We are in for a treat today. Dave Strunk, lead pastor—Church of the Redeemer in Blount County, Tennessee—graciously agreed to share a couple of his poems with us. I can already sense the eye-rolling that may be going on by some of you, but please keep reading. If poetry is not your thing, that is okay, but it does not mean there is not value in dabbling in it occasionally. Poems have a way of looking at life that sometimes is missed. This genre has a way of speaking to the heart, which is one of the reasons the Psalms are such favorites. Today’s blog post is an opportunity for poetry fans to take great delight and for those of us who are not lovers of this genre to wade in without becoming overwhelmed. We will all be able to relate to the topics that Dave touches on including the beauty of persuasion, the inadequacies of our own management techniques, and the definition of true rest. With each poem an image is included along with a brief explanation (provided by Dave) of the poem to follow. Read through these a couple of times and enjoy.
EMILY’S SLANT UPDATED
This poem, a sonnet inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poem “Tell All the Truth but Tell it Slant”, is about how so few people in American life seek to persuade people anymore. It’s ranting, yelling, and social media posts as the dominant form of cultural discourse. And so this poem reflects on what it would take to actually change someone’s mind with the Truth.
Our love is gone that would persuade,
With pathos narrowed to the rant,
And ethos in our screens mislaid.
No ego mild will so recant
An earnest vice, unjustly weighed,
That smothers with a sick mob’s chant.
To change a mind has seemed to fade,
Unless the Truth be told with slant.
If light were shot straight to the eyes,
A squint or turning of the back
Obscures the shade’s more sightly lies.
If to the Good we would attract,
And Beauty cherished by surprise,
The Truth through prism must refract.
This poem was written during a time of serious struggle that was filled with much uncertainty regarding how to lead. My go-to instinct is to strategize and manage my way out of my problems, but one morning I sat staring at this fog over the lake, which calmed my anxiety, and I felt God’s gentle invitation to unknowing.
This hov’ring fog spans o’er the lake,
Its morning appetite to slake.
The misty haze will not endure
When sunshine dons his rays to bake.
For now the chilly clouds obscure
Some favored views, yet still allure
By stillness of their mystic veil.
Contented, I, to wait unsure.
No hurried wish, no soulful wail,
Will blow away with force of gale
The stubborn smoke that blurs the sight
And also soothes the needless sail.
When to the future I’d alight,
But cannot see through anxious fright,
The lifting fog portends respite
But first subdues my foolish might.
I SLEEP BUT CANNOT FIND MY REST
This poem is about how the biggest obstacle to rest is myself, and no exterior accoutrements can give me the rest I need, except ultimately God Himself.
I sleep but cannot find my rest;
In slumber, true, yet still distressed.
My nocturne Sabbath often marred
In want of solace I need best.
I cease from labor, soft or hard,
Relax by book or tale of bard.
It does no good, this tack I take.
My heart, my mind, cannot ritard.
A trip to sea or glassy lake
Does not abate this inner quake.
No blithe escape could ever sweep
Away my past’s accrued mistakes.
For I am with me, and I keep
The cross within to rend or reap.
But Rest that’s coming shall be deep,
And Rest that’s coming shall be deep.
Dave Strunk is originally from Knoxville, and like many, an ardent fan of UT sports.
Dave is married to Laura and they have three kids: Lucy, Maisie, and Davey. Dave loves reading,
gardening, and playing with his kiddos. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org