Langston Hughes

In honor of National Black Poetry Day, I am sharing a couple of poems from Langston Hughes.
Harlem, by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Let America Be America Again, by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
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Iconoclastic: reflections on A Grief Observed

I had to look that word up. C.S. Lewis does that to me – makes me look up words. And it’s a good one. Iconoclastic. It means “attacking or ignoring cherished beliefs and long-held traditions, etc.,as being based on error, superstition, or lack of creativity…”

In A Grief Observed, Lewis dives into the necessity of shattering our false ideas about God.

“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?”

And, of course, the main subject of the book is Lewis’ grieving the death of his wife. Therefore the following relates to the image and ‘cherished beliefs’ we have of people being shattered, particularly of loved ones. He wrestles with the fear of loving the memory of her rather than her herself. He loved her iconoclastic reality.

“All reality is iconoclastic. The earthly beloved, even in this life, incessantly triumphs over your mere idea of her. And you want her to; you want her with all her resistances, all her faults, all her unexpectedness.”

Can I swoon for a second? I want a love like that. Love that cherishes the reality of who you are and not the mere idea of you. To have the freedom to contradict the idea of yourself, and still be loved, and loved even more for being real. ❤ How many of us have lost love for not being “what I thought you were” ? Surely then, we were in love with an idea rather than a person.

If indeed we love people and God rather than our ideas of them, it is a relief when our ideas are shattered. What a relief to be shown where we are wrong! Oh, God, I didn’t know! And now “I have come to misunderstand a little less completely,” (Lewis) What a blessing it is to get that much closer to You by destroying my false ideas about You!

“And all this time I may, once more, be building with cards. And if I am He will once more knock the building flat. He will knock it down as often as proves necessary.”

And at the possibility of being even better understood by his wife after her death, he did not shrink back – confident in her love. 

“For this is one of the miracles of love; it gives – to both, but perhaps especially to the woman – a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”

And this intimate knowledge and love is what our Savior Jesus Christ possesses for us.

“His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him.”

Fyodor

I want to say to you, about myself, that I am a child of this age, a child of unfaith and scepticism, and probably (indeed I know it) shall remain so to the end of my life. How dreadfully has it tormented me (and torments me even now) this longing for faith, which is all the stronger for the proofs I have against it. And yet God gives me sometimes moments of perfect peace; in such moments I love and believe that I am loved; in such moments I have formulated my creed, wherein all is clear and holy to me. This creed is extremely simple; here it is: I believe that there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, more rational, more manly, and more perfect than the Saviour; I say to myself with jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but that there could be no one. I would even say more: If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.

Letter To Mme. N. D. Fonvisin (1854), as published in Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to his Family and Friends (1914), translated by Ethel Golburn Mayne, Letter XXI, p. 71

The Quotable Oswald Chambers

Conformed to His Image
“If it cost God Calvary to deal with sin, we have no business to make light of it.”

“Sin is not wrong-doing, it is wrong-being – deliberate and emphatic independence of God.”

“The essence of sin is my claim to my right to myself; it goes deeper than all the sins that were ever committed… The point is, am I prepared deliberately to give up my right to myself to Jesus Christ?”

“I become a ‘Bethlehem’ for the life of the Son of God.”

“Am I willing for my human nature to be sacrificed in order that the life of the Son of God is nourished in me, or do I only want Him to see me through certain difficulties?”

“…as long as man is sufficient for himself, God can do nothing for him.”

“The essence of repentance is that it destroys the lust of self-vindication; where that lust resides, that repentance is not true.”

Reading Wishlist and Favorites

In no particular order…


Books I would like to read:
Jesus for President – Shane Claiborne
The Justice God is Seeking – David Ruis
Changing the World Through Kindness – Steve Sjogren
Everybody Wants to Change the World – Tony Campolo
sub-merge  – John B. Hayes
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Loving People – Dr. John Townsend
The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis
A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
The Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis
George MacDonald: An Anthology – C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Psalms – C.S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis
The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
Autobiography of George Muller
Beren and Lúthien – JRR Tolkien
The Silmarillion – JRR Tolkien
The Healing Presence – Leanne Payne
The Broken image – Leanne Payne
Discipline: The Glad Surrender – Elisabeth Elliot
The Path of Loneliness -Elisabeth Elliot
Be Still My Soul – Elisabeth Elliot
Keep a Quiet Heart – Elisabeth Elliot
..for real, I want to read everything Elisabeth Elliot and C.S. Lewis has written

Some of my favorite books:
*The Holy Bible
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
When Heaven Weeps – Ted Dekker
Godiva – David Rose
These Strange Ashes – Elisabeth Elliot
Let Me Be a Woman – Elisabeth Elliot
One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
When Helping Hurts – Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
The Circle Trilogy – Ted Dekker
Blessed Child – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Man Called Blessed – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Passion & Purity – Elisabeth Elliot
Quest for Love – Elisabeth Elliot
From Brokenness to Community – Jean Vanier
Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life – Robert Lupton
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
Restoring the Christian Soul – Leanne Payne
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien
The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
Boundaries – Henry Cloud, John Townsend
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero
*Conformed to His Image – Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Transitions – William Bridges
Across the Spectrum -Greg Boyd, Paul Eddy
The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God – John Piper
Life as a Vapor – John Piper
Revolution in World Missions – K P  Yohannan

*currently reading

 

What to do with loneliness

I recently read Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion & Purity, and I really want to hold on to the advice given in here.

“What to do with Loneliness” – Elisabeth Elliot

Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste to your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.

Remember that you are not alone. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Jesus promised His disciples, “I am with you always.” (Matt 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness, I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17,18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems like a weight, will be far outweighed by
glory.

Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.

Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God’s peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.