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POETRY by J. Barrie Shepherd and Hans Ostrom

By February 15, 2004 No Comments
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I have a hunch that much of faith
is formed in looking backward,
taking stock, reflecting on
what has been, and what might have been.
Most of the time, you see,
we’re far too close to things
to view them properly.
The hassle hustle of the everyday
can blind us to what’s really going on,
obscure for us the chasms and the pinnacles
that mark the landscape of our living.
It’s only when, and if, we take the time
to glance across the shoulder and reflect,
to pause and ponder where we are
and how we got here, that we can trace
the constant presence of a mystery
that blesses as it wounds,
that turns us inside out and upside down,
that leads us, by a path we did not choose,
toward a hope we hardly know we had,
a trust that yet endures, despite so much,
a strange familiar grace that touches
everything we touch with promise.
I’ll even bet old stammering Moses
leading his motley crew across that gap
between the waves, had no time to inquire about
who put it there. He just saw a chance
and grabbed it with both hands. Then later,
on the other bank, or deep into the wilderness,
he realized, “So that’s what God
was up to all the time!”

–J. Barrie Shepherd


My soul, in search of skylights,
Climbed flights of stairs,
Hit its head on attic beams,
Fell over cast-off chairs.

It went back down to rooms
Of routine, fearful days,
Persistent anxious nights,
And weary, wearing ways–

Went further–to a basement,
To be desperate and low,
Stumbled there on blueprints
For skylights, what do you know?

–Hans Ostrom


The Rev. Dr. J. Barrie Shepherd is a retired Presbyterian minister whose last eight years of ministry were at First Presbyterian Church in New York City. He has written extensively in the area of religious studies, has lectured and preached widely in America and abroad, and has published over five-hundred poems in a variety of publication, including Perspectives.


Hans Ostrom’s poetry has appeared in a variety of national magazines. His recent chapbook is Subjects Apprehended. He is the author of A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia, and is co-editing with James Herrick a new book in the field of composition studies, The Subject is Story.