Presence Blessing #BibleJournaling

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Some of the things I’m putting in my journal Bible are pieces I’ve written in the past about Bible characters and events. One such is a poem I wrote in 2003—“Presence Blessing” sparked by 1 Chronicles 13:14.

The backstory: David wanted to move the Ark of the Covenant from someone’s house to Jerusalem, the centre of worship. Instead of moving it in the prescribed way (carried on poles by the priests) he had it placed on an ox-pulled cart. In transit, when it shifted and threatened to fall, a man reached out to steady it. When he touched it, he fell dead. God’s power, that was on the Ark, was not to be tampered with.

David was shocked and grieved. He stopped the Ark right there and left it in the house of Obed-Edom.

It was in Obed-Edom’s house for a mere three months. Yet during that time, it was obvious to everyone that God’s blessing was on him and his family (1 Chronicles 13:14). How might that have looked and felt, I asked myself. “Presence Blessing” was the result of my musing on those questions.

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Rubber stamps

Method and Materials: To do my Bible journal entry I decided to use some decorative rubber stamps of fruits and vegetables I had from years ago (typifying the bounty I imagined Obed-Edom experienced as God’s blessing). The glaze that came with them is long dried, but I found that loading them with brush marker ink worked fine.

I tried it out on scrap paper and saw that the ink bled through even copy paper, so I knew it would wreck the thin, unprotected pages of my Bible. Thus I prepped my page with transparent gesso before doing any stamping.

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Page, stamped & outlined with pen.

The plan was to decorate the right margin of the Bible page and attach the poem, hand-printed on tracing paper, as a tip in. I stamped the page fine, but then the washi tape wouldn’t adhere to the gesso-treated page. Need a Plan B.

I decided to attach the poem to the facing page instead. Once attached, it felt like it needed a little decoration behind, but nothing with words as the tracing paper is pretty thin and words under would make the poem hard to read.

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Pencil-crayoned rainbow.

I came up with idea of a rainbow, which I coloured with pencil crayons.

After it was all done, I was happy with the look of it. And on second thought,  I realized the rainbow is a wonderful symbol of God’s presence.

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The thin tracing paper allows the rainbow to shine through.

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The two-page spread.

Some rainbows in the Bible:

  • Gods first rainbow was a covenant with the people of Earth – Genesis 9:12-17.
  • Rainbow light surrounded God’s throne in both Ezekiel’s and John’s visions – Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:2-3.
  • A little article I found on rainbows in the Bible concludes with this thought about them:

    “All mention of rainbows in Scripture have a direct connection to the power and glory of God.

    “The sign of the rainbow was meant to be ‘for all future generations’ (Genesis 9:12). When we see a rainbow now, we can let it be a reminder of our covenant-keeping God and His indescribable beauty.”

    And so with that little experience, I’m finding that Bible journaling is not only fun and creatively challenging but it’s taking me, sometimes consciously, sometimes intuitively, in good, even prophetic directions!

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A Shalom Blessing

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Today is the first day of the new school year in our part of the world. As the day after our last official summer holiday, Labour Day, it definitely feels like an end and a beginning—even for us who no longer go to school or have to brave the commute to work.

Today’s poem is a blessing on all who are climbing back into the saddle of school or work.

Children's outdoor playground

“Shalom on… their playgrounds…”  Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly

 

A Shalom Blessing

(After Isaiah 26:3,4)
Shalom: A Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness and welfare: nothing broken, nothing missing.

Shalom on your going out
on your car, bicycle, bus
on the avenues, roads and highways
and other drivers.

Shalom on your workplace
your office, boardroom or barn
your partner, receptionist
your work truck, computer, iPhone
and all your machines and tools.

Shalom on your children
on their cribs and car seats
playpens and toys
their schools, desks, playgrounds
and all their pals.

Shalom on your coming in.
On your street and neighbors
your frying pan, kettle
pitcher, pot and plate
your fork and your food.

Shalom on your radio
television, phone and email
that deliver news from afar
(may it be good)
on your downloads and players
all the words, music and images
that fill your head and your home.

Shalom on your lists and plans
your goals and ambitions
on the wind that refreshes
the rain that nourishes,
the sun that lights your path
and the moon and stars
that illumine your dreams.
Because you trust in Me
Shalom, Shalom.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly

Poem sequences (introducing LIMP)

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In Diane Lockward’s June newsletter,* the Craft Tip article “Poetic Sequences: Practice Makes Potential”  by Oliver de la Paz tells of his visit to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain. On that visit he came across one room where the paintings, drawings, and studies  on the walls, as well as the  sketchbooks filling a table were all remarkably similar in texture and colour. That’s because they were all studies of the same subject—the painting Las Meninas by Velazquez.

La Paz likens these artist studies of Picasso’s to what poets do when they write sequences. He says, “By writing a series or sequence of poems on a singular subject, we can create a volume of individual poems that are at once independent and in dialogue with adjacent poems in the series or sequence. These are generative exercises—painting studies and sequential writing.”

Two advantages la Paz sees in writing sequences:
1. They allow for a close study of a subject from different angles and perspectives, at different times of day, in different seasons, through different moods etc. (depending, of course, on the subject).

2. One doesn’t have to “mine for” a different subject every day. He says, “I’ve found that working in sequences frees me from obsessing over a blank page. Psychologically, I’m prepared to work with content that has already been worked over.”

The power of sequences came to my attention even before I read the newsletter article when I judged a poetry contest a while ago. Though the entries had no names on them, I suspected several were by the same person because they were about the same subject. The subject was a certain creek. The first poem about the creek didn’t strike me as particularly strong. But as I read the second and third poems about the same location, I saw how these “studies” fortified and bolstered each other, the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

I have found myself naturally circling back to some subjects in my own writing,  perhaps because they were new experiences for me and writing about them helped me understand them better. The death of my mother was one such. So was my broken hip this spring. Beginning in March, when I was newly recovering, to April’s poem-a-day challenge, and on, I wrote quite a few poems about my unaccustomed state.

The other day I collected them and found they were a sequence of sorts. I’m going to be sharing them here over the next little while (though not arranged in the order I wrote them).  I call them my LIMP sequence. As in the poems about the creek, when these LIMP poems appear with others of the same subject they seem more complete than they do as individual poems. So, welcome to my LIMP sequence! Below is the first one.

Runner with cane

My trusty cane

Limp

(After Genesis 32:24-32**)

Jacob wrestled with an angel
I fell down some stairs.
The surgeon plated, screwed it
but I was unawares
somehow he took a bit off
I now walk with a limp.
Does God bestow a blessing too
with this gait that’s gimp?

© 2014 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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*You do know about Diane Lockward’s excellent newsletter, don’t you? It comes out every month with a prompt, a craft tip, a writing-book tip and other goodies. If you don’t subscribe, you know you should. (You can subscribe in the right sidebar of her blog Blogalicious.)

**The Bible story is that one night Jacob wrestled with an angel, the angel injured Jacob’s hip, and Jacob wouldn’t let the heavenly being go until the angel blessed him. Jacob did get the blessing but along with it came that lifelong crippled hip.

By the way, I’m walking just fine these days, the cane long retired. Even the limp is growing less noticeable every day!