A Poem for Our Times

Written by Devon Bowman

For a long period in my life I never really had much time for poetry and never gave it much thought. It always felt like something that you just read and talked about in school just because it was what you were required to do. It never felt like it had any genuine purpose. Maybe it was a deficiency in the teaching I received but I am more inclined to blame myself for my approach. It is more helpful that way. However, I have recently been reading more poetry and it has been quite wonderful. So I am going to share today a poem that many of you I am sure have at least heard once. It is one of my favorites by Robert Frost titled, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

The first time this poem really hit me I knew it was one I should memorize and take to heart. I believe that all of us can identify with the writer here. We see something beautiful, something God-given and God-breathed, something that causes us to stop. However, in the end the loveliness of this is quickly overshadowed by obligations and things calling us onward. 

In many ways we cannot stay looking at the woods forever. Life does involve necessary obligations. The sad reality of today is that many of us feel as though we cannot even stop in the wood. We have miles and promises that make rest and Sabbath seem like a pipe dream. In reality, the beauty of creation and the blessing of our Father’s gifts are what give us the life He desires for us. To stop in the woods is to be fully human. 

Sabbath is a command because it acknowledges the goodness of God and His place as creator. It says that His provision is greater than if we worked. So embrace the tension that this poem highlights. Stop and look around you. Look at the wood, the lake, the person in the chair next to you. The task will remain and you may find yourself more alive than ever.
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