In my own faith journey, this has even been a way that I can express the honesty of my heart to God. And I am convinced more than ever before that the God I see in the Christian scriptures is a God who is interested in hearing what we really think. More than polite phrases or pat answers, he is interested in us. He isn't a God who says, "Don't you speak to me that way young man." He invites us to come out from behind the veil, behind the mask, behind the pretty flowery language that is meaningless and in itself can be a mask and talk to Him. He is interested in hearing from us, true us. For me, poetry has been a little adventure into honesty in language. I don't aspire to being a grand poet, but it is exciting to try out a new way of expression.


So how about you? I wonder if you'll let me invite you to try it out for yourself. Would you try writing a poem? In a moment of time that is particularly rich with emotion--pleasant or unpleasant--would you allow yourself the freedom to record that moment with unstructured language that seeks to express what you see and what you feel? Would you stop to consider, "What is this moment like?" What are the images and metaphors that come to mind as you live in or reflect upon the experience? Allow your imagination to come alive. Experience the moment in image and emotion rather than rote rational thought. Our rational minds are always, always trying to make sense and find meaning. How about, allowing yourself to be a present observer, not seeking to fully understand or explain. Just observe and describe. Feel no burden to make a poem that is beautiful or shareable. Simply write one that is honest and true. Maybe you are like I was and you haven't written a poem since grade school. You might feel shy or intimidated about the prospect. But let me prod you a little. Give it a try. It might give you a shot at seeing your world in new light.


Now, you will probably never find me sharing some of my most honest poems (I've still only written a handful of them anyway) but I would like to share one with you that I wrote sometime at the end of last summer. I think its appropriate to pull out on this dreary February day in Ohio. I hope that maybe it inspires you to try your hand at writing a poem of your own.

I snapped this photo with my iPhone last summer during an almost perfect moment on a friend's farm. It wasn't taken on the day I wrote this poem but it captures a similar sort of moment. The tree I sat under on that day could just as easily have been any of those pictured here.

MELODIES OF LIGHT

Here I sit beneath green leaves that burst with light.

The sun rises around me.

I do nothing to cause this splendor,

And dark shade within me can do nothing to stop it.

Beauty advances without me,

In spite of me. 

Light marches across the land 

Making beautiful all it touches.

I sit and listen to the melodies of light.


But from within another song plays.  

Dark waters are my heart,

Unsettled at the surface and turbulent below.

Out of tune and tempo, a troubled dirge plays here.

Which chorus will I join? 

Unanswered, the question lingers for a moment.

Should I bring the glory of this heavenly light within?

Can the beauty of Creation's King

Awaken beauty hidden within me?

Darkness and light, light and dark.

The sounds and songs war for moments and minutes.

Then, finally, soft warm light begins to penetrate, waking me.

Rise up oh my soul and join the chorus 

For the glory of the Lord shines upon you. 

© 2019 BY JOSIAH TRAVIS