Monday, March 26, 2007

In the House of the Lord Forever

On Friday night, I somewhat begrudgingly attended a poetry reading on campus. You never know how these things are going to turn out. Nowadays, it seems that the more obscure and abstract a poem is, the greater it is praised (what happened to poetry that actually speaks to people?). So, I expected to sit there with a "What the hell?" look on my face for about an hour and then go home. But, I was pleasantly surprised. The poetry that was presented that night was very articulate and engaging, clear but without being too simple. Happily, many of the poems were of Christian interest too.

One of the two presenters was Dr. Eric A. Potter (no relation to Harry), Associate Professor of English at Grove City College. Of the many poems that he presented, one in particular seemed to resonate with everyone in the room. In this poem, entitled "In the House of the Lord Forever," he expresses a sentiment that I think a lot of us feel when we read the Psalms. King David is often very easy to relate to through his psalms. After all, he expresses the whole range of emotions of man in relationship with God: sorrow, frustration, hope, joy, anger, repentance, love.

But, what happens when we don't feel as he feels? What if I have never felt the hope in the Lord that David posesses? What if I have never languished over my sin, never felt sorrow and repentance for my sin to the degree that David does? What if I have never felt David's courage, or David's love of the Lord? Am I too a man after God's own heart? David's psalms can comfort us, but they can also convict us. David is our example, and if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we do not always live up to it.

Dr. Potter's poem is an expression of this honesty, and he has graciously allowed me to share it here. Let me know what you think.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - - - - -

In the House of the Lord Forever
Dr. Eric A. Potter -- Grove City College
The Lord is (supposed to be) my shepherd;
I should not want, though I often do.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still waters,
yet my heart still longs to run the rapids.

He restoreth my soul,
over and over because I keep defacing it;
he leadeth me--stiff-legged and halting--in the paths
of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I may fear no evil, but I will worry chronically,
although thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they confine me.

Thou preparest a table before me,
still I turn up my nose at the menu,
and the presence of my enemies distracts me.
Thou anointest my head with oil,
which drips in my eyes and runs down my back
while I dab at the spill from my over-full cup.

Surely goodness and mercy should
abandon me for my ingratitude,
but they shall hound me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell (in spite of my self)
in the house of the Lord forever.

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