Sonnet Sunday 23: The Dove

Image credit: Buzz

It’s after Thanksgiving… and that means I get to publish Christmas sonnets!

I actually don’t have that many, to be fair. It’s only been within the last few years that I started writing poetry that wasn’t strictly out of my emotions. But I figured I’d kick off advent with this one, and will probably publish another on Christmas Eve.

I wrote this particular sonnet last year at my pastor’s request. Well, technically, he only requested that I write some sort of advent reflection to go along with Psalm 84 and the theme of God leading us home. But this is me, so decided to sonnetize it.

As I reflected on the psalm, one of the things that struck me was the note that birds were making their nests in the temple. I’ve never studied it, so I can’t say outright that bird imagery is abundant in scripture, but there are a couple of key places where it comes up. One is in Genesis 8, when Noah sends out a dove to seek land; when she doesn’t return, he knows the waters are beginning to recede. Another is Matthew 3, when John the Baptist sees the Holy Spirit descending like a dove onto Jesus. So I liked the idea of the Holy Spirit watching over Israel all throughout its history, and wrote my sonnet from there.

The Dove

Originally published at Red Cedar Church on December 11, 2016

The dove is hovering over waters deep.
It’s looking for a place to build its nest.
First on a creaking boat, above the sheep,
It finds an empty beam to watch and rest—
Then follows them, when their ship runs aground.
It flutters, flits above the nomad flock.
It finds a tent where praises loud resound;
Then builds its nest upon the temple rock.
It rests a while, until that holy place
Is ruined, defiled, and those poor helpless lambs
Are scattered; but the dove, bursting with grace,
Longing to dwell with them in safer lands,
Lands one last time inside a brave girl’s womb,
There to be born—and then to lead us home.