Thursday, August 29, 2013


From chapter 11 "Wordsmithing on my summit" from book-in-progress: STILL MORE--FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT.

The parable Jesus told about the distribution of talents could have several applications. In the original economy context of that day He used the word “talent” in a monetary sense to indicate measurement of a commodity. A talent was a unit of weight equal in value to a talent-weight of gold, silver, or other metal. At that time it would not have meant a special natural ability or aptitude or marked performing skill as it is commonly thought of today. It described something tangible that a person could literally wrap in cloth and bury in the ground or do business with or invest or put in the bank. 

In any case, interest and growth of the principal was expected. The point of the parable is that we are accountable “to the Master” how we use whatever He gave us whether it be much or seemingly little. It is a matter of faithful stewardship.

In my youth and as a young Christian, I thought of the talent in Jesus' parable in the mistaken modern sense of the performing arts or skills or natural gifts. I envied some of my close friends who played the piano or other instruments, acted in dramas, had artistic gifts for painting, were skilled in handcrafting, or athletics. I thought God left me out when He distributed “talents.” I couldn't think of anything I could do or any service I could render to the Lord when I surrendered my life to follow Him completely.

I was an only child and a shy introvert who felt most comfortable while reading books. In my childhood, “Mother Goose” rhymes initiated me into the world of verse, and I tried to imitate them by making up my own rhymes. One Christmas when I was seven, an aunt gave me the thick, illustrated volume of Stevenson's “A Child's Garden of Verses.” It sparked into flame my desire to write poetry. I memorized many poems effortlessly because of their singsong format and my repeated reading. I recited poems while pumping on my rope swing under our old apple tree in the back yard. 

Without brothers and sisters for playmates, I chose books as my best friends. After I saved enough nickels and dimes to buy the paperback edition of “One Hundred and One Famous Poems,” Wordsworth, Longfellow, Byron and Dickinson became my friends. My favorite card game was “Authors.” The portraits of poets and writers and their works were pictured on the playing cards. Our local newspaper daily published Edgar Guest's whimsical poetry. I devoured his heavily rhymed books on folksy topics which I understood more easily than the more obscure themes of the classic poets.

Our family was not particularly literary or academically inclined. Neither of my parents went further than high school. They were immigrants from what is now the Czech Republic and worked hard for a living. My beloved, live-in Czech grandmother, who didn't speak a word of English, loved poetry in her own language. When I snuggled on her lap on long evenings, she read to me in her language. She taught me to recite a few traditional Czech children's poems which I still remember.

I developed a love for words and expressions and imagination and immersed myself in all kinds of literature. From early childhood my own words and stories began to pour forth, particularly in poetry which was my first love. Since I didn't know anyone else who wrote poetry, I didn't want to be teased or ridiculed for my halting efforts. I thought my classmates would call me the equivalent of a “nerd” in today's slang. I longed to meet a real live poet who wrote about ideas in my world but I didn't know where to find one.

I kept my poems secret and hid my “collected works” in a shoebox in the attic. That was my youthful version of wrapping my talent in a cloth and burying it.

When I reached my teens, I decided to burn all my poems in a ritual of relinquishment because, to my supposedly newly grown up mind, they were too juvenile. But I couldn't keep from writing poetry because it bubbled up from somewhere deep inside. I have always found it more natural to express my emotions in poetry than in prose. 
I was delighted when we started to study poetry in a high school literature class. But when my interpretation of a classic poem differed from the teacher's explanation, she told me it was “wrong” and I felt humiliated. I wondered how she could really know what the poet meant. Her remark kept me hiding my poetic efforts so that no one would criticize them. Nevertheless, I have kept releasing the poet within me for a lifetime.

Eventually I recognized my wordsmithing for what it was—the valuable treasure from God I had hidden underground like the one talent in Jesus' parable. And I hurried to invest it through faithful stewardship for a long lifetime to please the Lord who so generously gave it to me.


Leona Choy

Some paint with brush and canvas
depicting beauty seen by human eyes
others paint with notes on a staff
which become music to delight the ear
some paint with green thumbs
planting and tending seeds to harvest
in fields and gardens
for beauty and nourishment.
I paint with words.

Some paint with photo lens capturing color
some blend nature's produce to cook
gourmet food for eager palates
some paint with skillful healing hands
to restore health to broken bodies and minds
and bring color again to pallid cheeks.
I paint with words.

Some paint with hammer and nails
daubing mortar and cement
to build homes for fellow man
others paint with numbers and equations
probing and solving universal mysteries
or painting with technologies and systems
creating astounding things in cyberspace
beyond my finite comprehension.
I paint with words.

Some paint on engineering blueprints
white lines on blue backgrounds
bringing to life impressive architectural edifices
a graphic artist paints from dreams and imagination
still life or incredible animation
a sculptor paints with mallet and chisel in stone.
 I paint with words.

Each is an artist endowed by Creator God
with a portion of His creative spirit
in stewardship as a precious gift
not intended to be a secret treasure
to hide or bury unused
but to discover and invest and multiply—
and so must I
I paint with words.

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