Emilie Griffin's volume, Goodbye Birds and Other Poems (2014), is an authentic witness to an exuberant faith lived deeply and well. The themes and metaphors are far ranging and relevant.
For example, the book's namesake, Goodbye Birds, is a comment on the ecological disaster of the "deep petroleum roar," while The Loss of Monarchs and other Puzzlements, refers to global warming affecting all living things: "Across the blue world, summer extends."
|...poetry that is kind and truthful|
But the little, powerful volume is also the fruit of life-long reflective and lived faith in Christ. As an octogenarian and one who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Griffin patiently, courageously, makes her way on walker up to the front of the room to speak about her life and writing. Griffin has earned that right to speak of aging, God, and spirituality. But it's also her gift:
This is what you may call if you like to give names to things a spirituality of rheumatoid arthritis:the human spirit, fueled by grace rising up joyfully from the chair to say, Oh yes, I did have a headache,
I was a bit unwell today
but I am well in the grace of God
Well enough to withstand whatever the universe is dishing up today and well enough to ask hard questions
not to mention well enough to hold my Bible in my lap
until the day of Resurrection. (from The Middle Step)
Then, along with the playful Pope In, Pope Out- Hawking, Get Used To It, brings a smile:
Something flung wonder
from NO to Where.
I say he is Someone
and has a name.
The native Louisianan (see Louisiana: Three Recollections) and well read in the classics, she writes nimbly and triumphantly of spring and the first Wisteria in the back garden and offering a wonderful metaphor for God-presence:
Christ walks here
in light that bleeds
through shards of memory
Wisdom hard won, faith clung to, and in the end, as with many of these poems, a note of victory. There's this example from Loss of Monarchs: "Yet over the wounded planet mercy prevails. God sovereignty permits, denies, keeps this, not that. Meantime grace blankets us from pole to pole."
Emilie Griffins other books include Small Surrenders: A Lenten Journey, and Green Leaves for Later Years, both available on her Goodreads page.