Before I could write, I was introduced to poetry by my mother who read the Bible, quoted rhymes and sang poignant, old-fashioned ballads to stir rapt wonder in my mind. Morally-messaged ballads like "Put My Little Shoes Away", "Two Little Orphans" and "The Baggage Coach Ahead" were filled with Victorian pathos, but they made me wonder about Heaven and my soul.
"Jesus Loves Me" was the first song lisped by my tiny heart. God seemed to draw near when I heard, sang or read poetry. This led to my love of the Psalms, Biblical poetry, and hymnology.
In first grade (at age six), during recitations for Christmas, I argued with my music teacher over "Away In A Manger." I was convinced the words were: "The stars in the skies, look down where He lies." No matter that the words "lay" and "hay" rhymed—I was creating my own metered idea of how the poem went! The original was, of course, far better—as Mother explained—and is still my favorite carol!
In eleventh grade my English-literature teacher sent my poetry to a national High School Poetry Anthology contest—unknown to me—and it was published! I became known as "Wanda Longfellow" after the announcement of my literary success was announced in class! (I forgave the roguish rubes.)
Poetic expressions carried me into splendid worlds of imagination and rapture. I even prayed in rhyme! It seemed as if God opened a vast void in my lonely, seeking heart and flooded it with mysterious utterances. Today, events still extend themselves into rhymes or prose; some silly, some sad . . . but it feels so natural. Since Christ came into my heart at the age of nine, I realize whatever gift or talent I've been given is to be returned to Him for His glory and not mine.
Poetic-artistry has become an expression of my ministry. I am now a Chaplain using hymns and poems to encourage others. I author yearbook and funeral memorials, entertain family and friends, and have a zillion poems stuffed in notebooks no one will probably ever read. But God knows my every line, and whose life writes what . . . so I am blessed, and I give praise to my loving Savior Jesus Christ, the Living Word of Almighty God.
He is indeed the Poetry of my heart.
End As Well As You Began
There is a Beginning
To every Book of Life:
Pages written full of glory;
Paragraphs of strife …
Lines full of loving;
Lines full of fears;
Pauses for pondering—
Periods of tears …
Unfinished sentences—like unfinished goals
For those ones Death claimed early,
As the Maker claimed their souls.
There are spaces for the Dreamer,
Spaces for the Poet. . .
A reason for the writing
‘Though some may never know it.
Many may wish to be
To be edited, enlarged, or cut—
But God alone knows every word
…He knows whose life wrote what.
So—I hope that my every statement
Is well written when I sign.
And I hope He’s pleased
With what He reads,
When He comes to reading mine.
May my Book be worth the writing.
May my words be soft and sweet.
And—when He calls me
At The Ending—
May all my Pages be complete!
Copyright©1983 by Wanda C. Hilyer