Saturday, December 1, 2012

Catacombs, 1961

I have this thing for poetry. It just makes me happy. Last night I spent a good bit of time in our school library perusing the devotional reading aisle for some good poetry steeped in the Word. I pulled dusty anthology after dusty anthology off the shelves. When I opened them the brown pages cracked with age, maybe because these verses haven't been read since rocking grandmothers, cracked with age, were perusing these same shelves for grace-filled song when they were here as students.

I walked away with a tinge of sadness, my royal blue fleece speckled with the remains of once-loved poetry collections, but also with a sense of wonder and privilege that I could choose to share in the rich heritage of devotional poetry. This one I read this morning, and though few have read the verses in the past decades, the pictures it evokes still happens here on this campus in our own basement prayer chapel.

Catacombs, 1961
by E. Margaret Clarkson

The hush of early morn, the muted tread
Of steps descending through the dismal hall,
Where lowering pipes press down from overhead
To crowd a dingy, close-encircling wall;
A creaking door, a drab, forbidding room,
And lo, a sudden glory on the air -
A warmth, a oneness, banishes the gloom
As hearts unite in fellowship of prayer.

Simply they pray, around an open Book,
As talking with a trusted friend and dear;
Doubts are dispelled before faith's upward look,
and burdens fall, and peace displaces fear.
Once, clothed with power of just such lowly birth,
A humble few went forth to shake the earth.

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