A poem that I wrote last week and performed last night:
I’ve been experiencing a flush of creativity recently – sparked and fostered by weekly open mic evenings at a local (The Bull and Sun in Bridlington, every Tuesday night from 8pm – be great to see you there!).
I’ve always found creative writing a good way to express myself – especially for capturing and processing strong feelings or experiences. But I’ve not been very disciplined at making space for this – and I’ve only rarely shared anything that I’ve written – until recently. Open mic has become a weekly point of inspiration for me as I listen to others perform, and a fantastic space to write and perform for.
Over the last few weeks I’ve taken to carrying a note book with me pretty much everywhere I go – using it to capture flashes and ideas, to play with phrases and feelings and shape them into meaning. I’m loving it. Inspired each week by hearing others perform, and having a point to aim at for regularly sharing something of my own creative efforts has been really life giving. Its such a friendly and encouraging community, and always a great night out – I highly recommend it!
This poem started life during an evening gathering at Christ Church. I love the space when everyone around is singing – I join in, I stand in silence, I sit in contemplation. For me, writing poetry is always a kind of prayer – and this poem is absolutely a prayer. Maranatha is an ancient word (or rather a joining of 2 words) that means something like ‘Come Lord’, or ‘Our Lord has come’. It was used by early Christians in this dual kind of way – as a reminder of hope (‘our Lord has come’) and as a sort of longing prayer that is looking to Jesus returning to make all things new (‘Come Lord!’). For me this isn’t just an interesting ancient word – it captures an important element of my living faith:
“Like the early Christians who used maranatha as a special word to express their longing for Jesus to return, the “blessed hope” of His Second Coming (Titus 2:13) still burns brightly in our hearts.”https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/what-does-maranatha-mean
My thinking on this has shifted from the ideas I was brought up with, which could probably be summarised as ‘the world is bad and one day Jesus will come back to rescue us from it’. But through some of my study, hearing new ideas, and my own growing sense of who God is and how God interacts with creation (if you want a list of references then drop a comment) I now have a much bigger picture of what maranatha means, and who (or what) might pray this word of hopeful longing. My thinking now draws much more on Bible verses like Romans 8, which talks about all creation groaning for redemption, and a bigger vision of what it could mean that ‘God so loved the world’ (could it really mean the whole world – not just humanity, but the more than human world too?).
My poem, Maranatha, imagines the whole world – not just humanity (though we are included) – crying out with longing and hope for redemption. When writing it I was thinking about the global climate crisis, our human habits of extracting resources for our consumption rather than treasuring and tending, our reckless destruction on massive scales. I was also thinking of the specific local outworking of this: the council workers who sprayed weed killer on a patch of earth outside my house (where I have sown wildflower seeds 3 times now), leaving it bare and empty; the trees that we walk past every day on the way to school, only planted recently most of the saplings have now been snapped and broken. I feel the prayer, maranatha, welling up in me – a longing for justice and peace, for restoration and wholeness, for right relationships, for love to reign. And I imagine the trees, the seas, the earth itself joining in that prayer – ‘groaning for redemption’.