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Poetry

Moon Shine Still

By | Poetry | One Comment

The sun to rule by day and the moon by night – Genesis 1:16

I walked one more time, later afternoon
from the busy boulevard across the fields
where boys play rugby on the grassy top
over the parking decks for the Domain
past the smaller park by St. Mary’s Cathedral
where the trees are dying now, poisoned
by the ground.
Paradise lost, by a parking lot.

I saw poised above Sydney harbor
a waxing early evening moon, coming on
as slowly as a fluorescent lamp
its face nearly full
with makeup in pale blue
waiting patiently in the wings of evening
for its turn.

Below, the blaze of brother sun
almost finished with his daily run
his rays setting fire to the buildings up on
King’s Cross
made their very drabness glow
with a kind of glory
like Latter Day Saints.

I sat then for a long time on a remote
bench above the darkening bay,
next to a wide and winding old gum tree
watching the ferries and their day
as they made their dim and final crossings
to and from Manley
recollecting the crossings of my life
my own racing’s and wanings
t just the time when evening blue bids
good night
to youthful days.

Walking back I went slowly now,
careful with my footsteps in the dusk
trying not to stumble on a root
past the old sick trees
marked for mercy killing.

When I scanned the sky again
the moon was almost fully waxed
shining out more clearly
with a brighter, bluer face
against the dark
in the lateness of the day.

May my moonshine,
(I breathed),
may my moonshine
shine more brightly still
and make me thankful
for these later days.

-Leighton Ford

Billy’s Cross

By | Poetry | No Comments

BILLY’S CROSS
A Meditation for his 95th birthday.

The cross!
The cross!
the young preacher cried
to the vast crowds
in the football stadiums of the world.

The cross!
the old man says in his husky voice
sitting next to his dog
on the porch of his log house,
gazing with faded eyes at the blue ridged hills.

The cross!
Above his chair in the kitchen
a small cloth banner … a reminder:
“God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

But why?
Why glory in the cross?
Didn’t Jesus on the cross ask “Why?”

I think I know my brother-in-law
well enough to know
why the cross matters to him so
that after these ninety-five years
he makes it his last word.

He knows how much he himself needs grace.
When he meets the Lord
he’s not going to puff his chest, stick out his hand
and say, “ I’m Billy Graham, your chief envoy.”
Knowing him he’ll be prostrate, on his face,
Saying “Thank You for your mercy,
for choosing me, a sinner.

But it’s not as if he thinks of the cross only as a ticket to heaven.

He knows that coming to the Cross costs nothing, and everything.
How many times I’ve heard him quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“When Christ calls a man, he calls him to die.”
And Jesus: “Take up your cross and follow me.”
He knows that the Cross offers both free grace
And a call to die daily to self-glory.

Billy is a preacher, not a poet,
but I think he’d agree with a poet who writes,
“I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross
when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness,
cries out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’”

(Christian Wiman)

I have seen him gaze with longing at the picture of
his departed and beloved Ruth, wince at the pain
that runs through his jaw and down his leg.
At the Washington Cathedral after 9/11 he said,
“I don’t know why God allowed this. It’s a mystery.”
But he knows that on the cross God was saying
“I am with you, not beyond you, in suffering.”

There’s more. A Chinese scholar once told me,
“When Billy Graham came to China
he came not with a closed fist, but an open hand.”
That’s because he knows there’s a paradox in the cross
(though he might not call it that).

The cross is both the narrowest gate
and the widest welcome to new life.
The narrowest, for Jesus said, “I am the door, the way.”
The widest because he also said,
“Whoever comes to me I will not turn away.”

That gate is open to all who seek God’s grace
and are willing to receive it,
people of every kind and condition –
liberal, conservative
Tea Party, Occupier
Straight or otherwise
Republican, Democrat, Libertarian
Sarah P and Nancy P
Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic, or “none”
All kinds of sinners and seekers.

In the cross of Christ God throws open the gate of new life and says,
“Welcome. There’s room in my house for you. Come in.
And you’ll be changed into what I created you to be
– a human fully redeemed.”

We can hang a cross round our neck,
gaze at it on a steeple,
but it is far more than an icon.
The cross tells us that life itself, creation itself
is cross-shaped, cruciformed,
the hope of  healing for a broken world.

The cross!
Billy has preached the cross,
successfully.
He also has lived it, or, better
lived by it,
faithfully.

Leighton Ford
November 2013

 

 

Sunset at the Bellfry

By | Photography, Poetry | No Comments


I have seen many sunsets
across my years
each radiant in its moment
and original style as with this sunset
in the Virginia hills
made special by its time
in space and flowing colors
but also who was with me
on the hilltop and who came to mind
as the sky dimmed and
I made my way
ever so carefully
downward through
the bent grass path toward night

Leighton Ford
At the Bellfry, Virginia
May 2019

Order Places of the Heart

By | Art, Poetry | No Comments

Leighton Ford’s latest book, Places of the Heart, has been released and is available for purchase. This book makes for a great Christmas gift!

Places of the Heart is Leighton Ford’s latest four-color book and features the author’s imaginative watercolor paintings, poetry, and reflections on a life formed, redeemed, empowered, and directed by God and for God’s glory.

Find out more and order at https://https://www.leightonfordministries.org/places-of-the-heart/

A Look Inside Places of the Heart

By | Poetry, Reflections and Readings | No Comments

Leighton Ford’s latest book, Places of the Heart, has been released and is available for purchase. This book makes for a great Christmas gift!

Places of the Heart is Leighton Ford’s latest four-color book and features the author’s imaginative watercolor paintings, poetry, and reflections on a life formed, redeemed, empowered, and directed by God and for God’s glory. Each section has both a painting and a reflection that accompanies it.

Find out more and order at https://www.leightonfordministries.org/places-of-the-heart/

Places of the Heart Now Available

By | Art, Poetry | No Comments

Leighton Ford’s latest book, Places of the Heart, has been released and is available for purchase. This book makes for a great Christmas gift!

Places of the Heart is Leighton Ford’s latest four-color book and features the author’s imaginative watercolor paintings, poetry, and reflections on a life formed, redeemed, empowered, and directed by God and for God’s glory.

Find out more and order at https://https://www.leightonfordministries.org/places-of-the-heart/

Places of the Heart Released

By | Art, Poetry | No Comments

Leighton Ford’s latest book, Places of the Heart, has been released and is available for purchase.

Places of the Heart is Leighton Ford’s latest four-color book and features the author’s imaginative watercolor paintings, poetry, and reflections on a life formed, redeemed, empowered, and directed by God and for God’s glory.

Find out more and order at https://https://www.leightonfordministries.org/places-of-the-heart/

A Poem For Spring (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

By | Poetry | No Comments

THE WORLD IS CHARGED WITH THE GRANDEUR OF GOD

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins