Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Taking every snake captive...

Snake Bite
by Beverly Ewart

The only thing preventing me from picking up a snake these days is the thought of the tetanus shot. Used to be I could pick up a snake as quickly and easily as anybody – but not anymore. Not since the tetanus shot. I'm not afraid of snakes, but the thought of the tetanus shot gives me great panic and anxiety.

I have a dear friend who feels great panic and anxiety about snakes, believe it or not, yet she is cool as snakes about shots and any other various and sundry medical procedures. When we walk together she always asks that I warn her if I see a snake, and I always hope secretly that I will see a snake. She thinks that snakes are attracted to her, since she loathes them, and I hope they are – since we walk together fairly
regularly. I think snakes are loathe to come near me, since they know I am attracted to them. They seem to be like cats in that regard.

In fact, the last time we walked together – sure enough – we saw a snake! My friend heard it first (how you hear a snake is beyond me – I guess you hear what you are listening for). She reacted by squeaking loudly and hiding behind me and I reacted by lunging for the snake – until I remembered two things: One – the tetanus shot. Two – I was supposed to be PROTECTING my friend! I got carried away in the excitement of the moment and became entirely selfish! (Lest you think my friend was behaving in a cowardly manner, let me remind you that, if she were taking me in for a tetanus shot I would not only have been squeaking and hiding, I would also have been crying and passing out!)

There is something so satisfying about a fistful of snake! Since the time I was five- years-old and found myself in a nest of snakes on an island in Lake George, I have always taken delight in catching (and releasing) snakes.  However, the last time I caught a snake, I was bitten! (Why that never happened earlier is just grace, I suppose,  and  I'm glad that snake wasn't a rattlesnake.) Coincidentally, a few days prior to being bitten, I had been notified that my tetanus booster had expired. When I called to make an appointment for my booster the day after my snake-bite, the nurse informed me they were short on the vaccine, and could only give shots in an emergency. I was very gracious and told the nurse I had no problem with waiting however long it took. But then the nurse added this:

“You haven't had a recent puncture wound, have you?”

I laughed – still relieved... until I thought of something: Snake bite! Did that count as a puncture-wound? Did I have to tell her? What if it DOES count? What if I get tetanus and die just because I neglected to mention my recent snake bite? Maybe it wouldn't count... It wouldn't. It wasn't a rusty nail or anything sinister like that – it was just a snake bite, and the snake seemed pretty healthy – spunky, even.

“Does a snake bite count?” I asked, sort of laughing like I knew it didn't and was just joking.

“A SNAKE BITE?!” she exclaimed.

“Well – it wasn't a POISONOUS snake,” I said, “it was just a small snake that bit me when I picked it up in the woods yesterday.”

“You had better come in,” she said. “A snake bite counts as a puncture wound.”

I'm more cautious now.  When I take “snake walks,” I bring gloves.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For Ash Wednesday

by Beverly Ewart

Have mercy, Lord, on blind Bartimaeus -
I've been living in darkness for so long.
I sit by the roadside, hidden by dust

swirling around me, churned up by the thrust
of the feet of the passing, negligent throngs.
Have mercy, Lord, on blind Bartimaeus.

I can't see you, but you'll hear me – you must!
My eyes have no sight, but my voice has grown strong.
I sit by the roadside, hidden by dust,

and the blessed well-dressed might drop a stale crust.
The righteous look past me as they move along.
Have mercy, Lord, on blind Bartimaeus!

Passers-by hear me and tell me to hush! call for your notice importunate, wrong.
I sit by the roadside, hidden by dust.

But the Teacher HAS heard... he calls over the crush,
What do you want me to do for you, Son?”
Have mercy, Lord, on blind Bartimaeus,
I sit by the roadside, hidden by dust.”
The story of Bartimaeus is found in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10: 46-52.
 As a father has compassion on his children, 
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
for he knows how we are formed, 
   he remembers that we are dust. 
Psalm 103:13-14 (NIV)

Monday, February 20, 2012

by Beverly Ewart

On the hot ground,
abandoned tears -
wrung out and left
to disappear -
are tiny rings
of congealed dust
that testify
to tortured trust.

In the night,
on bones of tears,
the fluid flesh
takes shape – appears.
That dusty place,
as dawn draws near,
shall drink of springs
that once were tears.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vernal Villanelle

Evening and morning were the first day,
sweet repose arose to activity;
a stony, fallow field to seed gave way,

and life, interred to sleep the frost away,
roused in the warm light of nativity.
Evening and morning were the first day.

Spring's descent through the landscape, bright and fey,
unlocked the gates of winter's penury;
a stony, fallow field to seed gave way.

Everything seemed lifeless, cold and gray,
but life was still – simply sleeping deeply.
Evening and morning were the first day.

The buried dead awoke with the first warm ray
of vernal sun, and woke the sleeping trees...
a stony, fallow field to seed gave way.

Spring laid living flesh on bones of decay,
from the blighted barren she birthed bounty;
evening and morning were the first day,
a stony, fallow field to seed gave way.

Monday, January 30, 2012


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

When I think of fruit I naturally picture a tree – which reminds me of Psalm 1, which begins:  Blessed is the one  who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take  or sit in the company of mockers,  but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,  and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,  which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—  whatever they do prospers.  The blessed person is one who takes deep nourishment from the word of God, which informs all he is and does.  That person TRUSTS that God’s word truly represents God’s character and is life-giving.  Jesus himself was referred to as the Word  in the Gospel of John:   The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14. 

Thinking about patience, I realized that TRUST is absolutely necessary if the green fruit is ever to become ripe enough to harvest -   trust that God’s Word speaks true in every situation.

Once there was a couple that lived in a garden full of fruit-bearing trees.  Every tree was at their disposal to harvest and enjoy.  EVERY tree but one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God planted the garden they lived in and walked with them there daily – and God warned them that, if they did eat the fruit of that tree, they would die.  God’s word. True in every situation.

When I was a child our yard had a few apple trees growing in it.  One spring day I discovered a perfectly whole robin’s egg at the base of one of those trees.  To me, robins' eggs were tiny blue miracles,  like magic boxes containing  living creatures - baby robins.  Here was a perfect magical specimen right at my feet – here was my opportunity to have my very own pet robin!  As I picked it up and looked more closely, I found a hairline fracture in the shell…  No problem.  Actually, I could help myself have a pet baby robin more quickly if I helped him with hatching.  If I could get my fingernail into that little crack in the shell I could carefully remove the shell and set my new pet free.  Yet…  my inner voice was saying quite clearly, “leave it where you found it.  Only a mother robin can hatch this egg.  If you peel it you might kill it!”  Robins, robins everywhere…  But only one I wanted.   

The couple in that garden didn’t need any inner voice to give direction.  They had God in PERSON to guide them in everything they did.  God was there to give his word about what was right and what was wrong…  And everything was right!  There was only ONE “no” for them – everything else was YES!  The “no” concerned one fruit out of multitudes – that from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Why would they need the knowledge of what was right and what was wrong when God walked with them daily?  When everything that was, was proclaimed by God’s word to be “good” and they themselves were proclaimed “very good!”

I looked again at my magical blue egg and I made my decision.  I was having a pet robin NOW.  I would free it VERY carefully.  Surely it wouldn’t die?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Genesis 3:1-5.  

Very, very slowly and painstakingly I pried the shell off my new pet robin.  I was trembling with excitement  - and with  fear that I might hurt him (because of my inner voice).  But as the space grew in the midst of the blue, what I beheld was not a new bird, but a veined and bloody beating heart.  I was horrified.  I quickly put down the egg and ran away in tears.  Obviously what I had done haunts me to this day!

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  Genesis 3:8-10.

It seems to me that, whenever I have done wrong, it has been because I haven’t trusted God’s word (or even my own conscience – before I knew God).  I didn’t have the patience to wait for what I wanted so I took things into my own hands.  I took control.  For patience to grow in us, we need to trust that what we want is worth the wait or the effort we must invest in order to achieve it.  If what we want is for God to be honored in and through us and to walk with God through life and beyond death, we have to trust that God is in control.

Control has not been any less an issue for me since becoming a Christian.  Two years ago –  a more recent springtime – another baby bird suffered at my well-meaning hands.  A baby Blue Jay had fallen from its nest near the edge of an in-ground swimming pool enclosed by a tall fence.  The pool had been covered, but the melting snow and rain had half-filled the cover with cold,  brackish water that was quite deep.  Mother Blue Jay was calling her baby away from danger, but I thought I could do the job more efficiently.  I took control because I wanted an IMMEDIATE happy ending.  I entered the enclosure and began to herd the baby bird toward the open gate.  It took quite awhile, but eventually I got the little guy to hop out the gate.  Phew!  But suddenly – for no apparent reason – my prodigy tried his wings and flew straight back – INTO THE POOL!  I frantically tried to reach him with my hand, then a broom, then – when he started to sink – I even jumped in that pool and slid down the cover into the cold, slimy water!  I pulled the bird from the water, but couldn’t get myself out of the pool!  Fortunately my husband was within shouting range (his counsel had been to leave the Blue Jays alone) and came to my rescue.  But it was too late for the little Blue Jay. 

I grow impatient with people.  Many years ago, at the dinner table with my own family, I was complaining about the behavior of a co-worker that was really negatively affecting my job and my well-being at work.  This was one of those “mean people” about whom they have written a bumper sticker.  You meet them everywhere – even at church.  But after my rant, my four-year-old Alyssa asked me, “Mommy, does that mean Jesus doesn’t love them anymore?”

Paul wrote: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?  Romans 2:1-4.

Think about the blue jay – about the unhatched robin…  those are just fragments of examples of what happens globally daily!  Haven’t we all wrestled with the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  Have you never felt frustrated and impatient with politicians or oil spills or the health-care system or drug trafficking or terrorism or racism, etc…?  Who is in control

One day I was reading an account of the Japanese invasion of  Nanking (Nanjing) during WWII.  There was a black and white photo of a baby screaming in the rubble of what had been the city where he lived.  He was alone.  For me he was an icon of that question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  I was FURIOUS!  I began to yell at God – truly yell, and cry tears of pure rage.  I threw a tantrum in the privacy of my living room – but God was there.  When I paused for breath I suddenly had an image in my mind of God’s hand poised to strike the army that bombed that city and left that child an orphan…  But the hand was shaking.  It was shaking with IMMENSE SELF-CONTROL!  And I heard the words in my mind, “If I were to start (repaying evil with immediate justice), where would I stop?  You certainly would not be here.”

Peter wrote: Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 2 Peter 3:15.  God is patient. Being patient does not mean acquiescing to evil, nor am I suggesting that.  God is patient and God is just.  We are to take a stand – but … ”our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12.

Human impatience is usually about not seeing happen what we know instinctively SHOULD happen, so we try to take control.  Take the fruit, save the bird, condemn the person.  This is where we grasp hold of the law on the stone tablet – and crush each other with it.  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16.  Let the One who wrote that Law be the one who enforces it. 

I had a very close relationship with my dad.  After becoming a Christian my junior year of high school it became imperative that my dad do so as well.  For various reasons I reasoned that my mom and sister would follow suit.  But he was the tough one because he had so many strong and intelligent reasons for not believing the Word of God.  No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t convince him!  As years went by I tried introducing him to people by whom I knew he would be impressed (intellectuals).  I reasoned that, if he only could hear what THEY had to say, he would believe.  At Urbana ’87 I even stood in line to speak with Billy Graham – to ask him to write a little note to dad (who respected him very much) on the back of my nametag.  If dad heard from Billy Graham, there was no WAY he would be able to refute God’s Word any more!  Billy Graham graciously scribbled something short and illegible on the back of my nametag.  I was crushed.  No convincing argument or plea, just a Scripture reference (which I couldn’t really make out) and his signature.  Still – I brought it home and gave it to dad as a souvenir.  Over the years since dad and I continued to have heated debates about religion.  Once he took me aside and grabbed my shoulders and said, “I DO believe Jesus is my Lord and Savior – I’m just making sure YOU know what YOU believe!”  But later he would repeat another one of his arguments supporting the anti-intellectualism of Christians in general and why the Bible wasn’t right about certain things.   I never gave up on dad – I kept picking at his shell year after year…

On September 23, 2009 dad had a massive heart attack and died in the ER before I could get there and say good–bye.  I didn’t get to pray with him.  I didn’t get to pray for him.  But dad did ask for me – and he asked for my Pastor…  Which means that he WANTED someone there to pray with him.  And he told my mom (who was with him and had been for 51 years) to “tell the kids I have made my peace with the world and with God.”

After his memorial service, mom found my Urbana ’87 nametag in one of dad’s dresser drawers - he had saved it.  She gave it to me.  I was able to make out the Scripture reference Billy Graham had written on the back.  It was Philippians 1:6 … “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Patience.  It means being confident that God knows what he is doing…  and he is doing it in every situation, every circumstance and every person you will ever encounter.  God is patient with you, too.  Who are we to be impatient with the work of God?  At the beginning of time there was a tree whose fruit tested our patience and our trust and we failed the test.  At the end of that age there was the cross, a tree that bore the fruit of God, Jesus Christ.  Can we wait patiently for God to work in all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28) until the end of THIS age? Jesus said: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:29-31.  God’s Word.  Do you believe Him?

Strangers in the Park

Some stories are meant to be told and retold – to remind us of the most important things – the things we are most likely to forget in the ordinariness of our daily busy lives. When the extraordinary happens we celebrate – in story, song, through the arts. This is my celebration of a time when I saw God move in an extraordinary and a compassionate way – and it reminds me always to be on the lookout for what he’s doing, everywhere I go, in everyone I meet.

Our training session ended for the day and three of my colleagues and I decided to drive down to Liberty Park to see the Tribute in Light at Ground Zero. We were at a retreat center in the mountains of Northern N.J. at the end of March 2002 – it would be our last chance to see the Tribute.

The night was wild. Winds whipped the snow every which way and it was cold – even for someone who lives just below the Canadian border! We had to take twisted wet mountain roads down to the freeway, and felt a little nervous. We’d need to at least drive the speed limit in order to get to the Park before closing – which we thought was 11PM. My friends asked me to pray for us before we pulled out of the drive.

Earlier that morning I had been encouraged to pray very specifically by something I’d read in my time alone with God. So, as I prayed for safety for us, I added a prayer that God would give us a divine appointment – that He would cross our path with someone who needed a word or touch from Him. Frankly, I felt quite confident praying that way, because I was picturing a park full of hundreds of grief-stricken people! All four of us said “Amen,” and we were on our way.

We arrived at Liberty Park a little after 10PM. No one else was there, much to our surprise! The Statue of Liberty stood off to our right – an oasis of light in the darkness and swirling snow. She was lovely. The Tribute appeared in front of us, and we fell silent – solemn… Sad. The parking lot recommended to us by friends from the City was closed, so we turned down another road in the strangely deserted park. At the intersection of these roads a sign had been blown over face down by the wind.

Not very far along the road, a long white police van pulled out in front of us. This was a welcome sight, because we weren’t sure where to leave the car. The officer rolled down his window as we rolled down ours, and we asked him for his suggestion. He suggested that we leave – the park closed at 9PM! We should have known, he said, because we’d driven right past the “PARK CLOSED – DO NOT ENTER” sign! (The sign that had blown over in the wind.) We apologized and explained that we’d not seen the sign, and asked if we could just take a couple of pictures and then leave – we’d come a long way… The officer very graciously gave us permission to take a few pictures and then leave immediately, and showed us where to park.

The wind was powerful, whipping across the water. We talked quietly – reverently. The Tribute was beautiful, two great beacons of light stretching far past the lights of Manhattan into the heavy clouds. Gerry set up his tripod in the dark, fumbling with frozen fingers to get the proper lens on his camera. All of us shivered in the cold.

Gerry snapped a number of photos and each time the snowflakes swirling in the air around him were lit by the flash like miniature fireworks. My mind holds that image as clearly as the image of the twin beacons of light – frozen moments – poignant memories.

As the camera was being put away, another police van pulled alongside us. This time I thought we were in trouble – that the officer we’d spoken with had forgotten to let the others know he’d given us permission to take photos. As the young officer in the van rolled down his window, I thought he was going to tell us we were trespassing. Instead, he called out to us with laughter, “This is a strange way to be spending Spring Break!”

We laughed and walked over to the van to explain that we were just leaving. Instead of rolling up his window and driving away, he began to tell us his story.

On the morning of September 11 he had been sitting right where we were standing, supervising a detail of prisoners as they worked in the park. He heard a plane roar in, deafeningly close, and looked up to see it strike the first Tower. Immediately he called his mother’s office – she worked across from the Towers – and told her colleagues to evacuate the building no matter what anyone else said – he felt the act had been deliberate. Half of her building collapsed later when the Towers fell.

He told us of the terror everyone felt when the second plane hit and all went black. Over the radio they began to hear of the Pentagon strike and the President being evacuated. Literally, they (Police and prisoners) thought they were witnessing the end of the world. The prisoners begged to be released. He handcuffed them, loaded them into the van and drove them to the nearest holding facility. Three hours after the first plane struck, he was at Ground Zero helping to comb through the rubble for survivors.

He was still having nightmares, he told us. Describing in detail the horrific sights of that day, he told us that many people like him were beginning to break down. We could understand why. Among other things, he had pulled the torso of a young woman from the wreckage! In my heart and mind I felt an overpowering urge to pray for this man. This had to be the “Divine Appointment!” Especially when he revealed that this was his last night at the park… And we shouldn’t even have been there at all! If the “PARK CLOSED – DO NOT ENTER” sign had not blown over on its face, we wouldn’t have been.

After what seemed like quite a while (standing as we were in the cold), he paused for breath… My colleague Joel took the moment to ask his name. I’ll call him “Bob.” At that moment I asked, “Bob, you have been through so much, do you mind if we pray for you?” His whole demeanor relaxed and he acted as if we’d just offered him a generous gift. As I prayed for him, Joel silently prayed for me – that the words I prayed would not be mine, but God’s – just for Bob.

When I finished praying, Bob asked us to wait a minute while he drove back to his office to get us maps of the park. He told us enthusiastically that we should come back “when the park is open!” Just as he left us, the Tribute shut off for the night – it was 11PM. We walked back to the car – by this time absolutely FROZEN… and waited for him to return. When he pulled up behind us, Gerry got out to take the maps from him – but he came to us instead. He came to where I was sitting and I opened the car door… he handed me a hard hat. “I wore this that morning,” he said, “the 11th – as I was trying to help find survivors… I want you to have it. I’m ready to part with it now.” I was overwhelmed. As he walked back to his van I thought desperately that I wanted to give him something, too, but I had nothing with me!

I slapped at my coat pockets – I don’t know what I thought I might find except used tissues – but I hit something small, a tin of mints my son had given me for my birthday just over a week before. They were mints he’d bought at a Christian bookstore, and I knew they had scripture written on the inside cover of the tin. I was just going with the flow of what was happening, and figured the Scripture would somehow have to be just the word Bob needed to have from God, so I got out of the car and ran back to the van just as Bob was getting in. “Bob,” I said, “I don’t have anything to give you like what you’ve just given me, but this tin of mints is precious to me because my son gave it to me for my birthday – there are words written on the inside of the tin that I want you to be sure to read.” Bob took the tin from me and we parted. I never saw him again, but I have never forgotten him.

God had so obviously set the whole thing up! We celebrated in the car and told our story to our colleagues when we returned to the retreat center a little after midnight.

The scriptures on the inside of that treasured tin of mints? Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Little Wind

A Little Wind
by Beverly Ewart 

A little wind wafts a seed over plains
and tickles clouds until they rain.
A little wind can make the sun come out again.
A little wind will help the seed to grow,
will drop it in the perfect hole,
then fly away to brush the earth from pole to pole.
And when there's snow, that wind will circle back;
unseen, the frosted soil attack,
and warm the frozen ground to make the brown husk crack.
The pale flicker will become a seedling,
and then a tender stalk of green,
and then, the mighty oak – a majestic being!

The heart is stirred by just a little wind.
A little hope stirred will begin
a mighty prayer of faith to move that oak again...
Like our God, we are compelled by chaos
to harbor those storm-tossed,
and make a shelter in the desert for the lost.
The wind that brought to us this mighty oak,
that holy Wind we now invoke
to transplant our shade to where there is no hope;
to carry to our neighbor's empty hands
this fruitful tree, our mighty friend,
to be a shelter from the storm in that dry land.
So, let our praying move the Wind of God
to lift out rocks and break the sod -
let that Wind move us to commend you to the Lord.

A little wind will bring a little rain
to soften earth and ease the pain
of that transplanted oak on the barren plain.
And great will be the fruit of that great tree!
A little wind may blow to me
the news of just how rich the harvest comes to be.



by Beverly Ewart

Almost excremental,
in appearance, elemental,
hopping hazardously before my mower blade;

a clump of lumpy brown
so far below me, on the ground:
Fragile-skinned amphibian making for the shade.

I shut off the mower
and do all that's in my power
to search for a refuge from destruction for the toad.

A person looking on
laughs at the antics on my lawn,
but I revere a creature who looks at life through eyes of gold.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Unauthorized Vehicle

by Beverly Ewart

KEEP OFF MERIDIAN, the sign says.
Every car following car following
 car obliquely salutes with OBEDIENCE.

The sun warms our red van
  and I have
    meridian dreams.

I WOULD stop
if I saw a turtle
  or a stranded cat....

... My mind wanders all over that meridian,
             where there might be money in the grass,
or a smooth snake disappearing around a bush,
   or a note to someone, flown there
      from someone's dash out an open window.

  I can't keep off

Saturday, January 14, 2012


by Beverly Ewart

Over the side,
out into the squall –
sliding down swells
toward the voice and the call.
Behind is the boat,
tossed about on the waves;
inside or out,
we must choose to be brave.

But the weight of these worries
and the weight of the flesh
break the seas surface tension
on the waves foamy crests.

Suddenly sinking
and soaked by our doubts,
we cry out in despair
til someone pulls us out.

Upward the pull;
the weight is removed –
weve been enlightened
by the strength of Gods love.
Buoyed by hope
and the grip of Gods hand,
we purposely, weightlessly
stride toward dry land.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Beverly Ewart

In the middle ages people were fascinated by the idea of alchemy – of transforming common materials into gold. My own grandfather, Anthony Nerad, was an alchemist of sorts, being the manager of the team that developed man-made diamonds for General Electric. The first diamonds the team made successfully, they made from peanut shells!

My grandfather Tony was a well-known and respected Chemical Engineer, but he was not skeptical about the magic and power of story. He introduced me to the world of literature. I found it in his living room and, like Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, I found it in his attic. It was in the attic that I became acquainted with L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling and Thornton W. Burgess. It was in the attic that I found the ancient family Bible, that Tony had set aside, but with which he found he could not entirely part. As a child I didn't understand that Bible, but I was transfixed by its strange words and brilliant illustrations (which included a unicorn that looked suspiciously like a rhinoceros). In the attic of my grandfather, the scientist, I found magic.

I do believe in magic. In Alchemy. I believe that writing is a kind of alchemy - the transformation of the infinite (ideas) to the finite (words). I suppose this is more like changing diamonds to peanut butter. The glorious ineffable to something more utilitarian. But the glory is not lost in the transformation when done by a skilled wordsmith.

The written word. Ideas made flesh. The ephemeral and multi-dimensional caught in time and space and set down for countless minds to engage. (For more sublime thoughts than mine on this concept, please read Dorothy Sayers' The Mind of the Maker.) This is an alchemy that we have practiced since the first human made an indelible mark on a tree or the face of a sandstone cliff. It is an alchemy that morphs with the centuries, yet the magic is timeless. “The Word became flesh...” Ideas we can see and touch, accept or reject. The Finite Infinite, the Imminent Transcendent. Ideas that have been forged into catalysts for good or evil. The pen is the sword... or the scalpel. From the pen ideas are transformed into perfume, poison, or anesthetic. Powerful, powerful magic. The power to seduce or set free; to change a mind, a plan, or a century. Alchemy.

At the end of his life, my grandfather the scientist returned to the Source of his science. The Word became flesh for him in spirit and in truth. The shell that he had become was transformed into something scintillating, ineffable, and timeless. The Word was not lost on him.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


By Beverly Ewart
At night the angels guard our trust,
apparent in the morning when we wake;
the imprint of their wings lies on the frost

sparkling with the light that shines on us
through each brittle windowpane.
At night the angels guard our trust,

covering our faith through gathering dark,
to be on the ready should it wane ~
the imprint of their wings lies on the frost.

Should the night bring dreams of fear or angst?
Grim forces the angel hosts restrain.
At night the angels guard our trust,

all demonic powers they'll accost!
The glory of the Lord is their refrain,
the imprint of their wings lies on the frost.

For love of God these beings surround us,
hovering guardians of flesh and flame;
at night the angels guard our trust -
the imprint of their wings lies on the frost.