Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


Isaiah Spring: A Poem (by me)


Years ago I spent a stormy, gorgeous spring in close study of Isaiah. My family was living near Nashville and I was in my late teens, wrestling hard with God and his mercy, with my doubt of his presence, my struggle with his justice and judgement. One of my great gifts and graces in that season, however, was the chance to drive up once a week or so to the home of a beloved mentor in a little Kentucky town where I stayed the night in her lovely home and attended this intensive Bible study the next day.

The drive to and from my friend’s home was a couple of hours and I spent it often mulling what I had just studied, the car filled with some sort of dramatic or classical music as I worked to untangle my idea of God’s love with his desire for holiness in his people and what that mean for modern me in all my teenage hunger for identity and meaning. The landscape out my window, the rolling hills and tangled forest of bare-branched trees made a fit setting to my tumultuous thoughts, as did the spring storms that often lumbered through the sky.

One week, I drove up for a longer stay as my friend and I had decided to have the leader of the Bible study over for an afternoon where we could ask all the hard questions we’d gathered after our weeks of reading, trace all the tiny roads of God’s love through the dark and bright beauty of wild Isaiah. I will never forget that afternoon as we three sat with cups of coffee set midst piled papers. open Bibles, notes jotted. I asked hard questions. I dared to speak my struggle. And we wrestled with the passages, with the tale of God’s goodness as it encountered human sin. And at the end of that afternoon, it wasn’t that I had no fear or questions left in me, but I had a surety of God’s love, of his dogged, suffering, ferocious love that shapes me to this day.

I took a long, long walk in the Kentucky countryside soon after and the words of the seraphim in Isaiah 6 were richly in my mind. Holy, holy, holy. Love and justice, judgement and pervasive mercy, what else can you sputter but glory? This poem grew from my wonder and worship, my thanks for the untameable, irrepressible lover of a Creator. It’s imperfect, but it was written in the gleam of newfound surety of God’s mercy invading the whole of my finite experience, and in this season of soul-wrestling, I wanted to share it with you (along with a few pictures from my recent sojourn in the Yorkshire Dales!).

Isaiah Spring

Branch etched air,
Bears blue,
Like smoke before an altar,
And the birds,
Awhir with laughter cry out,
Holy, holy, holy.


Snow carved boughs
Grow gold,
Like coins of countless treasure,
And the fields
New-filled with lilies claim as,
Lord, the God of Hosts.


Wind hewn hills,
Spill green,
In torrents through the valley,
And the woods,
Aflood in leaf buds say,
The earth is full, full, full.


First spring dawn,
Runs red,
Like blood through brightened faces

Sears the sky,
With crimson traces
Of His glory, glory, glory.