This month’s Poetry Prompt explores the idea of thorns.

 

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

 

Hope is Like a Harebell

by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

 

Hope is like a harebell, trembling from its birth;

Love is like a rose, the joy of all the earth.

Faith is like a lily, lifted high and white;

Love is like a lovely rose, the world’s delight.

Harebells and sweet lilies show a thornless growth,

But the rose with all its thorns excels them both.

 

Like the Apostle Paul, I have repeatedly asked God to remove the thorn of pain from my life.

 

“… so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap (thorn) to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, 

 

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.

 

My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

 

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, MSG

 

My own poem below is sharp with a thorn.

 

Don’t Call Me Courageous

 

don’t call me courageous

that title belongs to those

who make a choice

to move, or take action

brave? not me

there is nothing I have done

but breathe, or gasp

eyes briefly shut

till the worst of it

passes, dauntless? no

I have simply survived

another moment

another day

I press on, stretch slow

inquire of and lean into my Lord

my petition simple, aching

remove this thorn

or pour out more grace

as You will

that I might best serve You

 

Ideas to Spark your Poem:

 

  • Is there a thorn you can write about? Perhaps you have been hiding it. What is the shape of it? What is the feel of it?

 

  • What other things are as sharp as thorns? List them. Use them in your poem.

 

  • Think of the roses in your life. Would you forsake the roses to escape the thorns?

 

  • Let your words speak directly to the thorn. What would you ask it?

 

  • What would God say to the thorn?

 

These questions are just to get you started. Sit with the word “thorn” for a bit. Then allow your words to find their own way. Follow them. And when they find their voice, we invite you share them in the comments or submit them to: share@chronic-joy.org for possible publication.

 

Submission Guidelines

 

You can view our Submission Guidelines here. When submitting a poem, please include a scan or photo of the completed Author Release along with a headshot, brief bio, and links to your website, social media, and any book titles you’ve authored as applicable.

 

Enjoy the prompt.

 

We look forward to reading the poems that spill forth!

 

More Poetry Prompts

Introducing Poetry Co-Coordinators

Poetry allows us to explore chronic illness – the symptoms, confusion, loss, grief, and uncertainty, the moments, days, and small victories from a different perspective, to journey with words, follow where they lead, and to give voice to difficult emotions and challenging days, to touch the wellspring of our faith and discover God’s still small voice in new and deeper ways.

May – Poetry Prompt

POETRY IS AGELESS There is no age before which you must begin. Poetry is ageless, timeless, and open to all. Langston Hughes published his first major work at age 19, Emily Bronte at 29, Virginia Woolf at 33, Maya Angelou at 41, and Emily Dickinson was first published after her death. Peggy...

"There is no age before which you must begin." Cindee Snider Re

Books to Inspire

From Ashes to Glory: A Psalm A Day

Karin Fendick

Though not from a liturgical background this poet felt led to celebrate the holy through the time span from Ash Wednesday to Resurrection Sunday. From Ashes to Glory is a collection of forty-seven brief psalms written as a daily offering of worship that will encourage and draw you closer to God in any season.

The Joy of Poetry: How to Keep, Save & Make Your Life with Poems

Megan Willome

Part memoir, part humorous and poignant defense of poetry, this is a book that shows you what it is to live a life with poems at your side (and maybe in your Topo Chico®). 

Megan Willome’s story is one you won’t want to put down; meanwhile, her uncanny ability to reveal the why’s and how’s of poetry keeps calling—to even the biggest poetry doubter. If you already enjoy poetry, her story and her wisdom and her ways will invite you to go deeper, with novel ideas on how to engage with poems. 

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as “far and away, this country’s best selling poet” by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years.

 

Patient Poets: Illness from Inside Out

Marilyn Chandler Mcentyre

Readers are invited to consider what caregivers and medical professionals may learn from poetry by patients. It offers reflections on poetry as a particularly apt vehicle for articulating the often isolating experiences of pain, fatigue, changed life rhythms, altered self-understanding, embarrassment, resistance, and acceptance.

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Karin Fendick

Karin Fendick

Poet, Author, and Chronic Joy® Poetry Coordinator

Karin is a handmaiden of the Lord; saved by grace; a worshiper; a poet; a broken heart; a lover of words; hungry for truth; amazed by love; on the Potter's wheel His work in progress. After five years in Africa Karin and her beloved husband of twenty years Rick are back in rural Canada where chronic pain drives her to the feet of Jesus. She is powered by prayer, love and many cups of strong coffee. Author of From Ashes to Glory (A Psalm a Day)

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