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THE  SPIRIT

It means so little,

When so little meet,

If the Spirit meets them not.

But when two or three

And the Spirit meet,

The meeting means a lot. [1]

                – eab, Jul. ’74


[1] Written at my first pastorate in Maryville, TN.

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It’s one thing to set biographical note,

Recounting birth and marriage, and death,

Merely stating the facts as they go,

From first to the latest breath.

It’s another entirely to contemplate,

Selectively choose, accurately state,

The feelings, the memories,

The anchoring points, old man-to-young

Reflecting, grateful for impressions,

Left, largely unsung.

 

He was old when we met, then I was ten,

(When anyone out of high school was old).

I was a Sunday School lad;

He was the Shepherd of the fold.

I could hear his bass from the platform ring

When he joined the congregation to sing.

And remember the morning

Obadiah was his Holy text,

Not expecting my nephew

Then two, to loudly say it next.

 

John Denver Webb was born when

Benjamin Harrison sat in the oval room.

He and Ike were a part

Of the eighteen-ninety “baby boom.”

While, Eisenhower’s “fifty-two” November,

Was the first campaign I remember.

Bro. Webb became, as I grew older,

(What “kid” likes old stuff?)

My cementing-link with history:

Great, and graceful, and gruff.

 

Why, he remembered boys going to war –

Teddy Roosevelt’s rough-riding boys!

His nineteen fourteen Cadillac, when two years old

Brought him great joys.

The open bi-plane introduced him to the sky,

He even saw Orville Wright fly,

And he ran the telegraph,

Once the life-line of the trains,

Before God saved and called him

Under old-time conviction pains.

 

His life covered that great early span of

Shelhamer and Rees, Culp, Fleming, and Ruth

He knew Charles Stalker; the man God saved,

And brightened his mind to truth.

And he shared a breakfast “spud,”

With that famous, Nazarene cowboy, Uncle Bud.

He slipped away on an October morn,

Away to heaven’s portal.

He changed old fleshly clothes, outworn,

Changed them for the immortal. [1]

                – eab, 10/86

 


[1] Brother Webb was my pastor c. 1953-1957 and later while he pastored in Clinton, TN, he prayed at our 1961 wedding.


[1] Brother Webb was my pastor c. 1953-1957 and later while he pastored in Clinton, TN, he prayed at our 1961 wedding.

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A cedar against a pink-lavender sky,

In the space between the neighboring oaks,

The silhouetted bird flies by,

The crickets sing an evening song,

A lowly cow lows, the day is closed,

While along the horizon

The pink fades and goes.

Sights and sounds the heart and mind

Senses but lets them slip.

A day is closing as others closed,

Slowly slithering beyond our grip,

The pink has departed;

Now the trees stand dark and still,

Black trees on a gray-blue sky,

As tree frogs “che che” at will.  [1]

          – eab, 10/75          

 

 


[1] First fall in Friendsville, Tennessee (Blount County)

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Fall, that most brilliant of seasons,

With an aroma all its own,

Has for various reasons

On my affections grown.

 

It’s partly all the color;

Red?  No, reddish brown?

Orange?  It’s one or the other,

That leaf that just fell down.

 

And it’s partly the falling leaf;

A twirl, a spin, a sliding drop;

A sky dive, Oh, so brief

With the slightest clatter of a stop.

 

And it’s also that “fally” odor;

Corn in shock, ear on stem,

Leaves when they’re walked over,

As you crunch your way through them.

 

A major part, I must admit

Is school; a bell, a book;

A different room in which to sit,

To listen, learn, and look.

 

And – I might as well be honest,

I like pumpkin pie, a little squash;

All the nuts the trees rain on us.

And Delicious, Jonathan, and McIntosh.

 

Fall’s nice warm days and cool nights,

That hazy, smoky distant view,

The full autumn moon that on us lights,

Those are truly reasons, too.

 

Oh, I know that fall must terminate

To winter; it is only just.

But I’ll enjoy autumn before it’s too late,

For enjoying fall is a must.

          – eab, 10/75

Written while pastoring Christ Church-Bible Methodist, Friendsville, TN.

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Upon a tree with serrated leaf, I found,

A fresh nut growing, smooth and round.

It had grown all summer, at its best,

But September still found it far from rest.

Its shape was right, its form – “No sweat.”

But maturity it was striving for, and

Hadn’t reached there yet.

Its size told that, a little small,

Give it time, “Rome wasn’t built in a fall.”

Its color also revealed its youth,

Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t uncouth.

It just lacked the brown of Autumn’s tone,

The pastel acorns claim for their own.

I’m sure given time it will be just right,

Big, full-fruited, sealed “Tupperware”-tight,

Grown-up color, maturity’s stroke,

The future, miniature, enduring oak.

But this morning, it’s not ready for all that,

Growing feet above the forest floor mat.

This morning it’s ready to be youthful and green,

To stick by its place and flourish unseen.

 

I’ve expressed in part what I felt to tell,

Youth to maturity – in a nutshell. 

                                       Farewell.     

 – eab, 9/76

 Written while I working with Christ Church – Bible Methodist, Christ College and Christ Academy in Friendsville, TN, but on a visit to Cincinnati.

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Come, leave your night of toiling

On the boisterous “boiling,”

Of an open-faced sea.

Come, leave the laborious net,

And the fish you DID get,

By simply obeying Me.

 

Come and dine; be ye filled,

‘Tis your Master who has willed,

A meal for weary men.

Come now, and be refreshed,

Far more than you had guessed

Possible while in sin.

                – eab, 7/80

Written while pastoring Christ Church-Bible Methodist, Friendsville, TN.

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Define this thing called talent.

Describe its dimensions please.

Does it come in large and small sizes?

Like holes in Swiss-like cheese.

 

God gives to each man one.

But what if He gave him two?

Or three or half a dozen –

Sorting’s a job to do.

 

What if the talents seem to counter?

If they both cannot be done,

Yet both were given by God –

Both have a right to run. 

          – eab, 6/84 

Penned while pastoring Christ Church – Bible Methodist, Friendsville, TN.

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