I have some dear friends, John and Isobel de Gruchy. John is a South African theologian and philosopher – a well-known scholar and writer of books. Isobel is a trained botanist and poet. Recently, Isobel sent me a poem she wrote in response to a passage of mine in my latest book, Flourishing Life. On pages 21-23 of that work, I mentioned the obvious fact that we are all born with an inherited genetic script, with assets and inborn limits; we are all born into a world that affords opportunities and setbacks; and we all respond to what we have and what befalls us, creating ourselves over a lifetime of growth and change. Isobel wrote a poem about it. I have some dear friends, John and Isobel de Gruchy. John is a South African theologian and philosopher – a well-known scholar and writer of books. Isobel is a trained botanist and poet. Recently, Isobel sent me a poem she wrote in response to a passage of mine in my latest book, Flourishing Life. On pages 21-23 of that work, I mentioned the obvious fact that we are all born with an inherited genetic script, with assets and inborn limits; we are all born into a world that affords opportunities and setbacks; and we all respond to what we have and what befalls us, creating ourselves over a lifetime of growth and change. Isobel wrote a poem about it:
Life is Unfair
If life is a game of cards,
Some are dealt out aces,
Some only twos and threes.
If life is a bowl of cherries,
Some are given a plate of plump shiny fruit,
Some get handed the pips.
If life is a cruise on the ocean,
Some get passage in luxury liners,
Some in grubby little steamers that ply the coast.
If the object of life is to make something
Out of what we start with,
Life is grossly unfair.
Some can easily say “I did it my way,”
Or “I am the master of my fate.”
Some can only be glad they survived.
We still wait for God to
“Bring down the powerful from their thrones,
And lift up the lowly.”
And God still calls some out of the top of the pile.
And some from the bottom of the pit
To work God’s work and be God’s co-creators.
The Spirit still moves between and among us
To strengthen and inspire.
Like yeast in the dough.
Some find this too hard to accept,
But you can
See it,
Believe it,
Hold to it,
Take courage from it,
Trust fully in it,
And you will live triumphantly.

                — Isobel de Gruchy
 What this poem meant to me is that despite our individual differences – the different cultures and stations of life that we were born into – that through all the activities (opportunities) and passivities (losses and adaptations) of our lives, God still works through us … drawing some of us out from the “top of the pile,” and some out from the “bottom of the pit.” Nevertheless all can be and are called to God’s loving purpose – with those called from the peak of the pile having a special obligation to generosity and hospitality to those within reach and in need. (If you remember the parable of Lazarus and the rich man – the rich guy having his good things in this life, but not even seeing the begging Lazarus at his door – a troubling story indeed if you remember how it ends!)
Well at any rate, a thought-provoking poem. I give thanks for my friend’s skill in speaking what I see as truth in poetic form.