Art and LiteraturePoetry

Charred Pillars

Have  not the poets said
“The woods are God’s temple”?
But throughout time man hath said,
“The waters and woods are gods!”

So they whisper in the wilderness,
they shout from the mountain’s brow,
raise arms in homage to the forest crown,
and kneel to honour the ‘sacred’ ground

Yet their precious Nature holds a scourge
whipping fire-cords upon the earth;
pillars of pine blaze a burnished bronze,
the wood-god’s spirit spirals away in smoke

Men’s lodge-pole idols, majestic towers,
have been blackened, bowed low—
they are gods-become-incense-of-ashes,
might and beauty all burnt away

Men are all wrong—Beauty and Nature
are not gods; rather, they are God’s,
signposts leading men to their Maker
and to their place within His creation

The poets are only half right to say
that the woods are worship spaces—
For God Himself says that men
are His temples, His dwelling places

Though they begin charred and dark,
from ashes spring shoots of green,
life revived; renewed like a forest
after a consuming, cleansing fire

Spirit inhaled into ash-laced lungs,
inspired sanctuaries made holy by
the breath whispered into them from
mouth that fashioned woods from words

It is the theologians who know the truth,
that men are God’s home, holding within them
His life-breath—the rubble-scarred redeemed,
reclaimed to life, growing into palace-pillars.


Photo credit: By Daniels, Gene, photographer, Photographer (NARA record: 8463941) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Johanna Byrkett

Johanna Byrkett

Johanna (Jody) Byrkett enjoys hiking various types of terrain, foggy mornings and steaming mugs of tea, reading classic literature and theological essays, studying words and their origins, and practising the art of hospitality. (She also has the singularly annoying habit of spelling things 'Britishly'.)

Previous post

Dressing the Dead

Next post

Genesis 1 as a Model for Cultural Engagement