“For so I believe…”

On the occasion of my birthday, a poetic biblical and personal reflection à la the Apostle Paul and Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

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We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us – 2 Corinthians 4.7

‘Tis treasure, this life to share
with all who dwell this solar island earth,
in whate’er their lands, race, or clan,
whether native-born or émigré,
whate’er their faith or none,
their persuasions or convictions.
For they, we all are of one God-breathed race
with human face;
for so I believe…

‘Tis treasure, this life to bear
whether the day be sunlit or shadowed,
the wind, balmy breeze or mighty bluster,
the waters, tranquil or tempest-tossed,
whether the voice I hear is a known call or a stranger’s cry,
and the hand extended, in help (to me) or in need (of me).
For none is self-made
and all arrive at whate’er stage or state or place of life
by the grace of the aid of others;
for so I believe…

‘Tis treasure, this life to care
for all creation.
For the One God hath made one all things;
for so I believe…

Thus, in celebrating my birth,
I pledge this day
in the words of Charles Wesley:

Lord, in the strength of grace,
with a glad heart and true,
myself, my residue of days,
I consecrate to You.

5 thoughts on ““For so I believe…”

  1. A very happy birthday, Paul. Thank you for your reflection on the oneness of humanity and Creation. I believe more and more people are beginning to recognize that integral wholeness as the underlying truth of the Gospel, that God’s loving creativity and care underlie all things, all people. When we humans can perceive and respond in kind to that abiding, generative love, we follow Christ as children of God. May we all move toward pledging our hearts, our days, our energy, our all to that effort, as you reaffirmed on this the anniversary of your coming into being on earth. May you have a blessed day and a joyful celebration.

    Much love,

    Karen

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  2. This is truly amazing!! We have to love all and be there for all!! So awesome that you’d publish this on your birthday!! I hope we all learn to care more for creation! What a horrible state we will find ourselves in if we don’t. Thank you for writing this on your natal day – an incredible poem! I believe…. and I believe that there’s a book of poetry in you!!
    much love and Happy Birthday!!

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  3. My dearest Karen and Loretta, in reading your comments (as oft happens, I am taken to another, a deeper place of mine own self-understanding, which is to say, a place of clearer consciousness of what I sought to get at in writing, thus, of which, in the initial writing and posting, I was not wholly aware), I realize that this birthday post was…is the pouring out of my hope – my anticipation, my expectation, my wish, my desiring – in the face of all that I behold to the contrary in our world.

    For, yes, Karen, I would like to believe, as you, that “…more and more people are beginning to recognize that integral wholeness as the underlying truth of the Gospel, that God’s loving creativity and care underlie all things, all people.”

    And, yes, Loretta, I, as you, “…hope we all learn to care more for creation!”

    Still, as I must be honest with you – and with myself – I oft feel, fear that the partisan tenor of our times flies in the face of our human acknowledgement and acceptance, embrace and embodiment of “integral wholeness” and “care for creation.” As I look at our world and listen to the voices of those in power, I see and hear the advocacy of hyper-self-interest and the elevation of the idea and practice of the separation of “us” and “them.” Surely, none of this is new. It hath been and is part and parcel, I believe, of our human existence from time immemorial. Nevertheless, I am saddened by what I perceive as a lack of movement toward what I consider the good evolution toward the view of our oneness with all that is.

    Again, I hope and grieve and hope again and, thus write.

    Love

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    1. Dear Paul,

      I have to say I can’t dispute what you say about the tenor of our times and the voices of many of those in leadership here and around the world. These are in many ways dark times where “the worst are full of passionate intensity,” as Yeats concluded in “The Second Coming.” But I also observe that there are many who are profoundly troubled by the stark self-interest, the division, the greed, the arrogance so unashamedly on display and are responding by doubling down on the things that matter, speaking truths, seeking relationships across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic boundaries, and demanding justice for those long oppressed. I do see hope; it may be in the long term, but I believe it is alive and active.

      I think you know my attachment to the idea that God has no hands but our hands. Today I was in the library and passed by a children’s book display. There was a very large book in the center of the display, and the title was “We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands.” I read the title as I passed by and almost immediately felt goosebumps rise on my skin. My first thought was that there are probably a lot of people who would be offended by that title and that idea, but I can’t tell you how happy it made me to realize that there are people who are now realizing the truth of that statement, both practically and theologically, and are talking about it with children. I do hope that Sunday school and children’s choirs in at least some churches are now adding that book title as a new verse to “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” if they still sing that old song.

      As humans we are capable of so much evil, but we are also capable of so much good. I think sometimes we are afraid of our power for good, as if we as mere mortals really shouldn’t be arrogant enough to take on the work we think only God is holy enough to perform: the work of justice, the work of love, the work of healing, of restoration, of unifying, of welcoming, of caring for Creation. And yet, that is how our world will survive these times; if we take God’s hands, the ones at the ends of our own arms, and do the work.

      I hope your birthday was wonderful, Paul. May the next year be fulfilling and filled with things that satisfy your soul.

      Much love,

      Karen

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  4. Ah, bless you, Karen, and I thank you for your words of encouragement, aye, inspiration. I, as you, hope; especially in moments when the forces of darkness and evil – that divide and demean and destroy – seem (are!) ascendant on the world’s center stages of power. I write “especially,” for in such moments when I am given to despair of better outcomes, I remember – and this is where your encouragement and inspiration help me – what is the nature of hope: That capacity and willingness to see that which is not and to labor to bring to life that which hath come to light in mind and heart, soul and spirit. Again, bless you. Thank you.

    Love you

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