Tough As Nails

Tough As Nails – Defiant Letter to God from the World, & the Flesh

We are willing to discard the person for the part.
“We’ve made great strides”,  “…a long way, Baby.”
You and Your creation shall serve us.
Yes, that is our “Way”.

It makes perfect sense to us.
After all, You are invisible,
As invisible as a child within the womb,
That is, until the flesh is torn away.

We have the technology.
See, no cringing here. “Just do it!”
We’re tough as nails.
You are familiar with nails?

Yes, tough as nails.
In this world you have to be!
Hello.  Knock, knock.  Are You there?
…. See, He doesn’t care.

You hold Your anger, so we say,
“Where is this God of yours?”.
Our world crumbles,
Chaos all around.
Evidence of Your absence or Your ire?
It doesn’t matter.
You are the Past. We are Now!

If I pull Your beard, will You awaken.
Are You like us?
Will You take a poll
Or turn Your blind eyes?
In Your retirement or death,

We’ve found our voice. We’ve found our fist!
Not to worry.
We’ve come a long way.
Crowned ourselves God!

©2010 Joann Nelander

Passion of a Warrior

When did his passion begin?
Did it commence with the kiss
By which he bid his loved ones adieu.
Or did the call to battle
Bid him count the cost,
Shattering vanities and proud hoorahs,
With winter ice
Though veins,
Piercing to the marrow of bone.

The Call was always greater
Than one man’s valor or presumption.
Holier than Adam could undertake in rage,
Yet a young David found an “Amen”
Rising within his shepherd- breast,
Shielded by hope and faith
Born of a Savior,
Yet borne into battle
By the foal that carried Him forth.

All battles,
Waged for the souls of men,
Find common ground;
Friend and foe,
Dying side by side.
As grains numbered as the sand,
And the blood,
Bridle high at Armageddon,
Corpses piled and claiming
The best among us,
As generations of spent warriors’ might,
Trust to God
To judge the heart of every man,
And wear his colors in His raiment.

Memories, born as festering wounds,
Or toughened scars,
Mark the man and record the Passion.
No jot or tiddle forgotten,
Fingered on the ground,
Condemning only the Accurser.

Angels minister the balm of Gilead
As the dead live again,
And the living love
Through the Darkness.
Mended hearts,
Held to a measure,
Weighed on scales of Mercy.
Are blessed.
None forgotten,
All forgiven.

How long? How long?
Martyrs witness the passion of the warrior,
And place merited crown,
And victor’s wreathe,
As a new name resounds,
Pronounced by the Mouth of God.

©2012 Joann Nelander

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot The stages of contemplation

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot The stages of contemplation

Let us take our stand on secure ground, leaning with all our strength on Christ, the most solid rock, according to the words: He set my feet on a rock and guided my steps. Thus firmly established, let us begin to contemplate, to see what he is saying to us and what reply we ought to make to his charges.

The first stage of contemplation, my dear brothers, is constantly to consider what God wants, what is pleasing to him, and what is acceptable in his eyes. We all offend in many things; our strength cannot match the rectitude of God’s will, being neither one with it nor wholly in accord with it; let us then humble ourselves under the powerful hand of the most high God and be concerned to show ourselves unworthy before his merciful gaze, saying: Heal me, Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved. And again, Lord have mercy on me; heal my soul because I have sinned against you.

Once the eye of the soul has been purified by such considerations we no longer abide within our own spirit in a sense of sorrow, but abide rather in the Spirit of God with great delight. No longer do we consider what is the will of God for us, but rather what it is in itself. For our life is in his will. Thus we are convinced that what is according to his will is in every way more advantageous and fitting for us. And so, concerned as we are to preserve the life of our soul, we should be equally concerned, insofar as we can, not to deviate from his will.

Thus having made some progress in our spiritual exercise under the guidance of the Spirit who searches the deep things of God, let us reflect how sweet is the Lord and how good he is in himself; in the words of the prophet let us pray to see God’s will; no longer shall we frequent our own hearts but his temple. At the same time we shall say: My soul is humbled within me, therefore I shall be mindful of you.

The whole of the spiritual life consists of these two elements. When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with a salutary sadness. And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit. From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second hope and love.

Move the Hands of God by Prayer

In the silence God invites without words.  My prayers are often noisy affairs filled with faces, memories, love and feelings of sorrow.  I am often overwhelmed and moved to tears by the poignancy of a fleeting thought. My heart tells me that what seems insignificant holds a treasure.  God’s gifts often come in disguise like the beggar at the door who is Christ.  The Spirit says minister here in this place at this time; reach back through the years to move the hand of God by prayer.

I am with God, the Lord of All, including Time.  I may have missed or misused moments to do good, but God reigns in Eternity, as present in the Past as He is in my heartbeat.  God’s hands are not tied by the flow of Time.  He is there and here and Eternal Now.  My lowly prayer, clothed in The Name, breaks down the wall that stands between my need or regret, and blessing.  Like the little donkey that carried the King of Kings, my humble prayer sets in motion the flow of grace to love, to heal, to mend, to restore and bless anew.

Joann Nelander

Folly’s Zeal

Immodest child,
Immoderate man,
So, you think to slay dragons,
By wit and prowess,
Armed with nature’s sword.

You think it cruel
And mean-spirited,
That a “good” God
Choose to temper you,
By merciful humiliation.

He thwarts your inventions,
And plans of glory.
“All for God,” your dream,
Yet you are at the center,
With your well-chosen cross.

“Indiscreet zeal”
Immature man,
Undone by impatience,
Intemperance,
And swollen pride.

Each day God waits
Supplies the Way,
Plans a day
Filled to the brim
With humility’s simplicity.

Abandonment,
Acceptance,
Both arrow and bow,
To hit the mark
Marked out by Love.

copyright 2014 Joann Nelander

Acknowledgement:

In a chapter called, “Immature Zeal” Ralph Martin points out the effectiveness overtime of “ordinary grace” and “common life,” in his book, The Fulfillment of All Desires, a Guidebook to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints.

Ralph quotes Sts. Teresa of Avila and Bernard to point out our folly in relying inordinately on ourselves to become holy and to do great things for God, both early in the spiritual life, and later on, when temptations are subtler.

Courts of Praise # Poetry #Prayer #Praise

This poem was written to express celebration at Easter.  Every ordinary day is so full of God’s choice blessings, that praise should flow from every corner of the earth. In the deepest darkness, may hope arise through praise of God.

I invite you to linger a while and add a stanza.

Courts of Praise

Thank you, my Lord, for my life long,
For beloved family and friends,
And all dear hearts touching mine.

My treasure trove of souls
Spills far beyond my time
To number as my own
Those who have gone before,
Your saints of ages past,
The cloud of witnesses on high
And pure angelic beings
In realms veiled from the eye.

There never was a day
In which I was alone,
Nor forgotten
Before Your throne.

There, at Your feet,
All heaven sweet anthems raise,
To set celestial hearts ablaze.
My heart, in chorus,
Swells, dilating in love,
Grown great in gratitude.

Beside Your All Love,
I make small return.
You count my debt as paid,
And bid me enter courts of praise.

©2011 Joann Nelander

Empowered #Poetry #Religion # Prayer

It is not my prayer.
It is our prayer.
I pray with the Church.
I am one among all,
All Yours,
All giving voice
To the Church Militant,

Called by Your Name,
HaShem, the Name!

Empowered by the Name,
HaShem, the Name.

Copyright Joann Nelander © 2011 All rights reserved