Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I am not a poet, though I have written a handful of poems over the years—one about seagulls, one about determination, and other miscellaneous. The events of this past weekend stirred up the memory of a free-verse time thing I wrote in 1996.

My parents were missionaries in Africa in the ‘30s and ‘40s, and my siblings and I spent our childhoods on that side of the pond. Our dad came of age at the beginning of the Great Depression, so he never had any formal or trade education beyond high school. But that didn’t stop him. If he had the vision for something, he found a way of making it happen, with a crew of African workers or without—whether it was build a large home from scratch (“scratch” meaning making the bricks from a termite anthill to cutting the logs from felled trees, to adding electricity and running water personally installed), or whether it was seeing that his wife got a piano in Central Africa, even if he had to rebuild the whole inside following its travel traumas.

Another thing Daddy did was to carry equipment to Africa to take movies, and that brings us back to the events of the past weekend. Those movies are old now, old 16mm stuff. Last fall the family pooled some resources to have them digitized. Since my sister and I are the only ones left who “were there” and could tell for sure what was being seen, we had to do something about that, so last Saturday, with the help of her son/my nephew, we recorded three hours of narration to the movies. Then we allowed him to “interview” us for another two hours about the lives of our parents and others who are already gone. Sunday we spent at least a couple more hours coming up with as many names as we could of people in the old family photo books from 1925-about 1934. (Pictures and all are on his computer now.)

Talk about journeys into the past! I suppose it is not surprising that such journeys spur mental forays into the future—however brief those have to be. What will they say about me when I am gone? When I was awake in the night again last night, I was reminded of the “Journey” piece that I wrote more than a decade ago, and I knew it was time to get it out again. It is long, so I’m going to present it in installments, with another one tomorrow and at least two days after that. I call it simply “Journey.”

My life is a journey through a window of time,
a window in eternity custom designed for me
by the Master of the Universe.

In omnipotence He directed the beginning.
His omniscience has seen the end.
With magnificent omnipresence
He is lovingly orchestrating every moment in between.

The strands of humanity that are me were woven together by Him—
uniquely, purposefully, to make me who He wanted me to be.

My vehicle for this journey is a body of flesh, an earthen vessel, a jar of clay.
Though mortal, it birthed my immortal soul.
Though earthbound, it gives me eyes to see heaven.
Though temporal, it is my bridge to eternity.

This physical vehicle of my journey is both …
tough and fragile, complex and simple, dependable and unpredictable.

Sometimes it soars like an eagle, sometimes plods like a tortoise.
Sometimes it is exhilarated with vision, sometimes weighed down with the struggle.
~~ ©Copyright 1996 Esther Moneysmith Gross

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