Archive for the ‘Monthly Celebration’ Category

Further reflections on my legacy and more

August 11, 2022

August is a special month, and I recently posted a blog entry celebrating the eighth month as “What will be Your Legacy Month.” August 11 is especially significant since it relates to another milestone in my life. An event of supreme significance occurred 48 years ago when I was first ordained to the Christian ministry. I am revising and reposting a reflective entry celebrating that occasion.

Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. The recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable time prior to the actual ordination ceremony. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and developed a closer connection to the Bible, I remember reading the passage from Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers by saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I publicly acknowledged that I had heard and accepted the call in 1974 at age 32.

Such an entry point for service can begin with “the new birth” experience when one accepts Jesus Christ as savior and endeavors to follow in his steps. A child, however, who gratefully and joyfully accepts the blessings of the Father, eventually matures to the point of being about the “Father’s business.” Some consider ordination a kind of “rite of passage” which commences with a higher level of service in ministering to the Body of Christ, expressed in Ephesians 4:11-13:

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony, I also recall a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years. I wrote an original psalm inspired by that experience, and I later dedicated it to other fellow servants who continue to respond to God, those who heard His voice and answered

The Call of God

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,
beseech you to walk worthy of the calling
with which you were called,
Ephesians 4:1

The call of God resounds like a repeated name
From the lips of a beloved friend who knows us.
We wait and clearly hear our name and see the flame
Lighting the path to fulfill God’s divine purpose
As we choose to embrace a higher destiny.
This holy calling only God can verify.
We know our ears cannot hear; our eyes cannot see;
Yet from the depths of our hearts, we cannot deny
That we have truly heard and seen what few will know.
We must, therefore, arise and strive to reach the place
Where the mighty rivers of understanding flow,
And we must never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.
In the unbroken line of all those ordained of God,
We stand. Having heard, we rise to heed the call of God.

August 11 is a “double lovely” day since it is also the birthday of my 6-year-old grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, who answers, in part, the question raised in the monthlong celebration of What will be Your Legacy Month.”

Kingston and Grandpapa love to read together

Kingston Edward Simkins is part of my legacy that I believe will extend for generations to come. The lyrics to “The Blessing,” a powerful benediction by Elevation Worship featuring Kari Jobe and Mark Carney, express my innermost desire:

Legacies lead…Legacies light the way. What will be your legacy?

August 7, 2022

Although August has no Federal holidays to celebrate, the eighth month offers this provocative designation:  August is “What will be your legacy?” month. Gone-ta-pott.com, the holiday website, offers this definition and elaborates upon the month-long celebration with this comment:

“A legacy is what someone or something is remembered for or what they have left behind that is remembered, revered or has influenced current events and the present day. . . What Will Your Legacy Be Month is a month for people to reflect on their past and present actions and vow to make positive changes that will affect generations. We have to remember the seeds, whether positive or negative, that we plant in our children’s lives. This observance is about making the right choices so our children and their children will make the right choices. Everything we do will grow and reflect our teachings. So teach your children well.”

This inspirational video by FellowshipStories.com also reminds us that “Legacies lead… Legacies light the way. What will be your legacy?”

In thinking about the legacy that I desire to leave, I recall the words of the late Rev. Billy Graham:

“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”

Eleven years ago, I also composed a personal psalm after reflecting on what I would like for others to remember about me:

When All Is Said and Done

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;

you were faithful over a few things,

I will make you ruler over many things.

Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Matthew 25:21

When all things of this life on earth are said and done

And all accounts settled, may this be said of me:

He was a good husband, father, and faithful son,

Who sought to serve the Master with integrity.

May God find a branded bondslave who came to learn

Firsthand that to run to serve is life’s highest goal,

Beyond fame, acclaim, wealth, or status one can earn.

That I loved God with all my heart and mind and soul:

A son who practiced obedience as a lifestyle,

Seeking to please the Lord and follow each command,

With an attitude of gratitude all the while,

Giving praise to Christ before whom we all shall stand.

For all those who follow, I leave this legacy,

As the mighty man of faith God called me to be.

Don Moen offers this musical reminder: “When All is Said and Done,”  a capstone to my reflection on the legacy I hope to leave, not only in August but every day I draw breath.

April: National Poetry Month and Jazz Appreciation Month

April 13, 2018

National poetry month

The April is a month of special celebrations. In addition to being National Poetry Month, April has been set aside as Jazz Appreciation Month, and so these celebrations come together in a personal way, as poet who is strongly influenced by all manner of music, but especially jazz.

As a distinctively American musical form, jazz expresses a wide range of emotions, from sheer joy and ecstasy to deepest sorrow and pain. Central to this musical expression is improvisation, a spontaneous interchange between soloists and ensemble, often with “call and response” and other characteristics that give jazz a uniquely American flavor.

With its origins in the South in the early part of the 20th Century, jazz developed most notably in New Orleans, which brought together a delectable medley of sounds, a kind of “Cajun, creole, gumbo”, a sumptuous blending of music from diverse cultural populations: Caribbean, Mexican, German, Italian, French, Native American, African and others. The music blended ragtime, marches, with a heavy dose of the blues, along with European light classical music and other musical forms.
Jazz Appreciation Month

I first began writing poetry in the late 1960s when I was drafted into the US Army, as a pharmacy instructor stationed at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. As I reflect upon the beginnings of my writing poetry, I recognize that some of the initial inspiration to write came from music. While I was in the Army, I attended a concert, featuring Ravi Shankar, the renowned sitarist from India. This was my first exposure to sitar music, and I sat enraptured as Mr. Shankar explained the structure of musical compositions called ragas, which involve a good amount of improvisation.

As I listened to the performance, I thought of the similarities between this variety of Indian music and jazz, and I thought, “This ain’t nothin’ but jazz. This is a show nuff jam session.” After the concert which proved to be a profoundly moving worship experience, I consciously determined to express the essence of my experience in a poem which I entitled “Sacred Jazz” which later became the title poem of the collection Sacred Jazz: Music, Mood and Mind.

Sacred Jazz: Ravi Shankar in Concert

come
remove your shoes
come
sit with me under the canopy

unwind
your mind
ascend
with incense
and with me
absorb the sounds
of sacred jazz

dig this Indic jam session
set of rare rapport
improvisation

evening raga

rag raga rag a song of India

Indo-oriole
Skitting skatting

riffing
taking off

Alap blues ala Shankar

Alap all blues

serene somber soul-subduing

Alap Jor Jala

sitar and tabla
constant encyclic tamboura

all dialogue transcending speech
in effort
to reach
the Divine

come
remove your shoes
come
sit with me under the canopy

As the month of April continues to unfold, we continue to celebrate poetry and appreciate jazz all year long. We conclude with a medley of Christian jazz instrumental music: I Love You Lord Today/There Is None Like You (Instrumental)

National Poetry Month: Let’s celebrate

April 21, 2017

National poetry month

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country come together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

As a practicing poet who writes from a decidedly Christian perspective, I recognize a spiritual connection with poetry and would like to share comments from a radio broadcast “Poetry and Praise” which I hosted more than a dozen years ago:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the famous English Romantic poet, defined this literary art form as the “best words in their best order.” Poetry is an expression of the heart.  As Longfellow said, “Look into thine heart and write.”  Another poet said, “When you have something special you want to say, poetry helps you say it in a special way.” Certain qualities make this literary expression called poetry “special.” Poetry generally has rhythm or meter, sometimes in a specific recurring metrical pattern but not always, as with free verse.  Poetry can also have rhyme but then again, not always.  As the late Roger Miller once stated:

Roses are red, Violets are blue.

Some poems rhyme and some poems don’t.

Finally poetry has meaning or significance and a remarkable ability to evoke a mood or attitude, using figurative language to paint unforgettable mind pictures. The Roman poet Horace stated that “The purpose of literature is to instruct the mind and delight the spirit.” Robert Frost said, “Poetry begins in delight and ends with wisdom.”  Poetry causes you to think and to remember what you didn’t know you knew.

Most poetry is relatively short: a compact unit of lines that reach deep into the heart. Whether the words of the Psalmist who speaks, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. . .”  or the line from the classic love sonnet from Shakespeare, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” or the powerful imagery of James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation” or Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” or the closing lines of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost or lines from your favorite poem, poetry has remarkable power to touch the heart and soul in an unforgettable way, which we celebrate, especially during the month of April.

I encourage each of our readers to join me in the celebration of poetry throughout this month: write a poem, learn a new poem by heart—recite a poem and share it with a friend. Why not check out a book of poetry; make a new friend with a poet whose work you enjoy or someone whom you’ve heard about. Do something poetic that you’ve never done and celebrate God’s goodness in some way involving poetry.

As born-again believers, Christians are also said to be new creations in Christ, and we praise God for having given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, Ephesians 2:10 declares that “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece. Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into the English word poem, which in the minds of many people is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God.  Accordingly, we should not just wait until April to extol the beauty of poetry, but recognize and celebrate this cherished literary form every day. Make every day a

Good News Day

 This is the day the LORD has made;

we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

 

It’s a good news day

no blues day

new shoes

no way to lose

What a good news day

 

It’s a great day

I can’t wait day

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Good God, a good news day

 

It’s a payday

goin my way day

no nay–all yea

what you say

Such a good news day

 

It’s a live it up day

overflowin cup day

It’s a bright and bubbly

doubly lovely

Show-nuff good news day

Take a look at and listen to this video promotion of National Poetry Month from Museum of the Bible, showing the use of Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament:

National Aviation Month: A Local Color Story

November 19, 2009

Another first for the city of Columbus: Lonnie Corman takes flight in plane that he built.

Photo is personal property of Yvette Corman Davis.

November is National Aviation Month, and as Christian Spirituality Examiner for Columbus, Ohio, I was preparing an article in celebration of the occasion but with an African American focus. I have a friend whose father was among the noted Tuskegee Airmen, and the thought occurred that I could pay tribute to those distinguished pioneers in aviation. I also thought of Bessie Coleman and her role as one of the pioneers in terms of women in flight. As I was going to continue working on the article, my wife mentioned that I should talk with a friend of hers, an attorney whose grandfather not only built an airplane but he flew it himself back in the 1920s. Upon talking with her, she shared with me more information regarding her grandfather, Lonnie Carmon, who was recognized as the first Black aviator in Columbus, Ohio. She later sent me the text from a tribute she had completed on her website along with photos that she had also incorporated. Quite providentially I extracted from the information and compiled a slide show as well from the photos and completed an article which may be of interest as we celebrate National Aviation Month. Here is the web address:

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20264-Columbus-Christian-Spirituality-Examiner~y2009m11d18-Lonnie-Carmon-Columbus-Ohios-first-black-aviator

Lonnell Johnson/Dr. J