Yesterday I got an unexpected message from a friend. Years ago I’d written a poem and posted it on a college forum for feedback. I hadn’t thought of the poem in a long, long time, but apparently it had resonated with my friend, and he’d saved the words and set them to music. His message yesterday was to ask if I would be all right with him using the lyrics in a demo EP he is putting together, and included a clip of what he was working on. He’s a talented musician and the demo track sounded great. . . we said yes, of course he could use the words. 

It is a strange thing to read your own work years later, after having been distanced from it for a long time. . .stranger still to hear it sung in a voice you don’t recognize. I found the words resonating with me and I rolled them around in my head, trying to understand the metaphor, before I realized with a start that I had authored the metaphor.

Perhaps it’s a little like seeing your grown and married and bearded son kissing his wife. A new person, a stranger, in a way, but at the same time still the son whom you carried and bore and fed and taught and loved for years. That is the way I imagine it might be, of course; but I suppose I will have to wait until I have a son who is married to see if the comparison is at all accurate. 

It is strange, though, to have written something so long ago, when I knew less of the world than I do now, and to find that I understand my own words more deeply now than I did when they were written. Elizabeth Goudge writes, in the voice of an artist character:

‘I’ve got too far ahead in time. That happens sometimes even in photography, you know. At the time it is taken a photo is not a good likeness, yet, two years later, it is. It’s odd that it should happen in such a mechanized art as photography. In a portrait it is understandable. . .There’s a patient angel in us all, the spirit in the making. And he has two faces. He is the two things that you may be if you do this, or that. Sometimes you see the one looking out of the window, sometimes the other.’ (Elizabeth Goudge, ‘Pilgrim’s Inn’)

I wonder if the portraits, the metaphors that I write, will be accurate in twenty years, in fifty. I know already that in all of the welling years to come, I will find out how little I know now of the depths of darkness and the greatness of our God. But I wonder if seventy years from now, frail and old and child-like once more, I will discover that the child-Carreen knew things she didn’t know she knew. I wonder what will happen after all. . .

In the meantime, a childish poem resurrected and matured by a friend’s persistence:

After All 

so pain stains the windows and tears smear the pane
and we sit here and wonder if weather will ever
blow this old house down again

and you tip back your chair and you say to the wind
a pot of gold is the end of the rainbow
so what is at the beginning?

is there beginning? i thought this was the end
you’ve said it before and i’ll say it again
but this house is not gold
after all
i don’t know
if the nails will hold
after all
after All.

so pain stains the windows and tears smear the pane
and we sit here and wonder if weather will ever
blow this old house down again

and you take my hand and we follow the rainbow
from end to beginning to see
the beauty began before i ran yet after He came for me

before the tears and after the love
after nails of iron dripped with blood
and Promise bowed down from the heavens to cry:

there is beginning, this isn’t the end
it’s stormed before, it will storm again
because that house is not gold
after all
but I Know
these Nails will hold
for Eternity
after All.

Posted in Good words, Insert | 1 Note