Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
This poem (parable, what have you) came to me last summer, and I felt drawn to share it here.
I built my house in the lonely mountains,
I built a place where I might rest.
For of this world I was so weary
That all I asked was one request.
I said good neighbors, can't you leave me be?
I said the peace of the Lord is here,
I said your church is not for me,
They said I blasphemed, it was clear.
They said old heathen, you change your ways,
They said we know you're bound for Hell,
They said the Lord will surely crush you,
I said I blessed and wished them well.
They could not wait for Heaven's justice,
They could not bear that I should live.
They brought me down and made me pay
Till I had nothing left to give.
But I'll rise up, as a thousand flowers,
As the call of the canyon wren.
Yes, I'll rise up in the flight of swallows,
And the cry from the cougar's den.
They thought they had destroyed me wholly,
But I'm in a better land.
My blood they gave to the lonely mountains,
My soul they gave to God's own hand.
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Thanks for this poem, Annette. I was reading Hebrews 11 yesterday, and I thought it significant that the writer, in talking about faith, lists individuals, one after another throughout the chapter. Right living, it seems to me, is known through the individual's love and longing for truth, rather than through social acceptance gained through acclimating to some group standard. It's an issue of identity: to be found either through inward knowledge of God, or through outward acceptance by the tribe. Your poem illustrates the difference and also the rough, inevitable consequence of tribal resentment. James Nayler wrote about this, alluding to verse 38, but I can't recall where at the moment.
I liked the references to a particular place, a place that has canyon wrens and cougar dens. Particulars like these suggest to me the universality of the message. (It's true here in this place; true there in that place; and therefore, by inference, true in all places.) Everyday particulars often present analogies to the inward and universal Life, as Jesus's parables show.
Here is the Nayler quotation that I mentioned in my previous comment as referring to Heb. 11:38. The final sentence's "dens and desolate places" echoes that verse's "dens and caves of the earth." These are Nayler's final words and beautifully speak of both the worldly tribulation and the heavenly joy of living obedient to and sustained by Christ:
There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thought to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it; nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world's joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places of the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life.
The ending of your poem reminds me of John 12:25-26, which states, "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serve me, he must follow me and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him."
And it just struck me as I read this over again those words "loves his life" and "hates his life in this world" are comparative phrases. It is not that I am to go about despising the day I was born and moaning to all and sundry how miserable my existence is. Rather there is something I love more than my life in this world. This you have made clear in the closing part of your poem which parallels Jesus' statement in verse 26.