Friday, August 14, 2009

Ode to my Silvertone

O guitar, I sold you,
first guitar I ever had.
I sold your string set too high,
higher than the valleys
in my left fingertips.
I sold the missing bridge knob,
and the broken strap peg.
I sold the mahogany.
I sold your faint sunburst.

You were the first guitar I ever had,
purchased by my dad
in the famous dreams of my youth
when my heart was an alternating bass
when I was an apostrophe
curled around your feminine curve.

I sold your f-holes and the bridge
warmed and patinaed by
my long slender fingers
and my young anxious hand.
I sold the dark blue felt gig bag
with "Harptone" scrolled in yellow
crackling at a 45° angle.

But o, guitar, I could not sell highschool nights
balancing you on my knee
with the song book spread on my bed.
I could not sell the hours practicing,
the songs played for friends,
the folk operas written,
the march of my right hand fingers
as I learned my first L Cohen song.

O, guitar, I could not sell
playing my first song for my father.
I could not sell
performing a talking blues
at senior year assembly.
I could not sell
your ancestors
and the poetry they sang.

O my well-mannered lover
o mistress of 3-fret by 6 string boxes
o mystery of F & B7 &
other wickedness
O mother of each guitar
yet to come.
I could not sell you,
I could only pass you on
to minister to a new troubadour.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Your Law Is My Delight

Psalm 119:77
I am very willful. I expect things to go my way, and pout when they don't. I suppose myself to be "smarter than the average bear", and expect to learn new things easily. If I don't pick it up in one sitting, I'm likely to drop it rather than persevere.

For example, I play the guitar, and would like to expand the picking patterns I use. Problem is, learning new patterns requires practice and patience.

I am more likely to question a rule than not. "Because" is not a sufficient reason. If it seems that I am surprisingly law-abiding, it's only because I dislike confrontation more than I dislike unreasonable rules. I obey, resentfully.

It's hard for me to imagine delighting in any law. So many people today strive so much for "self fulfillment", I don't suppose that I'm alone. Don't most people obey the law out of fear of punishment?

This verse comes from the longest poem in the Book of Psalms. It is a veritable love song to Torah Law. Not only the Big Ten, but over 600 more (collected in Leviticus and Deuteronomy). Another line in the same psalm exclaims, "Oh, how I love your law."

Jesus said, "I have come to fulfill the Law." When asked to summarize the Law, Jesus quoted two passages from Deuteronomy - to love God with your full being, and to love your neighbor as yourself. When you think about it, this can be more challenging than obeying hundreds of written laws.

After all, if you have a written law, you know exactly what's expected of you. But how, exactly do you love your neighbor as yourself? What does loving God with your full being look like?

However, in addition to this challenge, Jesus led by example. When it came time be obedient unto death, we can hardly say that Jesus' obedience was motivated by fear. What punishment could be worse than suffocating on a cross under the mideastern sun?

Jesus' obedience was motivated by love - love of God and love of humanity.

What would it look like if we were obedient as a loving response rather than from fear of punishment?

Can the love of the Law become the Law of Love?