Some Thoughts – From My Perspective of a Soup Can

Once upon a time, there were two philosophers: William Toppingham, and Archibald Siderwick. Both philosophers had their own ideas, and both had numerous followers.

The Toppingheimers believed that they were superior, as they always looked at every issue from up above, believing that a bird’s eye view would bring every problem into clear perspective.

The Siderwickians believed that wisdom was on their side, as they took a more “grounded” approach, looking at issues from various sides (but never from up above, as they didn’t want to be seen as foolish Toppingheimers)

One day, a young child asked a simple question: “what shape is a soup can?” His Toppingheimer father said, “It’s a circle”. But his Sidewickian uncle (who happened to be visiting at the time) said, “that’s ridiculous. It’s clearly rectangular!” The visit had been going well, up until that point, but this simple question put the two brothers at odds. Before too long, the uncle left, and the child still did not have a satisfactory answer

The two brothers each took the question to their mentors, and each was confirmed in his answer. Toppingham said “circle”, and Siderwick said “rectangle.”

Within a few days, the argument had been taken up by the masses. The Toppingheimers staged protests and demonstration, the Sidewickians resorted to insults and name-calling. It wasn’t too long before the first rocks were thrown (both sides blamed the other side for starting it), and ultimately, blood flowed in the streets.

~~

Maybe my story is silly, but I think my point is clear: it’s surprisingly hard to look at an issue from someone else’s perspective. Who was right in my story? Both…and neither. From one angle, a soup can is a circle…from another, it’s a rectangle, but viewed from all angles, it’s clear that neither point of view is completely accurate.

We live in a divided world. The current “soup can” is a virus, and we all are looking at the issue from one of 2 or 3 perspectives. I have my own point of view on the matter…and I have my reasons. I firmly believe that my way of seeing the issue is logical, rational, intelligent, and correct. But guess what? Those who hold opposing views also firmly believe that their way of seeing things is logical, rational, intelligent and correct. Who’s ultimately right? Probably, to some degree, the holders of both views. Who is wrong?…probably to an even greater extent, both camps. Maybe the answer to who’s right should be: “Who cares? Let’s find some common ground and start behaving like civilized human beings once again!”

~~

Even while writing this, I must confess that I still find it hard to see past my own nose to look into the eyes of someone who holds a different viewpoint than me. I still find myself so blinded by my own desire to be right that I can’t see how I could possibly be wrong. So if you find yourself in the same room as me, and I get upset with you because, “I’m right and you’re wrong”, please be patient with me. This whole process of seeing things from someone else’s point of view is something I’m still working on…but I’m trying. I only ask that you try too. Hopefully before too long, we’ll all learn to get along again.

Psalm Sunday – Psalm 4

When my children were younger, my wife and I taught them to recite Psalm 4:8 as part of their bedtime routine. “I go to bed and sleep in peace, because, LORD, only you keep me safe.” (New Century Version). This is a promise that I still often repeat…especially if I am facing stress or worries.

In this psalm, The Psalmist speaks of enemies and their lies, but also speaks of how he is able to sleep in peace because of the confidence he has in God. I wanted to reflect that in today’s poem. The last 2 lines of my poem repeat (as closely as I could stay to the NCV rendering as I could within my chosen meter) and expand upon Psalm 4:8. The form of the poem is called a “Fourteener” as there are 14 syllables per line.

~~

To sleep in peace, Lord, Ah! That is a treasure worth much more
than all the gold and riches that the evil have in store
They scheme and plot to try to steal the things another built,
but in the end they only gain an ever deep’ning guilt!
Lord, what I have may be no more than I need to get through,
yet I have joy, for I have found contentment’s found in you!
“I go to bed and sleep in peace”, I need not fear the night
“For only you, Lord, keep me safe” until the morning light

An honest worship song

I cannot sing the hymns of old
with true and honest heart
the words I sing and how I feel
are paths that oft’ depart
I like to sing of rivers faced
that all’s well with my soul
“but is it well?” I have to ask
“not always” truth be told
and as for anchors holding strong
upon life’s troubled sea
it’s hard, sometimes, to trust in things
that can’t be seen by me
I must confess that I am one
whose faith is far too small
for when I’m told by God to trust
I still fear that I’ll fall
I cannot say “Lord I believe”
when doubts are still so strong
So Lord, please take my disbelief
and turn it into song:
A song of slowly growing faith
of walking with my King
Lord turn my doubting into praise
and give me faith to sing!
Yes turn my doubting into praise
and give me faith to sing!

Gethsemane

Upon the night he was betrayed
While waiting in Gethsemane
With fervent cries and tears he prayed
“Lord take this cup away from me”

And though he may have feared his death
He never once said “I demand!”
But with the prayer of ev’ry breath:
“Father!” he said, “as you command!”

With reverence, he gave his will
Submitting to his Father’s plan:
To die upon the dark Skull Hill
He gladly went: Christ! God and Man!

Obedient, the cross he bore
That we might live forevermore.

~~

Based on Hebrews 5:7 and influenced by numerous passages from the Gospels.

God sent his Son

God sent his Son so he could show
his love for us that we might know
that though we’ve failed him one and all
he will not leave us in sin’s thrall
but grace to us he would bestow

Death’s chains would pull us all below
to languish in Hell’s horrid glow
but He so loves us, though we fall
God sent his Son!

Instead, he wants for us to grow
and have eternal life,and so
He only asks for us to call
in faith to him – though faith be small
How do we know his love still flows?
God Sent his Son!

~~

the above poem is my paraphrase of John 3:16. the poem is written in the Rondeau form.

Only the Novice Never Misses

The novice archer takes and shoots his bow
without a care for where his arrows land
no target was in mind, so he can’t know
if there is any skill within his hand

a more experienced archer aims her shot
and sees her arrow overshoot the mark
she takes her aim and with a little thought
she tries to use a less aggressive arc

the expert bowman hits the target’s eye
and then he goes to analyze his score
“I missed the very center!” is his cry
and so he goes to practice more and more

without a goal each arrow finds its place
but practice shows no archer is an ace

~~

this poem is my attempt to express some thoughts that I’ve had…that it is only when we strive to accomplish something that we realize how far from the mark we actually are…and even if we dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of that goal…we might get better and better, but there is always room to become better.

Wind and Rock

a promise holds no value without trust
that he who made the oath will keep his word
for if the wind told me it would not gust
I’d know that such a promise was absurd

for by its nature, winds a fickle friend
it comes from west to east then east to west
it blows in gales that seem to have no end
until we have a need, then takes its rest

it holds aloft the kite high in the air
then shifts to make the toy dash to the earth
it utters oaths as easily as prayer
then breaks them all and laughs at us with mirth

so trust the Rock that does not move nor shake
the One whose covenants will never break

Radiance

the people could not bear to see his face
when Moses came away from God’s bright presence
and so he kept a covering in place
to shield them from God’s Holy Spirit’s essence

Elijah rode a chariot of flame
when he, undying, rose up to the sky
his radiance made Elisha exclaim,
“My Father!” when the brilliance caught his eye

with Peter, James, and John upon a hill
Christ’s glory as the Son of God was shown
Moses and Elijah came, but still
The greatest radiance was Christ’s alone

one day his children might outshine the sun
but brighter still will shine the Holy One

These are not the miracles you are looking for

These prayers of mine: It sometimes seems
Are falling on deaf ears. They are
Not being answered in the way I would like.
The fact is, though, the miracles I want would pale beside the
Miracles that are actually happening if I only had the eyes to see.
You, O Lord, work in ways that I cannot comprehend, and you
Are doing so much more than I can imagine. Help me to start
Looking beyond what I think I want, and looking
For your far greater plan

Imagine!

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30, ESV)

can you imagine Eagle Wingèd flight?
flying high without ever tiring out
can you picture joy all day and all night?
except: No Night! for Heaven is without!

and better yet, think of this if you please:
can you fathom life without any pain?
not just severe wounds or pain of disease
but bumps and bruises won’t be felt again!

but as grand your imaginings are
as fantastic as your mind’s eye might see
it won’t match the reality by far
so much greater than that Heaven will be

The very best thing, though, about that place
is that we’ll see our Savior’s lovely face