Monday, December 8, 2014

POEMS BETWEEN DARKNESS AND LIGHT - Introduction

Signed copy may be purchased through Tictail
(Before becoming a preacher, a nurse, an amateur artist, or a massage therapist, I was a poet. I still am. Getting my poetry published in more than homemade binders had been a dream for years. Health challenges and the rise of modern book-publishing technology merged to motivate me to make the effort. Now all five of my poem books are published in paperback and Kindle editions.

I wanted to put the introductory essays for each collection on my blog. If you want to know what makes me tick, my poetry tells it better than a biography.

This "Introduction" and the concluding poem are from my second book of poems. To read the posts from my others, click on these links:
Poems Between Heaven and Hell;
Poems Between Death and Life;
Poems Between Birth and Resurrection;
Poems Between Here and Beyond.)

“Introduction” to
Poems Between Darkness and Light

Everyone appreciates sleep, and along with it, the darkness of night. For those like myself, who work at night and sleep in the day, closing the eyelids is not sufficient for escaping light. Most of us also darken the room for sleeping. Yet upon waking, if we found neither sunlight nor lamplight to dispel the darkness, we would panic. Darkness is fine for the inactivity of sleep, but for the business of living, we need light. All people, even the blind who have learned to see with their ears and hands, want to know what is going on around them, who is present nearby, which direction is clear to walk in. Whatever lies in the darkness or in the unknown becomes apparent with light or with enlightenment.

Many people have poisoned themselves by taking medications in the dark. False assumptions can be dangerous. I remember one of my nursing instructors insisting on our doing “under-cover rounds” for all our patient assessments. It meant to pull back the covers, lift up the gowns and examine bare bodies. Merely presuming that all was well could result in negligent care. At first, I felt uncomfortable crossing a stranger’s normal boundaries of privacy to gather the physical facts. But as a seasoned nurse, I would now feel uncomfortable and even delinquent in not doing so.

Sufficient light banishes both doubt and inaccurate conjecture. It endows us with the priceless knowledge of reality. After all, we want the truth, don’t we? Without the light of truth, the world of humanity is dysfunctional and abusive. Purposeful lies, sly half-truths, ignorant falsehoods, or whatever else wields the power to mislead thought and action: these are the central agents of disintegration in a friendship, a home, a nation, a world. Although the gift of imagination is magnificent, we fail at life if we live in a world of dreams which are never brought into reality by our planning, prayer, and personal sweat.

In keeping with the thematic title of my first book, Poems Between Heaven and Hell, I have entitled this one Poems Between Darkness and Light. On earth we are in the midst of a tension between the forces of good and evil, between the holy influence of Heaven and the damning incitements of Hell. There is such complexity in life’s mixtures of good and evil, so many shades of darkness, so much filtering of light’s intensity, that ultimate choices become confusing. Humanity’s common plight in this world of thick mist and shadow is a lost sense of direction and destiny. At the core of our muddled thinking is a divided heart. We were created for and crave unity with our Maker, yet, at the same time, try to avoid Him. Perhaps our sleep has become too precious. We fear a God whose light obliterates the comfort of dreamy pillows and the secrecy of thick blankets. But our only legitimate fear is that of not fearing, not heeding, not obeying such a loving God whose commitment to truth causes Him to call us to, and insist upon, the same commitment.

The God who is love is also light. Light is not subtle or complex, but simply pure and revealing. If the God of light hides Himself at all, it is for our own preservation. In our inner selves, we often house such a turbulent amalgamation of good and evil, truth and error, light and darkness, that His fully directed focus, like the blast of a high-powered laser beam, would blow us away in an instant. In His love and kindness, God bestows little glimpses of truth here and there during the course of our lives in order to turn us away from the darkness of selfishness toward the light of holiness and love. But often this slow process is only to prepare us for an essential “crisis” experience where a sudden pouring in of His light catches us off guard, exposing our true situation and our danger. At such moments, the choice is clear. We either turn back willfully toward the deceptive comfort of our darkness or enter a new, bright journey on the highway of God’s will. At such a crossroad, choosing not to choose is by default to sink back into the darkness, which may not only be costly, but even damning.

This book has been compiled without categorical or chronological arrangement. As in my first book, I have included some older poems, along with others which do not necessarily follow this introductory theme. Some of them are merely poetic experimentation. But for the most part, the poetry in this volume captures my insights on the human condition, in which light and darkness are so intertwined. I have tried to embody in poetry a message that exposes the blind spots that prevent our world from recognizing the truth. In these areas especially, I pray that my poems succeed in pointing readers away from darkness and toward the light. Where I have included poems of a personal nature, whether humorous, sentimental, or descriptive of life experience and observation, I hope they do not detract from the central theme of this introduction.

As a Christian, I am not ashamed to state my absolute confidence in God’s Word, the Bible, as His guiding light for our lives in this world of shadows. Many of these poems express my longing for closer union with God, and I hope they engender that same desire in all who read them. Above all, I want my readers to know that God’s invitation is open to everyone for a new life in His Son, Jesus Christ. This God of love and light waits for all of us to come to Him, and the nearer, the better—the closer, the brighter.

— David L. Hatton

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

THE PERFECT POEM

When a poet is a prophet,
When the singing strikes and stings
At the shifting social conscience
Modern foolish thinking brings,
We’re reminded of the Poem
From God’s lips of love sublime:
Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate,
Perfect rhythm, perfect rhyme.

God spoke nature into being:
Beasts and rivers, rocks and hills,
Trees and sunsets, stars and seasons,
Human passions, human wills . . .
Then, because we failed to listen,
God in perfect harmony,
With Himself the Song and Music,
Sang to us His Melody.

Passions twisted and perverted
By our wills that went astray
Wander blindly through a wasteland
That we know so well today.
But God’s law still speaks within us
By true guilt when we are wrong,
And true grace will only greet us
At the singing of His Song.

There is hope for our confusion—
Dissonance from sins we sung.
Hear the rhapsody of passion
On the cross where Jesus hung:
Perfect words for perfect healing,
Peace throughout eternity
In the chorus choir of Heaven,
If we choose God’s Poetry.

— David L. Hatton, 5/19/92
(Poems Between Darkness and Light,  © 1994, 2014)

For more single poems from this volume, visit my website's “Poetry Page.”

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