Wednesday, September 2, 2020

"Glimpsing Glory: Poems" by Catherine Lawton

There are times when you need to read a certain kind of book. It might be an old, revered novel; a well-written memoir that is as striking in its language as its profundity; a well-told work of history whose story simply grips up and won’t let go; or a collection of poetry that quiets the turmoil in your soul. These books generally have to find you in the right moment at the right time; you can’t go looking for them when you don’t know what it is you need.

Glimpsing Glory: Poems of Living & Dying, Praying & Playing, and Belonging & Longing by Catherine Lawton found me in the right place at right time. A combination of virus-restricted movement, growing horror at our country tears itself apart with violence, riots, and looting, and the sense that the country’s elites have indeed abandoned the people they should be leading have all taken a toll. And then along came Glimpsing Glory to remind me what was important.

The 65 poems (66 if you include the introduction) are divided in seven sections: relating, communing, trusting, living, dying, praying, and word-playing. Each poem is generally short, or shorter, and uses simple language. Each has a point, and one might argue, the same point – that this life is filled with glimpses, or hints, of the eternal and the glory of God. 

Sometimes that glimpse is obvious; sometimes, it’s subtle. But you read each of the poems and you find that inner turmoil settling down, replaced by a quiet and peace that seem to surround you. These poems all share that sense of quiet, whether they’re talking about family relationships, jazz bands, high school reunions, a mother’s song, or a deathbed vigil for a loved one. 

You even find that peace in a childhood memory of floating sticks in a stream, one that brings you full circle when your hair is graying.

Water Under the Bridge

Catherine Lawton
We were kids dropping
sticks off the bridge,
watching them splash,
catch in whirls,
tumble over rocks,
lodge in debris.
Some sailed smoothly
under and away, gone.
Others took time.

Time took us away
from that river bridge
to seas, coasts, plains
watered by other streams,
rooting in other shores;
till, years later, those
stuck sticks of dreamy
youth begin to dislodge
and float again, together—
worn, grayed, wiser—
on the relentless current
to the teeming ocean
where all streams lead.

You watch those sticks float, and you can see the glimmers of light caught on the water as the sticks sail into shadow. It’s a simple, common childhood memory that decades later remind you of the eternal.

The founder of Cladach Publishing, Lawton is the author of five books – two poetry collections (Remembering Softly: A Life in Poems and Glimpsing Glory); the non-fiction book Journeys to Mother Love; Face to Face, a novel; and the children’s story Something is Coming to Our World. She received a B.A. degree in English from Pasadena College / Point Loma Nazarene University and has worked as a teacher, church musician, editor, publisher, and speaker. She lives in Colorado.

You can wait and left a poetry collection like Glimpsing Glory find you, or you can actively seek it out. Either way, you’ll find balm for a troubled soul.

1 comment:

Cathy Lawton said...

Thank you, Glynn, for these words. I'm glad my poetry collection, Glimpsing Glory, found you. May "healing balm" and "reminders of the eternal" continue to come your way!
~Catherine Lawton