For anybody feeling discouragement, fearing that his or her time has passed

 

Winter doesn’t have the last word

 

I rarely if ever suffer from writer’s block — a fact that several of my critics have frankly regretted — and, despite the major and very disheartening setback of this past summer, I don’t think that I’m anywhere near the end of my writing career yet.  (For one thing, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture is doing remarkably well.)  Still, even optimists sometimes have moments of doubt.

A few days ago, I ran across a wonderful little piece from Debra Rienstra expressing such fears, and wish to share it:

 

Lament

 

O Lord, I don’t know what comes next.  Am I past my

prime?  Am I a sack of trinkets, emptied out?  A once-

shimmering pool, evaporated?  A spinner spun down,

tipped sidelong, stilled?  Is this a drooping, dry, dissipating

drift toward some awful blank forever?

 

On some days, my work seemed a sweet sachet, crafted in

satin, scented with pungent words: “purpose,” “calling.”  Or

a journey toward visioned destinations, worth all the ache

and sweat.

 

But if this is only a rest, why do I feel so restless and

dull?

 

So much depends on the metaphor we choose for this –

wouldn’t you agree, my God?  You are Lord of the freeze

and the thaw, fullness and emptiness, purpose and wander-

ing.  Let’s call me a tree, and this a winter — I’m all for

cliché in a crisis.  Let’s say that shivery, barren days hunker

us down to the deep.  Tell me, God, to hold fast to the

banks of the river.  Tell me I will bear fruit in season.  Show

me the pale green at the root, the lively bulbs beneath the

crusted loam, the small creatures curled in furry warmth.

Tune me to the hushed inhale of promise, the stillness be-

fore chattering birds.

 

O Lord, do not forget.  Let the seasons turn.  Quicken me.

 

 

 

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  • Laura Ainsworth

    Thank you for sharing, Dan. This poem resonated with me as well. Patience in learning the cause of the trial and the fruit it will bear is the challenge. Sustained by our beloved family, dear friends, and knowledge of God’s love we are carried through the course grateful for their love, wisdom and being there in our hours of need.

  • Louis Midgley

    I find a bit too much attention on in Debra Rienstra’s poem about the self (and what it needs) to satisfy my tastes in devotional materials. I must admit, however, that I enjoyed Rienstra’s review entitled “New (and Dull?) Apologetics,” Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought 23/8 (October 2008): 21-23. This is a review of N. T. Wright’s popular appeal to the unchurched entitled Simply Christian, and also a book by Rowan Williams entitled Tokens of Belief. I enjoyed this item despite and also because it was so very autobiographical.

    • danpeterson

      Hmmmm. I guess I wasn’t really reading it as “devotional,” but rather as an expression of a dry soul in a dry time.

      But then, at least a couple of my critics would point out, helpfully, that the piece resonates with me precisely because I’m an arrogant egomaniac.