I started this blog three months ago in an attempt to hold myself accountable to writing consistently and to have a place to share poetry and short devotionals on faith and spirituality with friends interested. After sharing a few pieces, I was inspired by the encouragement of some friends to keep writing more poetry. I thought it would be easier to keep them all in one place.
I chose to invest in a hosting plan as an additional measure of accountability - after all, if I had paid for it, then I would feel more incentive to make good use of my money, right? So I gave myself an ambitious challenge: post something every day for the month of November. That’s right: 30 posts in 30 days. After a lot of (metaphorical) blood, sweat, and tears, I crossed the finish line. Encouraged by the victory, but knowing it wasn’t sustainable long-term, I committed to posting every three days as my next step. Here I am, approaching the end of January, and I haven’t missed a single post!
This post is to look back on what I’ve written the last three months and provide readers with a more accessible way to find stuff that interests them.
Articles (all poetry listed in the next section)
Faith and spirituality
“Presence, patience, and peace” has basically described my spiritual development plan over the past couple years. These three words have changed my life, and I have seen how closely interrelated they are. I posted a three-part series of three brief articles that unpack and give clear examples of what these three values look like.
I posted a number of articles that I might call “Christian devotions.” These explore themes of Christian faith.
On the renewal of all things - resurrection is the way God works - bringing order from chaos, light from darkness, and life from death, from the beginning to the end
On faith, hope, and love - this "holy trinity" of Christian values totally counteracts the trio of lies that cancerously destroy us: fear, guilt, and shame
On Humility - a word that we often trivialize and get totally wrong
On sacralizing the ordinary - everything is spiritual, and if we just learn to see it that way, we can do even small, ordinary things with great intentionality
Another theme for me has been commentary and critique on my faith as a Christian. These three articles aren’t directly related, but I think generally they fall under this idea of being more “church specific” than most of my other work.
Why I am (not) a "Christian" - maybe the most controversial thing I’ve posted, though it wasn’t meant to be that way
On Going the Extra Mile (and how it doesn't mean what you think it means) - on the non-violence that Jesus embodied and taught as the most powerful (but often misunderstood) force in the universe
I am passionate about whole, healthy, and vibrant singleness - a topic which I think our society, and especially church culture, doesn’t really understand. In these posts, I explore five of what I call “myths about singleness,” along with their corresponding truths that we need to embrace.
The word "identity" has been central for me in the past few years. This section draws on a number of writings I have done, both academic and popular level, to explore the fact that defining ourselves purely in terms of our role in life or our personality or our psychological makeup lead to identity crisis. Instead, I explain “narrative identity theory” in an easy to understand way to make an important point: my identity is based in my story, not what I do.
I also had a few miscellaneous posts that don’t quite fit into any other category.
What I learned from posting every day for a month - more than just my writing, a reflection on how we can set big goals and accomplish them well
When Dumbledore made me cry and Samwise made me sob - how the beauty and importance of sacrificial friendship seems to be built into the fabric of the universe
I had a lot of fun learning and experimenting with the poetic form of the “triolet.” The themes of these poems are totally different, but they all use the same repeating lines and unique rhyme scheme of the triolet.
I’m not sure quite what to call this category, so “social commentary” seems broad enough. Each of these points out some of the uglier side of human existence.
It takes a village - on the capacity of community for the greatest good as well as the greatest evil
isqaat an-nizaam (overthrow the regime) - a meditation from the first days of the Lebanese revolution (I live in Lebanon) against one of the world’s most corrupt governments
It's easy to live with an "other" - as mentioned above, this is all about how we all seem to need a scapegoat, or an “other,” to keep our communities together
We live in massive castles - on all of the “walls” we put up in an attempt to hide our true selves from a world that we feel we can never really trust
The I and the Thou - on the fact that we can really only find ourselves in relationship, not with other people as objects, but as other subjects to be encountered and loved
In you - I got the privilege of tutoring a very poor, uneducated Syrian boy at our school for refugees. This poem is about the profound impact he had on me, and how serving him gave me a better understanding of the heart of God
These also don’t really fit into any category specifically, and they don’t have a lot in common apart from the fact that they are inspired very specifically by Christian faith and Scripture.
the phoenix - allegories shouldn’t really be explained, but in this poem I talk about the “phoenix” (Christ) and the “dove” (the Holy Spirit) and the ways in which we have tamed and domesticated them, thereby surgically removing their capacity to truly transform us and the world
All Creation is groaning - a meditation on the brokenness of the world as it eagerly awaits renewal (for what it’s worth, I am incredibly proud of the way this poem uses imagery and symbolism and has an almost exactly parallel poetic rhythm and meter without feeling “forced” to fit a specific mold)
Cleopas - a poem and short article I wrote years ago on Cleopas, an often-ignored figure who I have called the “patron saint of depression”
I really enjoy writing spoken word, which for me is an opportunity to play with language focusing not on line rhyming, but on meter and turns of phrase and internal rhyme and alliteration. These poems are all very different, but they have one central quality: they really are meant to be heard and not just read (which makes them a bit difficult to share on a blog).
Seasonal Affects - using each of the four seasons as a metaphor for peace (affects here meaning “emotional quality of a thing,” but also a wordplay as I talk about the effects of the seasons on us)
Posts, Comments, and Things Worth Saying - a little bit about the tragic effects of social media on human communication
The beginning of what? - a piece on the creation of the universe that steps way outside the boundaries of the way Christians have traditionally “explained” creation, recognizing that truth is often communicated best through poetry rather than prose (after all, the “Creation” chapters of the Bible were poetry themselves)
Life is Full - on how we can get so overwhelmed by busyness that we fail to see the beauty of a life that is truly “full” of good things
All of these poems are different, but they have two things in common. First, they are all brief, freeform poetry without following a specific structure. Second, they are all meditations on the nature of life or spirituality. In these, I see how strong of an influence reading Christian mystics and non-dualistic thinkers (like Richard Rohr) have had on my spiritual development as a Jesus-follower. In their own way, each of these embrace the mystery of spirituality while acknowledging that truly everything is spiritual.
These poems might not be click-bait, but I think there is some real beauty in here.
Precious Cargo - about my move to the Middle East to work with refugees and orphans
29 - An Autobiography in Free Verse - looking back on my own personal “character development” in the drama of life
Confessions of an ENFP-8 - I’m an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs chart and an Enneagram 8. If you have either of those things in common, you’ll probably resonate with a lot of this.
Thanks to all of you for reading, and here's to many more months (and years!) of consistent posts!