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Last year, my church introduced a new at-home study program called “Come, Follow Me.” It included weekly reading assignments for studying the New Testament, including suggestions for how to adapt those assignments for different family situations. Probably a lot of you have followed similar programs on your own or with your families.
When I started the program, I decided to do something a little different. I made a goal to write at least one poem inspired by the reading assignment each week. The goal wasn’t necessarily to try to interpret the scriptures, but to deepen the spiritual and emotional experience I had during my study.
That was 2019, and here I am in 2020 with enough poems to self-publish a small book. Planned publication date is October 2020, and the working title is Grace Like Water. My son Nathan agreed to produce 10-15 illustrations for the project by mid-June, which will be quite a feat since he has just started his first semester at the University of Utah with a double major in computer science and animation.
In talking with Nathan about the illustrations, I explained to him my general philosophy on composing poetry. Because big ideas and events are so complicated, I don’t try to capture their full scope in a poem. Instead, I focus on very small, personal things a reader can identify with. For instance, I wrote this poem inspired by Jesus’s healing of the paralytic man:
Instead of recounting the story, I tried to focus on how the man felt before and after his experience—especially how he depended on others for what he couldn’t do himself. Nathan did some rough concept sketches recently. I’m impressed by how he took my philosophy and focused on the personal. For instance, for the above poem he didn’t draw the paralytic man being healed—he showed two friends at church, one whose posture makes it seem like he may have been “hauled bodily” to the pew for a little spiritual healing. Nathan hates when I post his unfinished art, but I’m going to do this one anyway with the strong disclaimer that it’s a very rough sketch. I want to share with you his unique vision because I am very excited about how this book is going to turn out!