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Poetry by David Hatton

David L. Hatton is a bivocational minister and nurse. He graduated from Maranatha Baptist Bible College in 1972 with a BA in Bible and from New College Berkeley in 1988 with an MA in Cross-Cultural Studies. Before becoming an RN in 1981, he worked a few years with Gospel Outreach in Northern California and with Jeunesse en Mission (Youth With a Mission) in Quebec. He has been an ER nurse, but for more than two decades has worked in labor and delivery. Ordained within The Wesleyan Church in 2001, David presently pastors a small congregation of seniors in a retirement village. His hobbies are art, writing, and hiking with his wife Rosemary, with whom he lives in Sacramento, California. Married in 1971, they have 12 children and a growing number of grandchildren.

MACHPELAH
(Genesis 23)

Our grieving father Abraham—of faithful hearts the head—
Had bargained for a Hittite cave where he could place his dead,
His spouse and sister Sarah, who was partner in God’s will
To bring the promised blessing, which their Offspring would fulfill.

Believing God would give him all the land to which he came,
He made a token purchase of a portion in his name:
A simple plot for burying the dust of family love,
While looking for the City that would come from God above.

So too, in mournful sorrow, we have planted cherished dust,
Expecting God to keep His Word, the hope in which we trust—
Anticipating that the ground we tread beneath our feet
Will leave its bondage to decay and find its joy complete.

The promised Seed of Abraham already came and sought
A piece of new creation, which His Cross and cave-tomb bought.
He took that fleshly portion back to Heaven as His own.
When His feet touch this earth again, the world will cease to groan.

In faith we wait for graves to yield the harvest of our grief.
The coming resurrection will fulfill our heart’s belief
In God’s plan for reunion of the body and the soul,
Of which life’s sweet embraces are mere tokens of the goal.

David L. Hatton (12-23-2011)
from POEMS BETWEEN BIRTH AND RESURRECTION © 2013
http://pastordavidrn.com

FOOT WASHING IN HEAVEN

There once was quite a preacher who taught "God's truth alone,"
Convinced that all his insights were those God wanted known.
He fought against "false doctrine" that did not match his creed
And knew his understanding was what all Christians need.

At death he left behind him a string of faithful few
Who fed upon his teachings and formed "The Church That's True."
But when He got to Heaven, and stood before the King,
The words that he was hearing had this unpleasant ring:

"So you have been My spokesman? It's you who showed My way?
My Bride that I have gathered is solely what you say?
My Flock that is one Body has shrunk to fit your frame?
You think I bless such 'wisdom' you've sanctioned in My Name?

"My blessing's on the Chosen, who chose Me as their own.
Already, those who've entered, now rest before My throne.
If you would care to join them, then humbly take a seat,
For you have no part with them, unless they wash your feet."

Despairingly disgruntled, the teacher sadly sat,
And those he deemed in error, which every age begat,
Came one by one to wash him, as eons slowly passed,
And Christ stood by observing, until the very last.

"I'm happy you have joined them, and they are one with you.
But there remains a duty that you must follow through.
It's your turn now," said Jesus. "Oh no!" the teacher whined.
"Please, wash the feet," He pointed, "of those your words maligned."

David L. Hatton, 6/5/2011


I Sing the Body Immortal

I sing the body immortal,
inborn longing, reflexive wish, certain vision
of flesh immune to death's decay and death.

Ignoring hope falsely borrowed
from the fate of angels, holy or fallen
(who never knew pilgrimage with matter,
were never clothed in Adam's flesh,
will never indwell these ashes from stars),
I sing a physical resurrection
and not some disembodied destiny.

I sing the body immortal,
the lifting of sin's curse, end of creation's groaning,
sole specific hope of human souls.

I sing the invitation from the Son of God and Man,
daring to don the image of Himself
to live our life and die our death
to glorify that prototypic form,
rising in it, ascending in it, returning in it,
graciously calling us to join His reign
within and above a seeming infinitude of Space
strewn with myriad star-crowded galaxies
waiting to be explored in the endless adventure
of spirits wrapped immortally in cosmic clay.

I sing the body immortal,
the new birth of God's originality
in blowing His own breath into lifeless dust,
eternal fulfillment of a divine design
far beyond the wildest dreams imagined
in Earth's long history of sages and prophets.

I sing a God-like spirit-soul humanity
forever wed to worlds of molecules
with wiggling toes and skipping feet
and kneeling knees and dancing legs,
with slender trunk and sturdy back,
with distinguishing pubic shaft or cleft
and unblemished skin over muscle and limb,
with masculine breadth in shoulders and chest
or delicate fullness in feminine breasts
and sparse hair, or missing, with color returned,
with hands that can clasp and build and play
and fingers that write and can sculpt and caress,
with neck that can turn at the sound of a bird
and eyes that are dazzled by beauty and form
and ears that still revel in music and song
and nose for enchantment with nature's perfumes,
with mouth that can taste and delight in sweet fare
and lips that can speak with a voice or a kiss.

I sing body and soul made finally whole,
the mind and the will incarnate, connected,
displaying the glory of God's naked image
clad shamelessly in Jesus' merits alone,
enjoying, encompassing, expressing
eternal life in the true bodily resurrection
promised by the resurrected Son of God and Man.

Because of Christ Jesus, Firstborn from the dead,
I sing the body immortal.

David L. Hatton, 6/5/2011


The Knock    

(John 3:19)    

Departure was sudden: no time to think twice.
Her body remained on the bed, cold as ice.
From dear ones and friends, all at once, she was torn,
Her soul as stark bare as the day she was born.
Then earth quickly shrank till it faded away.
She sped toward a Light that was brighter than day,
Until in the midst of an angelic host
She stood, an embarrassed and unprepared ghost.

A powerful angel stepped up to her side.
"Afraid?" was his thought. "Not so badly," she lied.
He led her past mansions with beautiful halls,
Past gardens enclosed with impassible walls,
Past streets that were golden with musical names,
Past parks full of children enjoying their games,
Past God's royal palace and pearly white gate.
She wondered, "Aren't these to be part of my fate?"

Her life had been normal, as far as she knew,
And even quite moral. Her sins were so few!
She talked of religion, but not very much,
And prayer was for cripples who needed a crutch.
But proud was her thoughts about one thing she'd done:
She ridiculed all who claimed Christ was God's Son.
By teachings and textbooks and lectures she knew
The Bible was myth! It could never be true!

"Then, we were not real?" spoke the guide to her mind.
Rebuke filled his gaze, "You were never that blind!"
Her conscience was pricked by the truth she once knew
But slowly rejected, the older she grew.
She groped for excuses to hide her mistake...
The Light unveiled all of her reasons as fake.
Both Nature and remembered miracles cried
To topple her arguments spawned in her pride.

At last she was led through a handleless door
To enter a room with a lamp on the floor,
A room with no corners, one wall in a round,
And one empty cup and a plate on the ground,
A single small window, no furnishings there,
No rug and no couch, not a table or chair,
No bed to lie down on, no closet, no shelf,
Not one scrap of clothing to cover her self.

The angel stood staring with sad, solemn face
With Light still exposing her naked disgrace.
Then, livid with anger, she lunged with a shout,
And slamming the door, she shut both of them out.
She locked herself in with a thrill of revolt --
On her side the door had a latch and a bolt.
"He comes! Even so!" from the angel she heard.
He left, while she cringed at his worrisome word.

As twilight drew on, from her lone pane she peered,
And coming on foot was the One that she feared.
"Oh God, for a curtain!" she screamed with a frown,
Then under the window she threw herself down
And packaged her nakedness up in a ball
As tightly as possible next to the wall
To shield, if she might, from the Holy One's eyes
Her coldness to Him, her enthrallment with lies.

His footsteps fell silent, and gently He tapped...
Three echoes resounded. She felt herself trapped!
She sweated and shivered, with longing and fear:
"What is it? Who are You? Why come to me here?"
"I come to your heart and stand knocking once more.
We'll feast here today, if you'll open the door."
"But You know I'm naked, and You'll see my shame!"
A moment passed by, and again the knock came.

Forever, he knocked! She continued to wait,
And hunger arose, as she stared at the plate.
The cup also started to tempt her to thirst.
His knock was now urgent, much more than at first.
But dusk turned to darkness. His tap became dim.
At last, the Light vanished with it and with Him.
Her cup and plate, too, disappeared out of sight.
The lamp-flame alone stood opposing the night.

Then shortly, when gloom and its shadows were deep,
Approaching her doorway, she felt a crowd creep,
And drawn to peer out of the window again
She sighed with relief to see those wanting in:
"Familiar acquaintances visiting now!
But nothing to wear! I must fix that somehow..."
So, kneeling, she blew out the tiny lamp's glow,
Then fell with Hell's host to the torments below.

David L. Hatton, 6/5/2011



Where?

When the world of wealth and worry lie a wasteland in the dust;
When all war machines are memories, and weapons flaking rust;
When the scorning of the sceptic shifts from mocking into moans,
And the wrath of vicious tyrants turns in pain to endless groans;
When the gates of Hell are shut that were so broadly open wide,
Will you have your home in Heaven, or be lost in tears outside?

After all our politicians and their promises are still;
After Earth is free from every judge who courted Satan's will;
After science and technology have ceased to fuel our greed,
And our public schools are damned for disregarding moral need,
Will you know eternal blessings that the Prince of Peace outpours,
Or be mournfully regretting the decision that was yours?

When the King of Kings returns to bring the justice He foretold;
When the scrolls recording every word and deed have been unrolled;
When His light reveals the motives that each human heart enclosed,
And all thoughts have been laid bare, and silly reasoning exposed,
Will you stand in Christ's forgiveness by His blood's amazing grace,
Or be fleeing to the Pit to hide in darkness from His face?

While the blind who saw by faith will have the Lord they loved in view;
While the lame who walked in holiness will dance their joys anew;
While the deaf who heeded Jesus will be hearing angel choirs,
And the sinner, who repented, writing songs that God inspires,
Will you also be rejoicing as we celebrate the King,
Or be pining in a plight of doom from doing your own thing?

David L. Hatton, 6/5/2011



The Dark Side of the Cross

Brokenly we stumble down the twisted trails of life,
Struggling to discover peace in self-made worlds of strife,
Fighting to escape our fears of losing what we gain,
Craving for a feast of pleasures free from any pain.
Yet, upon these broad and damning roads beneath our feet,
There's a solemn shadow that our steps may often meet.
In the setting sun of earthly dreams there stands a Cross,
Casting hope upon those paths of everlasting loss.
From its slender shade, which seems at first so cramped and tight,
Comes a whispered offer for a journey into Light.
Once, there was no exit; now a doorway stands in view,
Open for the weary passerby to walk on through.
Oh but how it looks constricted, narrow as the grave,
Waiting to convert the seeker's soul into its slave
By its strong death-dealing nails for fixing limbs to wood:
No more wandering the world we thought we understood;
No more squandering of precious gifts that God bestows;
No more pity for ourselves for self-engendered woes;
No more place for stubbornness within our willful heart--
Selfish thrones must topple, proud dominions fall apart;
No more so-called freedom for our flesh to play the fool;
Only crucifixion, setting Jesus free to rule . . .
Harsh and strict, this pathway through the Cross of Christ appears,
Warning all who enter of its dark side's loss and tears.
Yet, if we have thought it out and in that way have stepped,
We elude what choked our lives, rejoicing where we wept.
Such emancipation on the Cross's other side
Opens up to us a realm extremely rich and wide.
Heaven's light unveils a vast expanse where glory shines.
Holy wealth with pure delight and beauty intertwines.
Far beyond imagination, rapture fills our souls.
Endless joy in useful service flows from godly goals.
What were not true friendships in the world we leave behind
Change to new, real fellowship we'd always hoped to find.
On the Cross's brighter side, our destination's clear.
Working out His Word and will, we sense His presence near.
Jesus walked the dying side to hellish depths below
To unlock the living side, where treasures overflow:
Mysteries of faith and prayer, His Body's bread and wine,
Light of Life, a life of Love, and love for Light Divine.
What He purchased when He hung as "nothing" on the Tree
Was to be our everything: His life in you and me.
So, don't flee the Cross because you see its darker side.
Don't keep running off to find a wider place to hide.
Stop and leave the worldly highway, choose no more to roam:
Make the Cross of Jesus yours, and it will lead you home.

David L. Hatton, 6/5/2011



The Three Visions of Balthasar

When Gaspar, Melchior and I
Had journeyed long toward the Star,
A vision came to haunt my heart;
I heard a voice call: "Balthasar!"
My world grew empty, dull and dark,
The thrill of magic left my soul,
The Star that glittered up ahead
Became in me a burning coal.
The voice that called spoke yet again.
"Behold," it cried, and I could see
That wealth and fame and wisdom's store
Began to faint and fade and flee,
And all I sought for years before
Seemed useless now within the night
That closed about my trembling breast,
As we rode on toward the Light.
The two Magicians heard this tale
At dawn before we stopped and slept.
They nodded silently and stared,
And Gaspar bowed his head and wept.

A second night, as we went on,
The mystic Light became a stream
That swirled and churned into a flood
That filled the smiles of every dream.
Then tragically it turned to blood,
And darkness smothered all the sky,
Until the flood began to gleam
And once again swirled up on high!
It brightly shone upon the earth
As if its beam of living Light
Would somehow give my life new birth!
And when I shared with Melchior
The second vision from the Star
He said, while gazing to the West,
"It's well we came, O Balthasar."

That night of brightest astral glow,
Before we came to Palestine,
My eyes upon the Silver Glare
Beheld a final startling sign:
I saw our world was filled with vice--
How rich had trampled down the poor,
How women's flesh was sold for lust,
How every land was red with war,
How good men's hopes were turned to dust.
I watched a billion infants scream
And starve, while cattle fed on wheat.
But some were killed before they cried,
While help to spare them met defeat.
I saw how love and justice died;
How men in passion laid with men;
How violence ran the village street:
The planet staggered in its sin!
But suddenly the Star burst forth
And many sparkles left the earth
And rose to join the raging Star.
The world below had lost its worth--
It moaned in self-made misery.
Then, purging flames fell quickly down
And quenched man's tragic history.
A voice called softly, "Balthasar..."
And I looked up with fearful eye
To see the peaceful, faithful Star
Shine gently in the Western sky.

When my companions heard this too,
We vowed to leave our magic arts
And serve this King the Star announced,
To bow to Him with humble hearts.
And you who hear my mystic song,
If you are wise, as I am gray,
Will also seek to find that King,
And worship Him, and wait His day.


Copyright © 5-5-2005