Thursday, August 25, 2016

Go West

"He stood at the edge of the river, gaze slowly shifting between the mountain valley of the Lord’s Bounty and his friend’s unrelenting quest for gold.  'We’re free,' he insisted.  'The two freest men in all the world…isn’t it enough?'  
The Frenchman’s sharp eyes met the Scotsman’s disbelief. 'Is it for you, mon ami?'
'Aye,' Mckeag said softly.  'And always will be.'  
                           -“The Yellow Apron.”  Centennial, 1978  

The call slips cool through morning light,
Hides quiet in the gold that admits the day.
Go west, young man,
Come up, brave heart,
It’s long since you were away.
Escape the concrete, weary bones,
Unburden your soul of highway dust,
Run barefoot in beauty,
Find peace, for a time, in holy wanderlust.

Where shekinah rests on the mountains,
Draw near and find your rest.
Tabernacles of stone,
Restore faith once more,
To the limping spirit still blessed.
When shalom wraps ‘round in a flannel,
Steel string psalms float raw and bare,
Toward hope again,
Not to last, but to live,
And eternity echoes through star-pricked air.

Where enamelware pours the coffee hot,
And its warmth unburdens clouded eyes,
The limbs bow low,
In bodily prayer,
To salute the Son, to stretch and rise.
The altitude reveals the truth,
High Country calls me to learn and grow,
The journey ahead,
Down to low places led,
Cannot stifle the promise that leads us on.

In those sacred days of westering,
The Shabbat that heals the faith once more,
Compels obedience,
Renews the spirit,
To fulfill what the Lord has made him for.
And though hell and suffering bar the way,
Calvary has crushed a victory through,
Over shadow grace sings,
To our hearts bestows things,
That the angels of heaven only wish they knew.    

“When you meet me here again, you will have come to stay. But not now. You must 
go back to your own world for a while.”  
-Aslan, The Silver Chair

All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  Neal.  2016.  
Images via:  Eru Illuvatar,, and Josh Abe.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016


“Come, let me breathe on you.  Now are you brave again?” (Aslan, Prince Caspian).

Dipping a toe in and feeling the liquid-cool creep up my skin.  
Jumping in is always the hardest part.  
Creation of the dust, my humanity thirsts for that which gives life.  
From craving tongue to the searching heart, only a true reflection pours peace.  
Satisfaction for the parched soul staring back up at me, 
Imago Dei.  

Sometimes I strip the shoes and curl toes in the dirt of my making,
Feeling the firm grounding of a foundation that anchors the soul.  
But today the terrestrial weighs heavy,
The curse of this fallen soil.
A cracked and thirsty pavement dragging me earthward,  
Antithesis of the eternal,  
Deserts waging war against my soul.  
But the music draws me in, slips my skin under the surface of liquid song, 
Of gravity suspended.  

Clear and sharp, now muted soft,
Rolling in waves that echo endlessly on the shore. 
Truth resounds in my soul,
Smooths across pebbles shaped by a permanent dwelling in the deep.  
I need to stay here for awhile,
Rippling with the same breath of the Genesis creation. 
Hovering over the water, it surrounds me.  
Hello, Holy Spirit.  
How often do I forget that living water is alive?  
I am a mariner with a mountain soul,  
A mermaid seeking streams and lakes in the high places above all that is below. 
I want to see the sunlight diving into patterns of gold-rimmed aqua,
Ever dancing, never ceasing.  
Borealis of the blue world.  

With waves encamped around me, I am held. 
Cradled by the might of raw strength that soothes with gentle beauty,
Crushes the enemy and cleanses what is unclean.  
Here, tears may mingle free with Calvary’s water,
Blood of a pierced Messiah that covers me still.  
Take me where my feet can no longer touch the depth, beyond where human breath can carry the lungs.  
A longing to be forever caught up in the holy flood.  

Soon, all ransomed hearts will come home here to stay,
Forever a part of the restoration that welcomes into the deep, 
Flowing with a healing that raises the dead.   
But for now I swim the tide, 
Surrendering anew to the only water that quenches the thirsty soul and stills all earthly clamor.  
In the water I listen to remember the truth,
Have you heard it too?
How the tide of victory has swallowed up suffering.  
Every brook murmurs peace
And each wave whispers,