I am currently involved in the Institute of Preaching, which is given through Duke Divinity School. If you are in the Western North Carolina or Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, I highly recommend this program. It is eye-opening and has raised my quality of preaching.
During our last session, we were asked to think about where we have come from. We looked at a poem, “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon. We took almost an hour to look deeply at our past and contemplate where we have come from. We were then asked to write our own, “Where I’m From” poems. Our pasts construct our current selves and I find great power, confidence, and the fingerprints of God’s grace when I look back at how far I have come.
I am the sweat-soaked middle-schooler
the garbler of Shakespeare
creator of giggles with my stumbles
I am fear, deep fear
a concrete tongue weighing heavy
in a shriveled mouthpiece
I am the shouter, “Bad spellers untie!”
my hand is stacked heavy and high
the call is buried, in the darkness, deep
but the coals are still red.
I am the product of Paul
Peter formed and Bruce forged
a story penned in pulpits
handprints left in Glencoe, Laboratory, and the Rougemont Charge
I am prayed over in the crypt
thriver of musty sanctuaries and dam exercises
the receiver of gracious, wrinkled smiles
I am a child, bowing before the Father
giving in, succumbing, tired of the fight
willing, finally, to go because of the one who sends.
I am a sweat-soaked preacher
bestower of laser beams of grace at the perfect 45 degrees
striving, always striving, towards transparency
I am a preacher
I am a preacher
an alien phrase to a 9th-grade mind
I am here, behind the pulpit
not for me but because I am called.
The Rev. Jim Parsons serves as pastor of Indian Trail United Methodist Church in Indian Trail, N.C. He blogs at Adventures in Revland, from which this post is republished with the author's permission.