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A poem that made me think about things besides politics and money

July 19, 2011

The quiet of Aspen allows me a lot of think time. I am indebted to Luci Shaw, the poetry editor of Radix Magazine, where I have been writing lately, for pointing me to the work of Donald Hall, whose provocative poem is followed by my own response: Here is the Hall poem:


The Hole

He could remember that in the past, seven

months ago,

and much of the time for fifty years before


his body walked without pain. He breathed

in and out

without knowing that he was breathing, and

he woke up

each day to the day’s process

as if it were nothing to wake and dress in

the morning.

When the doctor confided that his body would

flake away

like a statue of rust, he looked into the long


at his own strong shoulders with the skin

smooth over them

and at his leg muscles which continued to be


He announced to his body,

“We have resolved, and we will hold to our


Then eyes faded, limbs dwindled, skin puckered,

lungs filled.

He dug himself into the private hole of his dying

and when he talked to his wife his voice came

from a distance

as if he had married his pain, and lived alone

with her.

He kept himself col

and lay and twisted and slept, until nobody

called him.

Donald Hall’s poem made me think so I wrote my own poem:

An empty shell of a body. 

Without transcendent purpose. 

A busy person seeking stimulus from a host of sources –

empty stimulus – little, if any residue. 

A tragic life – like Solomon of Ecclesiastes – “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” 

Taking life, health, and prosperity for granted. 

Self-absorbed. “He dug himself into a private hole.” 

Clinging to those things that money can buy and intelligence can know. 

 A life unspent. … A life of despiritualized humanism with no hope of a life beyond this life in eternity. 

But I do know God. … And that makes all the difference. 

       — Bob in Aspen


The poem, “The Hole,” is drawn from White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006, by Donald Hall. All the poems are challenging.  Radix Magazine — “Where Christian Faith Meets Contemporary Culture

Radix Magazine, P.O. Box 4307, Berkeley, CA 94704   (510) 548-5329

So What About You? 

  1. Do you know God?
  2. If you do know God, write a list (or a poem) describing the sort of person you would be if God were not in your life.


Words of Wisdom

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,

I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. …

Love never fails. … For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three;

but the greatest of these is love.

— St Paul in I Corinthians 13 NKJV

“As long as death persists, the optimistic concept of life, the belief that eternity can be reached through time, and that the individual can fulfill himself in society can therefore have only one outcome: despair. There must come a point in the life of every man when he suddenly finds himself facing death. At this point, he is all alone; he is all individual. If he is lost, his existence becomes meaningless.”

— Peter Drucker in 1943

Drawn from a lecture in tribute to Soren Kierkegaard. The lecture is the first one in a new book titled, The Drucker Lectures: Essential Lessons on Management, Society and Economy

One Comment leave one →
  1. Maurie Daigneau permalink
    August 17, 2011 12:44 PM

    “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judement” Hebrews 9:27

    “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” Romans 14:12

    “For the Son of Man is going to come…and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS” Matthew 16:27


    “The case for biblical consistency or authenticity or ‘inspiration’ has been in tatters for some time, and the rents and tears only become more obvious with better research, and thus no ‘revelation’ can be derived from that quarter.” Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great (New York:Twelve, 2007), 122.

    “God has been at war with the culture and the culture has won!” Alan Wolfe, The Transformation of Religion in America (University of Chicago Press, 2005)

    “There is an amazing ignorance of scripture among many and the consequent want of established solid religion. In no other way can I account for the ease with which people are like children, ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine.'” J.C. Ryle, Holiness (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, repr., 1883)

    I think Ryle nailed it: “An amazing ignorance of scripture.” Fast forward to today. From a Barna Group 2009 study: “There is shockingly little growth evident in the people’s understanding of the fundamental themes of the scriptures and amazingly little interest in deepening their knowledge and application of biblical principles.” It doesn’t appear that much has changed in 134 years.

    As long as men look to men for the discernment of truth, they will continue to walk in an unpercieved darkness until the day they will regretably hear “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” Matthew 7:23 And at that point, it will be too late.

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