Till The Day Break by Tom Darin Liskey

I love old boneyards. I really do. Not in a morose kind of way, though. It’s healthy, in fact. Let me explain what I mean.

I fell in love with old cemeteries during my stint at the college of Charleston in South Carolina, shortly after I accepted Christ. I was new to the city, and new to faith. It was a pretty lonely time for me, and I really didn’t know if I had the fortitude to make it as a Christian. On those gloomy, winter nights where I “wrestled” with God, I’d walk around the city praying and I’d sometimes end up in one of Charleston’s old churchyards. I’m an avid reader, and before I realized it, I was walking among the tombstones reading their epitaphs.

The tombstones of those believers who had passed on before me in that beautiful Southern city helped to inspire my embryonic faith. Because even before Twitter doubled the number of characters in a Tweet, the messages on those headstones were plainspokenly poignant.

He Died as He Lived: A Christian…

Mary Fell Asleep On 12 July 1731…

Till the Day Break…

That last one is from a small village in Southwestern, England. These four simple words are a powerful reminder of what death is for the believer.

I travel a lot, both here and abroad. Any chance I get, I’ll look for cemeteries to visit. Not because its spooky or creepy, but because I believe in Christ crucified and Christ risen from the dead.  Sure, I’ve made it this far as a Christian, not because of fortitude, but because of grace. I still struggle at times, and I’ve stumbled and fallen more times than I’d like to mention. But in each instance, I’ve gotten pulled out of the muck.

But I still hang around graveyards occasionally.  And sometimes a headstone like the one in England will help to remind me that I too am just a sojourner. My hope resides in knowing that someday Christ will call us from our slumber…and there will be no need for epitaphs.

 


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

 

D I G  D E E P E R


Tom Darin Liskey

 

Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey

More Than Just Cowboys by Tom Darin Liskey

We try to let people know about the reason for what we do.


The trailer hitched to the Ford F-350 groans as the driver navigates a tricky backwards maneuver. The trailer carries three snorting bulls, each one weighing over 1,000 pounds, for today’s riding competition. The animals don’t like the trailer’s jerky motion. One of the bulls bellows and kicks against the trailer’s metal walls.

After two or three fretful attempts, the driver finally gets the trailer lined up. The bulls don’t need much coaxing to exit the cramped trailer when the ramp hits the hoof-scarred earth with a rattle. The animals leap from the trailer with surprising grace and alacrity. A group of teenagers in cowboy hats and Wranglers lean on the metal fence and yee-haw the animals onwards for good measure.

Scenes like this are played out every weekend across the Lone Star State, but the bull riding competition today isn’t taking place in your typical rodeo arena.

Located just across from Caney Creek Cowboy church in east Montgomery, Texas, hand-painted signs near the pens admonish any foul-mouthed bull rider or cowboy to watch their language and vices. In other words, no smokin’ and cussin’.

While the church was started in 2005, Mark Crimes came on as pastor in 2007. The church had about thirty people and $16 in the bank at the time. Caney Creek has grown in leaps and bounds since then. About 1,000 worshippers show up for Sunday service these days.

Since the early 2000s, Cowboy Churches have been sprouting along American highways and rural communities at a breakneck speed. While some Cowboy Churches are so in name only, Grimes and the Caney Creek congregation are the real deal. There is a meadow for bulls to graze and a rodeo arena just outside the church’s doors. Grimes is keen on pointing out that the church wants to use this arena for outreach rather than just sport.

“It’s a rough life to live,” say Grimes with surprising candor. He looks out to the dusty arena. Losing out on the purse isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Getting bucked by a bull can lead to some serious injuries or even death.

Several riders lay their gear on the grass near the bull pens: chaps, spurs and well-worn cowboy boots. Two competitors loop bull ropes through the fence. The brim of their cowboy hats pulled low against the punishing Texas sun, they clutch rock-like rosin in their gloved hands. Rosin gets sticky when it is rubbed on the rope. There’ll be less of a chance for a rider’s hand to slip off the rope once the bull shoots at of the chute.

But there’s one other thing that sets this rodeo apart.

Racial tension still forms a fault line in American life.  Here in the Caney Creek church regardless of race, faith and respect are mostly on display.  Afro American riders help their Hispanic counterparts, who in turn help the Anglo riders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grimes climbs on a fence to call the riders and the people in the stands to order. He starts off with an introduction and then a call to prayer that sounds more like a sermon than supplication.

I look around as heads begin to bow and white, black and brown hands reach out together in a sacred moment, and I can’t help but thinking that this is how it should be everyday.

 

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

D I G  D E E P E R


Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey

 

 


Amazing Grace by John Newton (1779)

Blue Veil by Tom Darin Liskey

AMAZING GRACE
John Newton

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.


Rick WilcoxDid Newton inspire the writers of Europe’s Romantic movement? Various critics have seen him as anticipating Blake’s prophetic vision, or as a source for Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or for episodes in Wordsworth’s “Prelude.”  One thing is certain: Amazing Grace is the best known hymn of all time, and its words are carved into the heart of millions.

As Terry Glaspey explains in 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

“Amazing Grace” debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s collection Olney Hymns, along with 347 other hymns that one or the other of them had penned. At the time, “Amazing Grace” did not distinguish itself as more significant than any of the others, and for a time it lapsed into obscurity. It was only in the United States, during the Second Great Awakening (c. 1780–1840), that the song was rediscovered and used extensively among the revivalists, who saw it as an effective way to communicate their emphasis upon human sinfulness and the necessity of reaching out for God’s grace. It fit with their passionate preaching and calls for a personal experience of salvation through repentance and an embrace of God’s grace.

It is not clear what melody was used when the hymn debuted, and it has been associated with more than twenty tunes over the years. But in 1835, when it was joined to a traditional tune by William Walker called “New Britain,” it had found its perfect pairing. This is the version of “Amazing Grace” by which it is most commonly known today, arguably the most popular and famous of all hymns. One Newton biographer estimates that it is performed about ten million times worldwide each year.

Is the song Amazing Grace part of a special memory in your life?


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

D I G  D E E P E R


Amazing Grace

John Newton

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

 

John Newton

(1725–1807), *Evangelical divine. The son of a shipmaster, he was impressed into naval service, in the course of which he was converted on 10 Mar. (NS 21) 1748, though for some years he continued to be a slavetrader, From 1755 to 1764 he was Tide Surveyor at Liverpool. At this time he came under the influence of G. *Whitefeld, and also began studying Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac. He considered entering the Dissenting ministry, but on being offered the curacy of Olney, he was ordained by the Bp. of Lincoln in 1764. Here he collaborated with W. *Cowper in the production of the Olney Hymns (1779). In 1780 he was appointed rector of St Mary Woolnoth, London, and held this post until his death. Among the better-known of his hymns, which are remarkable for their directness and simplicity, are ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds’. He was also the author of several prose works, including letters and sermons. In theology he was a moderate *Calvinist and much influenced many leaders in the *Evangelical Revival, among them T. *Scott, W. *Wilberforce (whom he also aided in his campaign against slavery), C. *Simeon and Hannah *More.

The Life and Times of John Newton 1725–1807

1725 Newton is born in London to John & Elizabeth Newton.

1732 Elizabeth Newton dies.

1744 Newton is impressed on board H.M.S. Harwich.

1745 Newton attempts desertion and is whipped and degraded to rank of seaman.

1748 Near-shipwreck of Greyhound provokes spiritual crisis.

February 1750 Newton marries Mary Catlett, daughter of George & Elizabeth.

May 1754 Newton meets fellow believer, Captain Andrew Clunie.

November 1754 Epileptic seizure convinces Newton to leave the slave trade.

June 1755 Newton listens to George Whitefield preach in London.

August 1755 Newton begins his work as tide surveyor in Liverpool.

June 1764 Lord Dartmouth achieves ordination for Newton in the Church of England; Newton accepts curacy at Olney.

August 1764 Publication of Authentic Narrative makes public Newton’s life story.

1767 William Cowper arrives at Olney.

January 1773 Newton preaches on 1 Chronicles 17:16, 17, and writes Amazing Grace to accompany the sermon.

1774 Publication of “The Omicron Letters” offers some of Newton’s finest teachings on the spiritual life.

1779 Publication of Olney Hymns establishes Newton’s reputation as a hymn-writer.

December 1779 Church of England inducts Newton as rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London.

1780 Publication of Cardiphonia makes Newton’s extensive correspondence available to the public.

January 1783 Newton calls the first meeting of the Eclectic Society.

December 1785 William Wilberforce visits Newton’s home.

1788 William Pitt calls Newton before the Privy Council on the subject of the slave trade.

December 1807 Newton dies in London.

1726 Jonathan Swift publishes Gulliver’s Travels.

May 1735 George Whitefield comes to a “full assurance of faith.”

May 1738 John Wesley feels his heart “strangely warmed.”

1742 George Frederick Handel composes Messiah.

1756–1763 France and England vie for American possessions during the Seven Years’ War.

1770 Captain James Cook explores Botany Bay on the shoreline of Australia.

1776–1783 American colonies revolt and form independent nation.

1782 Charles Simeon appointed as curate-in-charge of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge.

1783 King George III appoints William Pitt as prime minister of Britain.

1787 Freed slaves found the British colony of Sierra Leone in West Africa.

1788 English convicts found British colony in Sydney, Australia.

1789 French mob storms the Bastille and begins a revolution.

1797 Prominent evangelicals found the Church Missionary Society.

1807 Britain abolishes the slave trade in her colonies.

1834 Parliament passes the Abolition of Slavery Act.

Sources and Resources

“The Life and Times of John Newton 1725–1807,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 81: John Newton: Author of “Amazing Grace” (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 2004).

Coll. edn. of his Works by R. Cecil (6 vols., London, 1808). Newton pub. much of his religious correspondence anonymously in Omicron (1774), Cardiphonia (2 vols., 1781), Letters to a Wife (2 vols., 1793), and Letters to the Rev. W. Bull (posthumous, 1847). Journal of a Slave Trader (John Newton) 1750–1754 ed. B. [D.] Martin and M. Spurrell (1962) F. J. Hamilton (ed.), ‘Out of the Depths’, being the Autobiography of the Rev. John Newton (1916). Memoir by R. Cecil (London, 1808). Other Lives by J. Bull (ibid., c. 1868), B. [D.] Martin (ibid., 1950), and J. [C.] Pollock, Amazing Grace (ibid., 1981). D. E. Demaray, The Innovation of John Newton (1725–1807): Synergism of Word and Music in Eighteenth Century Evangelism (Texts and Studies in Religion, 36; Lewiston, NY, etc. [1988]), D. B. Hindmarsh, John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition (Oxford, 1996). M. L. Loane, Oxford and the Evangelical Succession (1950), pp. 81–132.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1150–1151.

Bond, Douglas. The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts. Crawfordsville, IN: Reformation Trust, 2013.
Cook, Faith. Our Hymn Writers and Their Hymns. Faverdale North, UK: Evangelical Press, 2005.
Houghton, Elsie. Classic Christian Hymn Writers. Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publishing, 1982.
Ryden, Ernest Edwin. The Story of Our Hymns. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1930.
Smith, Jane Stuart, and Betty Carlson. Great Christian Hymn Writers. Wheaton: Crossway, 1997.
Turner, Steve. Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Song. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
Watts, Isaac. A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody, 1707.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Tom Darin Liskey

 

Tom Darin Liskey

Art: Blue Veil

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

This article appeared originally in  Change Seven literary magazine.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey

 

Terry Glaspey

 

Terry Glaspey

I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.

Let’s explore together!

Terry

Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE

Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.

He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know:  Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.

Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.

He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.

Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com

 

Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Order it HERE today.

My Dark Pilgrimage Into Light (Conclusion) by Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey

What drove me to this church began with a deep funk that began more than a year ago.

I had just come off a severe sickness when I woke up one morning feeling that invisible weight of depression. I’ll be honest, I have struggled with depression for most of my life. There have been ebbs and flows over the years, but this latest episode just crushed me. Maybe what made it so brutal this time around was unrequited grief.

Over a span of about three years last decade, I lost my mother, sister and our twins in a miscarriage. I thought I has shouldered through the darkness for the last several years. But I was wrong. I still carried my dead with me. My heart was on the anvil. It felt like those hammer blows were either going to break me, or reshape me.

During the worst of it, I lost my church. People who I believed were like a family to me. But as I slipped deeper into the depression, that first couple of Sundays without going to church soon bled into an absence lasting months; an absence that failed to inspire any outreach from the church leadership.

Eventually, a friend from that congregation asked me why I didn’t ‘reach out’ to them during the worst of the depression. But all I could think was, how do ‘you reach out’ when you’re hanging on by your fingernails? Whatever the body of Christ is, depression left me feeling like a blemish on its skin.

I would have otherwise walked away from church if it had not been for that faith project. It was the tether keeping moored in a pitch-black tempest, even when I’d walk into an empty church in some foreign country and sit on the back pew to talk to God in the silence.

From the hot lands of Beasley Texas to the rugged north of Welsh-speaking Wales, photography has become that doorway out of the darkness. Each image has been an act of revelation in some form or another. Every act kindness from all the congregations I’ve visited, every tiny morsel of fellowship offered to me by my fellow sojourners has tasted as sumptuous as a feast in this wilderness. Maybe that’s what the “body” is…

I use the story about the Indian girl in the cotton-belt church because her simple act of kindness touched me at a very tough moment in my life. It felt like my soul was on the knife-edge of reality.

Below me was the abyss.

I can’t say enough about the simple acts of kindness from all the Anglicans, Catholics and Charismatic churches that opened their doors to me. I’m indebted to my unbelieving friends who went with me on some of these photo expeditions in the English countryside and Wales. So, there you go. I guess God has his way of doing things.

 

That Indian congregation where the girl in blue greeted me, asked me to break bread with them in a traditional meal after mass.

 

I felt welcome that day.

 

Some months later, a tiny Jewish congregation in remote Suriname offered me bread and salt after their Sabbath service. A congregation originally founded by the Jews who fled Portugal and Spain in the 17th century.

I walked back to my hotel that night, the taste of salt on my lips.

 

In Georgetown, Guyana, three young women posed for me as the afternoon sun poured through the tall stain-glass windows in the back of a church.

 

They sat on the stairs so that I could take pictures.

 

In Mexico, Jose Luis Lopez, a church warden at Catedral de Porta Coeli, or the Church of the Gate of Heaven (of the Greek-Melkite rite) welcomed me in his sanctuary on a chilly winter afternoon with these simple words:

“You are welcome here.

Our church is your church too.”

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

D I G  D E E P E R


Tom Darin Liskey

 

Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

This article appeared originally in  Change Seven literary magazine.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey

My Dark Pilgrimage Into Light by Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey

The incense wafts in thick coils, redolent and sweet. The smoke creates ghost-like apparitions that drift in the penumbra of this makeshift tabernacle that once served as a barn in the cotton-belt of southeastern Texas.

From the window next to me, I catch the sudden flash of peacock feathers spreading out like a winning hand of poker. The proud bird is perched on a fencepost outside this place where members of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church have gathered to worship.

I’ve come to Beasley, Texas to be with them as part of a narrative photo project exploring faith. Much to my surprise, his Grace Alexios Mar Eusebius, the Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox, gave me permission to photograph the early Saturday mass. One of the priests has cleared a corner for me to take pictures.

The original idea behind the project was to explore faith using images, from Norman church architecture in the English countryside to more exotic congregations like this in South Texas.

The devotees in Beasley proudly trace their spiritual roots all the way back to St Thomas, the resurrection skeptic who eventually brought the gospel to the sub-continent over two thousand years ago. These orthodox Indians, in turn, have brought their colorful liturgy to the American Bible-belt where church malls and the franchise mentality sometimes dominate the religious landscape of today.

This is also a traditional congregation. Church members peel off their sandals and shoes at the door. The building may appear to lack artifice, but the richly decorated “inner sanctuary” is holy ground. Celebrants worship barefoot.

Mass has just begun, and more women walk in and sit on the right side of the church. They wear the bright saris of India with headscarves. I even spot a couple of church members clad in shalwar kameezes (pantaloons with long tunics). Lost to the majesty of it all, the younger children wiggle in their parents’ arms.

Then we come to the part of the mass where celebrants greet each other. The resonance of Malayalam prayers and rattling cymbals linger in the air. From the front of the church, a young girl breaks away from her mother. I can see her approaching me in my little corner. Her hands are pressed together as if in prayer. The veil covering her dark hair flutters like a patch of blue sky in the shadows. She can’t be more than twelve.

When she stands before me, she raises her fingertips and bows her head.

“She is offering you a ‘kiss of peace,’” the man next to me says.

But I shake my head. I am not part of her devotion. I am a believer, but I am also an ecclesiastical exile. All the other good Christian Soldiers are leading this parade of faith, I tell myself with some bitterness. I am a straggler, limping on the road with all of God’s other walking wounded.

“This is our greeting,” the man adds. He presses his hands together and nods for me to do the same. I clumsily return the girl’s sudden act of kindness. Our fingertips touch in this welcoming gesture for the stranger in their midst.

And in that one moment my heart, grief-worn and dirty with doubt, sees the face of God.

To Be Continued

 


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

 

D I G  D E E P E R


Tom Darin Liskey

 

Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

This article appeared originally in  Change Seven literary magazine.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey

What Do You Seek?

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Great Expectations
Charles Dickens

There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.


RickOur lives, like the characters of Dickens’ finest novel, are filled with great expectation.  We likewise are often disappointed –  in spite of our tenacious optimism – because life rarely matches the lofty dreams of our youth.  Adults whose childhood dreams took them to riches and glory are soon resolved to lives much dimmer than their grand imaginations.

Our hearts yearn for God and the grandeur of His company, but His voice is still and small.  We expect majesty, but He comes to us as the hungry, naked or imprisoned stranger. Rather than a throne, we find a manger.

John Henry Newman put this point well in the great hymn of the Angelicals, part of his Dream of Gerontius, but familiar to congregations across the world as Praise to the Holiest in the height

And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God’s Presence and His very Self,
And Essence all divine.

As Alister McGrath wrote in Incarnation

The image of a vulnerable child has always served to emphasize the humility of God, both in entering this world in the first place, and in such a menial situation in the second. For Christian artists, the point is simple: the more we trust that God really did enter into our history as one of us, the more we can be reassured that we shall finally be raised up into those heavenly places in which the Christ-child now reigns in glory.

Yes, majesty awaits and accompanies His glory, but our eyes are blinded by lesser lights of the temporal, the profane and the empty promises of the world.  Our hearts were indeed created to long for Him but wisdom prays for open eyes.

It is expectancy rather than expectations that guides us home.

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Matthew 25:31–46

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

 


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Literature, Liturgy & The Arts


Homelessness in America

Tom Darin Liskey

 

Anthony carries an old family bible with him. His favorite book is John, specifically the verses where Jesus said “I am the true vine.” This is what he tells me about the bible: “This was my mother’s, and her mother’s before her. This book has given us a lot of shelter from the storms over the generations.”

 

Elias rides his bike around downtown Houston with his two dogs, Rocky and Fifi, in the front basket. “They are my family. They’re my hijos.”

 

C. has a job, but still lives on the street. He’s also an artist. He draws on secondhand notebook pages, thrown out business forms, napkins, anything, in fact, with some blank space. He carries a collection of colored pencils worn down to the nub with his gear. “I love drawing, you know. Been doing it since I was a kid,” he says.

 

Tom Darin Liskey

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey