Archive for the ‘poems’ Category

It doesn’t matter

if the snow was falling

fierce or lazily or not at all.

The sinless Son of God

was bright enough without that pall.

The world, cold, dark and rough

at heart,

whether encased in ice

or just crouched low and acting tough

under its crust of piety—this world

was due to be


by the pure white heart of love.

May you be dazzled by God’s love throughout the coming year.


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(adapted from Advent Longings, copyright 1997)

Listen to the voice of patience, the voice of God-fearing, God-trusting patience, through long dark years of waiting.  Listen to the voice of Simeon:

“They come and go.  From first light until last, from snuffing of the lamps to their rekindling–shuffling and shy or proud, pretentious folks–all of them come, and go.  They bring their offerings, or buy them here:  the lamb or kid or pair of turtledoves…they make confession, swear a vow, say a thanksgiving prayer–and then they’re gone, back into the world out there.

And with each footstep, I ask, ‘Is it now?  Could this one be the One You promised us?  He who will invest our coming and going with real meaning…Salvation and glory–not for the space of a day, or a year…not at the constant cost of bloody beasts…but everlasting Hope for our nation, and a light to lighten the whole world’s night!’

My corner seat is dark–my eyes, too weak to read, don’t need to see the scroll now anyway.  Your Word I’ve hidden in my heart, and I am sure, waiting and watching in these shadows, You will not let me sink into the greater darkness before I see the first rays of the dawn You’ve sworn will come…

Outside the dusk is thickening into night again–and so I light my candle, and I wait.”

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(from Advent Longings, copyright 1997)










Our hillside fire seems feeble tonight.
Although it is a warm clear night, there is
no moon.  The flames reflect in eyes, on beards,
more like the rush lights on our hearths at home,
where women wait, weaving to ease the hours
until this shepherds’ watch is over and
we head for home again.  The vast mantle
of inky sky is no more bright or dark
than a thousand others we’ve sat under, wide
awake or dozing, ‘midst the soft and rumbling
breath of sheep, the fire’s crackle.  But
this sky presses down, pulses with promise.

What is it that unsettles us tonight?
Our daily round goes on without event–
from lambing time to shearing, we keep pace
with seasons, and the stars look on, impassive.
But tonight those cold stars seem to shimmer,
whisper “soon”…and ‘though we shepherds shrug
and shake our heads, we settle with less ease
into the folds of cloaks, and each of us
sits wakeful, and we wonder, “What comes soon?
Or who?  And will we recognize the coming?”
Like as not, out here among the beasts,
we’ll miss it altogether.  Still–as stars
become a candle-flickering haze before
our eyes–we wonder, “When?”  And hope–against
all odds–that it is soon, and we’ll be told…

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Philippians 1:6, a sonnet

(with my love and thanks to my friend, Ruth Holleran)

Cannot the clay be crushed while on the wheel,

Canvas be slashed before the paint is dry?

Can’t faulty stitch be ripped by knitter’s zeal,

Phrase be erased which fails to satisfy?

The carver, wise and skilled, has perfect right

To scrap the flawed and twisted piece of wood.

The poet stops his fledgling work mid-flight

Because it isn’t singing as it should.

But we, the Potter’s marred, unlovely jars,

No masterpieces…He elects to wet

His hands and work us new. God, who names stars

And knows each sparrow, hasn’t finished yet…

Till we are fit for our unveiling day,

Our Maker–loving, faithful–shapes our clay.

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I’ve suspended my disbelief

and the suspense is killing me.

Is he or isn’t he–? Yes? No?

The aimless wanderer hung out

with so-called friends, no goals, no ends,

followed after and fell forward.

Did he–? Could he–? Will the plea be…?

Viewing this cliffhanger ending,

heart wrung out, like sheets on the line,

flaps in the wind, flings drops wildly.

My thoughts pound and echo, rising

up and falling back from hope like

warning clangs and claps of struck bells.

Swinging back and forth, an endless

litany of minute questions.

“Did he–? Was he–? Could he–? Will we–?”

Knife-edged comfort, to depend on

others’ knowledge, virtue, mercy.

Truth is up for grabs, and hope hangs

in the balance, love a grave and

constant weight, an anchor here, now.

Waiting. Yes, no? Innocent or–?

Lord, I believe. I’ve hung up my

unbelief. Hang on to me so

the suspense won’t kill me.

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March Away, Spring Ahead…

Bird song returns with the warm rain

and ground smells green, hopeful.

Just now, a blue jay lit on a low branch

of my birch tree–

crisp blue on white bark, a poem.

Common things combine,

juxtapose for just a moment…

a smile and a kind word,

a yellow crocus in late snow,

a shy joke and answering laughter…

making the heart sing again.

–Lauren E. Nichols, 3/31/08

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Psalm 77: Suspending My Disbelief, Sustaining My Hope

When all that was vibrant and teaming with life

feels like pewter plate–heavy and dull;

When the duties of worker and mother and wife

leave me hollowed, a beaten-down hull;

Your Word is a light flick’ring fast in the gloom,

and Your Wind blows a life-giving breeze through my desolate room.

– – – – – –

The bow which caresses the string strokes a lingering tone,

and it trembles, sustained on the air, an invisible wave.

The Word suspends each spinning sphere on a track of its own,

and their circular dance shapes our seasons from birth to the grave.

– – – – – –

When I can’t feel my pulse for the numbness inside,

and my heart is a stone in my chest;

When I’ve run out of salt for the tears that I’ve cried,

and my sleep is too heavy for rest;

I’ll remember the God who created this clay,

Who crafted with purpose each numbered, deliberate day.

– – – – – –

And I know Peter’s feet found a footpath on top of the waves…

and he took a few steps till he faltered and sank like a stone.

Help me stand on Your Word that it isn’t my willing that saves–

help me trust in Your promises– firmer than all of my own.

– – – – – –

When I don’t see the point of the things that I’ve planned,

and I shudder and tear up the list;

When I fear that what’s under my floor is just sand,

and I can’t see my feet for the mist,

I remember the beam that’s supporting my weight

is the wood of the cross where You hung to reverse my sad fate.

– – – – – –

And I know that the Red Sea was parted, and Jericho fell,

and that Lazarus lived, and an angel appeared in a cell.

And I stand on Your words when my own are all crumbled to dust.

And Your promise upholds me when there’s nothing else I can trust.

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