Friday, February 26, 2010

Power in the Blood

by Dina Sleiman

In case you haven't noticed, on the last Friday of each month, we feature poetry here on Inkwell Inspirations. Poetry has somewhat fallen out of fashion in our generation, except perhaps the "Spoken Word" variety, but it is a powerful and artistic form of writing, and I for one refuse to let it die.

Poetry can be defined as "the art of language." A poet takes words, forms them as a sculptor scults clay, as a dancer moves the body, and turns them into a work of unique beauty. When reading poetry, one must begin by slowing down. You cannot rush through poetry. There is not necessarily a point or a plot that you can skip through to find. Each poem should be read several times in order to digest meaning on a variety of levels. First, poems do have a literal meaning, despite popular opinion. They also mean pictorially through the images and metaphors. Poems mean through normal syntactical grammar, such as sentences and phrases, but they also mean line by line. They mean through sounds and patterns. They mean through the choice of words.

Perhaps this could seem threatening for those who like to keep things simple. Poems don’t find meaning in a logical 1 + 1 = 2 manner. They mean in exponential ways. Poetry can contain limitless possibilities. Don’t be afraid, just enjoy.

Last month we featured Roseanna White and her book A Stray Drop of Blood. As I read this amazing novel, I was reminded anew of the overwhelming power contained in even one stray drop of Christ's blood. Can you picture the imagery? What an awe-inspiring symbol. For me it brought to mind old songs about being washed and cleansed in the blood of Jesus. "There is power, power, wonder working power in the blood of the lamb." And, "Are you washed in the blood, in the soul cleansing blood of the lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are you white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb."

It also brought to mind a poem I once wrote about this subject.

Painted Red

After a long and shady path
she pushed back the last branch,
opened to a bewitching scene,
a small paradise, a pool that sparkled in sunlight,

a waterfall streaming down the sandstone walls.
The pool glistened
not crystal, but ruby—a deep red pool,
and the falls a bloody gash against the rocks,

flowing from a wooden cross atop the cliff.
The entire vale suffused in odd crimson glow.
She felt herself drawn, drawn forward, slowly, mesmerized.
Against all reason she was drawn, against all shame.

She felt her fingers running down her dress
and freeing the ties. She felt it sliding to the ground,
then each garment, one by one,
as her feet caressed cool moist earth.

Until she stood at the bank,
dipping her toes into sticky warmth,
watching the blood drip, and it felt good.
Oh so good, and she was running,

she was splashing, and dove headfirst into spilt life,
immersed in it, one with it, and she was swimming.
She was swimming through it to that fountain,
climbing the rocks to be washed,

to watch her body painted red again
and again within a smooth, clean sheet of blood,
that left her feeling white as snow.
She opened her mouth to drink deep,

and whispered up so inadequately, thank you.
* * *

Let's try taking the words out of the lines for a moment and just enjoy the picture...

She was swimming through it to that fountain, climbing the rocks to be washed, to watch her body painted red again and again within a smooth, clean sheet of blood, that left her feeling white as snow. She opened her mouth to drink deep, and whispered up so inadequately, thank you.

And here's what the Bible has to say about the blood of Jesus from the very poetic Message Version...

Hebrews 9:11-15

But when the Messiah arrived . . . He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.

Have you experienced the power of Christ's blood? What does the blood of Christ symbolize to you? Can you think of any more songs about this amazing symbol?


  1. "I can say what the angels cannot say; I've been redeemed by the blood of the lamb"

  2. Beautiful poem, Dina!

    I'm one of those that used to be "afraid" of poetry, partly because I had teachers who tried to tell me nothing could mean what it meant, LOL. Then in college I decided I needed to face my fear head-on, so I took what my school called a "preceptorial" class on poetry. I am SO glad I did. Not only did I gain an immense appreciation for poetry, I found some great poets and learned how to read them.

    Rousseau wrote that poetry is the beginning of all language--which I argued with while I read it. Then I paused to examine my fiction and what a made good sentence vs. a bad and discovered it WAS linked to poetry! To cadence, to the sound of the words . . .

    I love your poem about the power of the blood, since it's obviously something I've thought about in depth. =) And FYI, A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD was hugely impacted by those old hymns you mention. "Power in the Blood" was the anthem, so to speak, of my home church when I was a girl. Thanks for the mention! ;-)

  3. Loved this post! I have struggled to apply Christ's blood to metaphorical situations involving pools of water. It is my own lack of imagination, no doubt. Water to me connotates crystal clear and flowing, the consistency of...water, not...blood.

    Sigh. Definitely Christ needs to work on me here! Perhaps I should read A Stray Drop of Blood!

    The Power of Christ's blood? Only my everyday peace, joy, POWER to LIVE, thanks to the second gift of the Holy Spirit! Oh, He has redeemed me!!!

    Thought-provoking and beautifully written post!

  4. Amen, Deb. And good morning everyone.

    Wow, I woke up at 7:20 to 3 comments already posted. What's with that? Better brew some coffer.

  5. Roseanna, you know you can always count on me for a shout out. I actually wrote this shortly after you visited but decided to hold off posting it until this month with our Sing, Sing a Song week.

    Must say, though, I was pleasantly surprised to see you found it on your own. I was going to email you this morning :)

  6. Google Alerts, Dina. =) It tells me when my title appears. Though I do check in at least once a week and see what's going on in the Inkwell. ;-)

    And Patti, I totally agree that you should read A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD, lol. Not that I have a vested interest. ;-)

  7. Interesting thoughts, Patti. Obviously, this is one of my "edgier" poems.

    I think talking about "The Blood of Christ" is not very politically correct and doesn't sit well with post-modern people and vegetarians. LOL. However, if you study the Hebrew roots, you begin to understand it better. I think I really "got" it at a Messianic Jewish Passover dinner where the rabbi taught how each part of the meal foreshadowed Christ.

    I like using poetry to explore Biblical symbols, and sort of say, "What if" it wasn't just a symbol, because the truth is, it's not "just" a symbol. I think these sort of symbols represent spiritual realities that are hard to wrap our brains around.

    I also have a poem about communion and partaking of Christ's flesh and blood.

  8. By the way, Patti and everyone, did you all know that A Stray Drop of Blood was chosen as the ACFW Book Club selection for May?

    Yes, everyone should definitely read it.

  9. Beautiful images, Dina. When I think of the blood of Christ in light of your poem, I spent years dipping in one toe, one foot, afraid it wasn't really meant for me to dive in. But when I did--wow! I think that's why any song that refers to the cross always makes me cry!

  10. Thanks so much for sharing that, D'Ann. That's what a love about poetry. You just explore an idea, a picture, and everyone can take something unique from it. Your take is very beautiful and encouraging.

  11. I love how you take Christ's blood, which we've mostly reduced to symbolism, and created a literal picture through poetry. Thought provoking!

  12. Wenda, I like to say that just because something is a symbol doesn't make it less real. It makes it more real.

  13. Dina, thanks for sharing your beautiful poem with us :-)

  14. Thanks, Narelle. So is it Saturday morning on your side of the globe? Still trying to figure this out.

  15. Dina, this was so lovely and powerful. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  16. Dina,
    You are so talented. This is a very powerful poem. Christ's blood represents freedom for me. A freedom that I don't always revel in just because in my human mind it is so hard for me to conceive.

  17. Susanne, thanks and you're welcome. I'm glad everyone seemed to enjoy it. I wondered if it might be a little too "edgy."

  18. So true Jill. That's why I really like engaging my imagination to picture these sort of truths. That helps me to better understand and experience them. Worship music also helps me, as we've been discussing this month. I remember picturing being "washed in the blood" even as a child. I think it was one of my pastor's favorite songs, and we sang it a lot.

  19. Hi Dina. Thanks for explaining a little more about poetry. I'm one of those who can't write poetry, but I think it's because I don't really understand it. You write it so well. Thank you for that very powerful imagery.

  20. Suzie, I taught college English for a few years. Can you see it coming out???

  21. Dina, you don't look old enough to have taught college. However, no. You didn't come across as a college teacher here. What I did see was a lovely explanation of how poetry works. I'll probably need a few more explanations along the way, though.

  22. Suzie, when I first taught college, I was 24 years old, looked about 18, and half of my students were returning adults. It was pretty funny, but ended up working out great.


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