Hi everyone,
This poem has been in the works since the mission trip I went on last year to Crisfield, Maryland to clean up from hurricane damage. It describes one of the most powerful moments for me on this trip. It was on Palm Sunday at Asbury United Methodist Church, when the entire congregation gave an overwhelming response to their pastor’s prayer request. I tried to capture that moment here.
God bless
a single prayer request echoes over
the microphone at the front of the sanctuary,
and the congregation moves.
I stare, moved without moving,
a mere visitor in the pews today
as these storm-battered people
rise from their seats and wrap around
their pastor, who gives them
direction and prayers week after week and now
stands before them speechless,
shadowed by uncontrollable
circumstance. Hands reach out
to touch him and his ailing wife in an interlocking
wall of hands on shoulders,
firm and sure as a seawall standing fast
against the hurricane. Clustered together
in matching purple and white mission trip t-shirts,
we visitors watch this cloud of witnesses live the line from the old hymn
we wear on our backs today:
When the storms of life are raging, stand by me.
Acknowledgment: Request for a “cloud of witnesses” poem from Wesley Campus Ministry bible study group at University of Delaware. Hymn reference from United Methodist Hymnal, text also available here: Tindley, Charles Albert. “512. Stand by Me.” Accessed March 21, 2014.
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Seawall by Briana Batty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Carpenter’s Hands

Hi everyone,
Happy Easter! I recently returned from a week-long mission trip to Crisfield, Maryland where I worked with a wonderful, inspired team to help with relief from Hurricane Sandy. The damage in Crisfield is extensive, but in a week we were able to make a big difference fixing homes and giving many weary people new hope to press on.
This poem is a reflection on the work we did in Crisfield and is also inspired by the sermon by Pastor Todd Hurley at Asbury United Methodist Church, where we went for Palm Sunday service. He preached about our hands and how we should think about what kind of work they ought to be doing and how often they hold the Bible to read.
The poem was also inspired by our nightly devotionals. No matter how the day at the worksites had gone, we always took the time to share how we saw God that day in each other, in our environment, or in the people we met – we never ran out of ways that we saw Him working.
God bless!

“Carpenter’s Hands”
The raging storm ebbed away
months ago now.
Down along the shore
you see
buildings missing walls, floors, windows
sitting and waiting in marshy yards
as the cold winds of March
try to rattle their last strength out of them.
     you see
     wounded homes. 
but it is not all there is to see,
     for we see with new eyes
        opened by God’s Spirit in us,
    and amidst the aftermath
we see
hands gripping hammers, saws, screwdrivers 
hands lifting walls back into place
hands pounding in nails, fitting floors,
    wiping soot-streaked walls white,
    clearing out the broken for the new
hands writing cards to those who feel forgotten
hands steadying those shaken by the storm 
hands that hold and hands that are held.
now look even closer
you will see
the touch of a gentle, wise carpenter
guiding each working hand
to build as He did.

Creative Commons License
Carpenter’s Hands by Briana Batty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.