A Crown Awaits!

King Charles coronation calls attention to the crown that awaits all Christians

A crown awaits for England’s king
as church bells peal and choirs sing
their anthems asking God to save
this one who mounts the throne.

This treasured crown bedecked with gems
will rest upon the head of him
who waited patiently in line
until it was his turn.

But there’s another crown we’re told,
a wreath of beauty made of gold
that’s promised all who persevere
who run the race of faith.

This crown of righteousness awaits
that’s marked by grace. As St. Paul states
our royal status is derived
by being clothed in Christ.

The Paper Bag Poet Rhymes Again

An example of the paper bag poet’s creativity is seen in a park on Mercer Island

April is National Poetry Month. However, I celebrate poetry every month of the year. I have a rhyme for most every reason. I’ve written four books of poetry. I have a syndicated poetry blog for which I publish verses weekly. And truth be told, I write a rhyme of some kind most every day. Someone once suggested that my mind thinks in iambic pentameter.

The first poem I remember composing was for Mrs. Hendricks’ second grade class at Liberty Elementary School in Marysville. But my fascination with poetry really took off in high school and college. I wrote romantic lyrics for the girls I was dating. And I wrote parodies of classic poems in an attempt to impress my literature professor. Prior to Dr. Erickson’s lectures, I would arrive early to write a poem on the blackboard that would greet my classmates when they arrived. I gained a reputation for my wit and creativity. While escorting tours to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies during summer vacations, my penchant for writing humorous lyrics served me well. I wrote poetry for our farewell dinners.

Fast-forward 50 years. When COVID altered our lifestyles, new phrases like “sheltering in place” and “socially distancing” became incorporated into our daily parlance. We masked up before going out in addition to learning the importance of applying hand-sanitizing gel throughout the day. Lockdowns limited our normal activities. But gratefully, walking outside was never forbidden. As a result, my wife and I walked several times a week. In addition to being good for our hearts, it was good for our minds.

Enter Pioneer Park. Near to where Wendy and I live is an expansive forest of evergreen trees and well-maintained trails. When COVID first invaded, I would discover beautifully hand-painted rocks hidden on our walking path. It was like going on an Easter egg hunt. The stones were barely visible in the hollow of a decaying tree, at the base of a tree trunk or perched on a bench.

These commemorative stones typically included slogans like “Keep calm and socially distance!” “Breathe!” “You are loved!” and “Hope!” They were brief sentiments that invited passersby to walk on and look up. Sometimes the rocks offered a miniature portrait of a sunset or happy face.

And then it hit me. Even though I am not artistic with a brush, I love to paint word pictures. Why not pen a brief rhyme or an upbeat slogan on a brown paper bag and tack it to a tree on the trail? Hearing no objections, that’s exactly what I started to do. That was three years ago. And I am still doing it.

My most recent paper bag poem looks back on the pandemic in past tense. It simply says “What COVID stole left us sick but didn’t leave us poor.” Like many of my lunch bag offerings, it doesn’t actually rhyme. So, I guess you’d call them blank verse. All the same they are portraits on what is known as the poet tree.

Although I have attempted to keep my contributions anonymous, I’ve been caught a few times tacking a new poem to the tree. And now I’ve decided to publish the past three years of poems in a volume. Since my name will be on the cover, the bard of the forest won’t be anonymous any longer. The book’s rather unimaginative title is “Paper Bag Poems in Pioneer Park.” But the subtitle offers a clue to its practical use: “An Interactive Walking Journal.”

My hope is that the photos of the poems will inspire personal contemplation about how the message is applicable to those who read them. A blank page adjacent to each photo will provide space for the intended purpose of journaling ideas, resolutions, goals or tracking miles walked on any given day. Copies will be available at Island Books this summer as well as online.

He Did Know Jack!

C. S. Lewis was the focus of much of the late Earl Palmer’s research and ministry

If you knew Earl,
then you knew Jack
Two brilliant men who had a knack
for dusting for God’s fingerprints
and pointing us to grace.

And in the process joy found them
and guided these two godly men
along a path that led to truth
they longed so much to find.

Jack Lewis and Earl Palmer knew
that faith’s a journey ’til life’s through
and in the shadowlands we learn
the elements of trust.

Pain is God’s megaphone they found
that suff’ring becomes holy ground,
that coffins are not just a box.
They’re wardrobes in disguise.

Mere Christianity? Perhaps!
Two mirrored lives (without relapse)
who call us to reflect the light
they gave us through the years.

* Earl Palmer passed away on April 25, 2023 at the age of 91.


Charles’ Coronation Day

Dr. Charles Stanley was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta for more than fifty years

Well done, good servant,
faithful friend.
You proved most faithful
to the end.
And now a crown of righteousness
awaits as your reward.

You helped us be
“in touch” with grace.
Your Southern charm
gave grace a face.
“Now listen!” you would often say
to keep our minds engaged.

Your life became
an open book
as critics called us
all to look
at preachers who have feet of clay
(as if some are exempt).

But you stood tall
down on your knees.
You dotted “i”s
and crossed your “t”s
by asking God in humble prayer
that He would have your back.

And what you did
is what you taught:
A prayerful life
is mostly caught
by staying close to those who pray
and following their lead.

Yes, Charles,
what you preached is true.
We are not saved
by what we do.
Our crowning merit is a gift
that’s offered us by grace.

Peace to your memory!

Mirror Christianity

Aslan the lion is the Christ-like figure in the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

A lion prowls unseen by most.
He stalks my pride and hears me boast
of grabbing tigers by the tail
and doing things my way.

And Aslan is quite quick to chide
reminding me of times I’ve lied.
He guides me to a looking glass
so I can see my sin.

But as I gaze into the mirror
and glimpse the lion standing near,
I am encouraged by the fact
He will not let me go.

The true reflection that I see
(in spite of what I’ve failed to be)
provides a peek of Aslan’s grace
reminding me I’m loved.

This King of Beasts is hardly safe,
but He is good for Heaven‘s sake.
My tarnished image in the mirror
is not what Aslan sees.

Greg’s book,
When God Speaks
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $14.99 from
Lulu Books.