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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The idyllic town of Lowell...

I live in a quaint town. I would even go so far as to say idyllic, and I don't just use that word flippantly. Granted, it's not the Shire or Yosemite, but it does rustle with something of an antiquity. It's an old logging town from the 1800's with converging rivers...the Grand and the Flat. Whoever settled here decided to build the town atop the two rivers. The downtown is literally built over the river with buildings perched up on treated lumber like the kind you see in summer homes on some exotic beach in the Florida keys.

Other buildings are set on cement pillars and walls that are drilled down deep through the mucky river's bottom and into the earth that lies beneath the water's current. Old brick buildings line Main St. each bearing the touch of a mason's hand. The hand hewn molding speaks of good ole' fashioned craftsmanship. The windows are tall and the glass antique looking. It's a window shoppers heaven.

Old street lanterns line the sidewalks in the historic district and at night it looks every bit as glorious as a Thomas Kinkade painting, glowing with the softened hues of something nostalgic. The Flat River is a shallow, slow-moving river teeming with wildlife. Swan families elegantly float back and forth from shore to shore, ducks fly in formation landing with furry and beauty, turtles sunbathe on protruding rocks and driftwood, fisherman stand along the river's edge fishing for pan fish with little red and white bobbers twitching with every nibble.

Along the shore there sits an old retired Showboat. It speaks of a rich history of shoreline concerts and family riverboat escapades upstream. I've seen old pictures, and when this double-decked monolithic beast moved across the water with hundreds of families smiling in delight, it glowed with glory. And yet, even docked along the shore, it still speaks with majesty of an era that was simple and pure. Sometimes I just stop and look at it letting its history fill my veins with the oxygen of yesteryear.

Among the tallest buildings in our little agrarian town are the grain silos of King Milling. It is a business that provides flour for a lot of the cereals you eat for breakfast in the morning. The hum of industrial equipment fills the air, and not the kind of noise pollution you constantly hear in Los Angeles; it's a hum that reminds you that people have jobs to provide for their families, a hum that speaks of the middle class gutting it out for a decent wage, a hum that made America great before our jobs were shipped overseas. There is something heart-warming about coming home from a trip and seeing the towering silos of King Milling welcoming you back to Lowell.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in the historic district that has served as my solace and office for nearly 7 years now. The people that frequent this place come here looking for the warmth of a good cup of joe, yes, but they are pining for so much more than that. They are looking to brush up against the angel wings of community. They want to be said hi to. They want to be seen and acknowledged. They want to flee the rugged individualism and independence of the postmodern age and return to the roots of relationship. A smile, a nod, a wink. Anything that means you're interacting and interfacing with humanity. This "third space" is where I find my bearings, my center on most days. The muffled mutterings of conversations happening around me, the soft singer/songwriting music filling the room, the sound of coffee machines pressing out brew, the smell of fresh baked muffins, the soft lighting that speaks of simplicity and serenity...these are "a few of my favorite things".

In the spring/summer I enjoy kayaking from White's Bridge (covered bridge) to Fallasburg's Bridge (another covered bridge) taking in the beauty of the winding river and the best of nature's surprising wonders. Bald eagles nest atop tree, Great Blue Herons fly downstream with me as I push them along from one bend of the river to the next, baby fawns drink from stirring eddies and they are so tame you can about float up to them and pet them on the head. Fish dart back and forth under you exposed by the sideways sunlight, flocks of Mallard ducks and Canadian geese nest along the edges leading their young from the safety of the shore into the adventure of the current. They are carried along like little puffs of cotton.

Hardwood trees of every species provide a canopy of comfort over the rushing river, an umbrella of sprawling branches. Occasionally, you will see a huge oak tree fallen over the river due to the water slowly eating away the dirt from its tangled roots. Felling an oak is not the easiest of feats, but water is a patient warrior. I love taking my watercraft through the branches of the fallen tree that acts as a labyrinth--like a corn maze at Halloween. The therapy of a day of kayaking is unparalleled.

In the summer our family will park downtown, buy a loaf of bread from the local butcher's shop, and head down to the shoreline to feed the hundreds of desperate looking ducks. Sometimes we'll buy some homemade salty beef jerky to gnaw on while we fill the bloating bellies of those ducks. Watching the ducks fly in from all sides brings a smile to my face. I know that when they are quacking with frenzied excitement as we're feeding them they are yelling out some sort of signal to surrounding waterfowl. I imagine them screaming, "Everybody, get over here, some stupid humans are feeding us bread again!" And they come with abandon.

Ahhh, yes. These reasons and many more make my life in this bedroom community a pleasure of the highest order. I thank God all the time for bringing me to such a splendid location to live my life for his glory. It makes it so much easier to live for His glory when your live smack dab in the middle of it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Laughter in the back seat...

I took my daughters on a daddy date last night.

As I was driving along, they were all laughing in the back seat with these "shot-gun" giggles that only a little girl can produce. These gut laughs come from such a deep place of innocence, a life unencumbered with the mounting pressures of adulthood.

As an adult, I was sitting in the driver's seat jealously listening to their mirth. My chest was tight with the deadlines and the bottom lines and the front lines of ministry. I was churning with the weight of the world. They were back there living in the moment as if yesterday and tomorrow didn't even exist.

The purity of passion that spills out of them washes me like a shower on some days. They were making up funny voices and watching each other make funny faces. They would go back and forth performing their impromptu comedic acts. And with each melodrama, they would "bust a gut" in laughter that would fill my car with "Monster's Inc"-like electricity. Every giggle was worth 10 screams. The power was intoxicating.

I hate being in the drivers seat on some days. Hands clinched to the steering wheel guided by lines and lights, signs and streets. Looking in mirrors to see what's behind me and out windshields to see what's in front of me. I'm in the same car, but my mind isn't in the car...it's behind and ahead, but not in.

I have to think about getting somewhere. They are thinking about being here.

Their laughter and girlish games filled that car with life. The back seat was the place to be. I was in the front seat, the driver's seat, wishing for the back seat again. A time and place where life was simple and pure and true. A time when the only exhaustion you felt at bedtime was caused by hours of incessant laughter and endless playing.

I am forgetting how to play. For all that I'm learning, I'm forgetting essential ingredients of life along the way.

I'm gaining truth and losing meaning.

Lord, I want to get in the back seat again. You take the driver's seat, Lord. I want to sit behind you and laugh under your leadership.

(I just resisted writing the worn out phrase, "Jesus, take the wheel.")

Monday, February 21, 2011

Song of Solomon rendering - Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Lover

1 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves

Man

I can’t take my eyes off of you, my beautiful bride to be! I can’t stop saying it: ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!” Your eyes remind me of the morning doves, pure and white and faithful.

Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead.

When you let your hair down I get weak in the knees. It lies upon the contours of your body, as I will in days to come, covering your silky skin.

2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone.

When you smile, I think of your mouth and the kisses we’ve shared. The glow of your teeth keep teasing me, tempting me to touch them with my tongue.

3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.

I could think about your lips all day long. When you move them, purse them, or lick them, I’m reduced to a curious pubescent boy, entranced and dumbfounded. The taste of your lips is like the sweet nectar of a day lily. Your face shines as you stare into my eyes.

4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors.

I can’t help but moving down your body with my eyes. Your neck is soft and sleek to the touch. I love to stroke your skin with the tips of my fingers breathing down your neckline while taking in your body’s scent.

5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies.

As much I try to hide it, I’m sure you can see me staring at your breasts. I can’t even fake modesty when I’m around you, your body is irresistible and your breasts are divine.

6 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense.

When I have a chance to have my way with you, I will climb those majestic mountains and play upon them until the dawn. All night long we will play together exploring each other’s bodies enjoying the adventures of erotic discovery.

7 All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

No matter how much you hate certain parts of your body, I see no flaw in you, my picturesque princess. To me, you are perfect in every way. I am captured by your love.

8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards.

Come away with me, my bride! Leave your father and mother, your lands and your friends and make life with me, make love with me.

9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart 
with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.

You have stolen my soul, and I have let you. You have taken my heart hostage with one glance of your eyes. Does it please you to know you have this kind of power over me?

10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!

I have experienced a lot of wonderful things, tantalizing things. But none compare to the rapture of your love for me! They don’t even come close. There isn’t a wine more intoxicating than you! There isn’t a sight, sound, or smell that rivals your ability to awaken my senses, my sensuality.

11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like that of Lebanon.

I know I’ve already told you this, but your lips drip with sweetness like honey from a honeycomb. When we kiss, I can taste the sweetness that lies beneath your tongue and it undoes me every single time. Even the clothes that lace your naked body send forth an aroma that spellbinds me.

12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.

It kills me that we are still not married. I know that it won’t be long, but even one more moment away from your naked body is unbearable to me. It’s like I can peek through the window, but the door is still locked. I can see the succulent garden through the fencerow, but the gate is fastened shut. This teasing is starting to wear me out!

13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, 14 nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spice.

I can’t stop thinking about your body, even if I can only enjoy it from a distance for the time being. You are the finest of wine, the choicest of spice, the best this world has to offer in every way. To what can I compare you, my crowned jewel, my bejeweled crown?

15 You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon.

You are a fountain of refreshment. All that pours forth from your being is fed by a deep spring within. Everything I enjoy on the outside, and that I’ve spoken of so freely to you, comes from something deep and rich and full on the inside. That’s what I love about you the most. Your beauty is not just skin deep, it is deep.

Beloved

16 Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! 
Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. 
Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.

Woman

Say no more, my lusty stallion, for it is time to awaken love and set the night to music. All that I am I give to you alone, and all of my body is yours for the taking. Come into me. Into my body…into my heart. Make love to me, my love.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

depression...it's a slippery bar of soap.

I think I’ve been battling a form of depression recently.

Depression takes on so many forms that I’m not sure which form I have. There is debilitating and destructive depression…I don’t have that. I would say mine would be something like distractive and disturbing depression. It’s the kind that causes you to zone out on the couch or drift off in a conversation. I feel like my brain is having a traffic jam. I feel like my sternum has a lead brick resting on it. I feel like I’m watching myself live from the corner of my living room, the back right hand corner where the walls meet the ceiling.

I feel like I’m running in my sleep frantically trying to catch up to something all the while running away from something else.

Here’s an example. This morning, I woke up in a panic and went downstairs to sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t wake up Heidi. As I laid there in the dark, I was getting all flustered about a funeral that someone wanted me to do. (Mind you, I don’t even have a funeral coming up; my brain was just making up this scenario.) Even though I knew this, I couldn’t stop my mind from fabricating a fictitious (as opposed to factitious) world of nonsense.

As I fought off this alternative storyline, I labored to rest. I was trying to talk myself into relaxation so that my body could bed down. To no avail. I wrestled with funeral plans and angry family members and forgotten details and confused pastoral protocol for a couple hours until my daughter came downstairs to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I gave her a kiss and went upstairs to try and catch some shut-eye before the day abruptly began.

The difficult part is that I’m so happy with so many aspects of my life right now. I will be having a great day and for no apparent reason my stomach will feel ulcer-infested, like large tics are burrowing into the walls of my intestines and laying eggs of angst and discontent. On the one hand, I will be cheerier than a church mouse and on the other my stomach will be knotted up like last years Christmas lights.

The expression finally makes sense: “Part of me feels…and part of me feels…” Fill in the blank. I can relate to that so much lately. Part of me is living in the best season of my life and part of my feels like I may pass away in my sleep from a heart attack. Part of me is full of love, joy and peace; and part of me if full of dread, worry and sadness. Part of me is living high on the hog; part of me is living down in the dumps. Can you relate?

So as I sit here in want of words that speak in defense of my heart, I have to wonder if this is the part of life that is very clearly East of Eden and West of Heaven. The Borderland, so to speak. The place between, the straight betwixt two as Paul spoke of it in Philippians 1. It makes me yearn for glory. For lasting and everlasting redemption. For abiding and supernal joy.

My God, how I long for You! My soul longs to attach to you, my faith yearns for sight. My eyes are open in the dark; I’m not blind, but I can’t see. I want to shed this scaly skin of mortality and clothe myself with the robes of righteousness, rightness.

But for now, until then…I feel this pit in my stomach aching for God-only-knows-what.

I believe, but help my unbelief.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Song of Solomon rendering - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

1 All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him.

Through the watches of the night I think about you and sometimes I get scared that you will leave me. So I wake up and in my mind I run after you in a panic wondering if you’ll find that I’m too much work.

2 I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.

One time I woke in a cold sweat, to the degree that I got out of bed and went in search for you. It’s like I sent out a search party in my head wondering if your love was steadfast and true. It’s hard to describe the fear that griped my heart.

I hear the cruelest things in my head when I’m needy. “He’s long gone.” “He’s found someone else that is less work.” “You are high maintenance, woman, even you know that.” I kept looking frantically for you, but alas, you were nowhere to be found confirming my suspicions to be, in fact, true.

3 The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. 
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”

Others who I had employed to keep an eye out for you joined me in my misery. They were like watchmen on the walls looking for trouble. They got in on the drama with me as I redundantly asked, “Have you seen the one my heart loves?” They shook their heads commiserating with my hardening beliefs.

4 Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. 
I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.

But just about when I had given over to the idea that I was left alone, that you had found something or someone other than me, better than me, my eye caught you walking my way. At first I thought I’d made it up, projecting my fantasy on reality. But it wasn’t fiction, a dreamy, steamy love novel; it was real! And the thing that blew me away was how calm you were and all at the same time how unnerved I was.

“Where have you been?” I screamed in desperation. “I’ve been right here. I haven’t gone anywhere.” I broke down in fatigue. I held onto him so tight that he said, “Hey, why are you shaking, why so scared?” I couldn’t even answer you; I just clung to you like my life depended on it, depended on you. In time I relaxed and showered you with kisses while leading you to my mom’s house. I was so caught up in the moment of ecstasy that I drug you up to my mother’s bedroom. I looked at you and said, “This is where my mother conceived me. As was done to her, do unto me.”

5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: 
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

But again, I heard my father’s voice shout with that deep baritone quality, “Don’t wake up your lust before you tie the knot, kiddo. Remember, there’s nothing like waiting until your wedding night to enjoy the delicacies of sexual pleasure.” Sometimes I hate that my dad still holds such power over my pleasures. But he does…thankfully. I would have made a mess of my life a long time ago without his guiding conscience.

6 Who is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?

My mind muses again with the daydreams of a pining princess: “I see pillars of dust in the distant desert flatland, like the smoke of a fall campfire. Who is this that advances toward me so swiftly?

7 Look! It is Solomon’s carriage, escorted by sixty warriors, the noblest of Israel,

Oh my word, it’s my man accompanied by his band of brothers, some the most noble and honorable men I know.

8 all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword at his side, prepared for the terrors of the night.

They all are trained in the art of war, skilled with their swords. They fear nothing, not even the worst the enemy could unleash.

9 King Solomon made for himself the carriage; he made it of wood from Lebanon.

My lover has hand-hewn the chariot in which he stands tall and strong. I can tell that he poured his heart and soul into building it. His fingerprints are all over it.

10 Its posts he made of silver, its base of gold. 
Its seat was upholstered with purple, its interior lovingly inlaid by the daughters of Jerusalem.

Every part of chariot has been a labor of love meticulously pieced together, not a splinter out of place. Just to look at it from a distance arouses a sense of awe.”

11 Come out, you daughters of Zion, and look at King Solomon wearing the crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.

I call my friends to my side to look upon my knight in shining armor. I love bragging about him to them, they probably get sick of it but I can’t help it. I’m bewitched body and soul by him. He is wearing a King’s crown bestowed by his very mother. It has been placed upon his head in expectation of our wedding, the day where our hearts shall melt together as one. Oh, how I wish this were more than a daydream!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Song of Solomon rendering - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Beloved

1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

Woman

Even though I wrestle with my worth, I know that I am a cherished rose, a flower among flowers that is tender to the touch and in need of deliberate and delicate treatment.

Lover

2 Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.

Man

I have been taught by my father to view you as such, but I’m not so na├»ve to think that thorns don’t surround your beauty. I can see how you standout among your peers, but thorns accompany them as well; they are easy to see. I want to protect your silky pedals from the thorns that would undo you should you be left alone to your own devices.

Beloved

3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. 
I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

Woman

You are outstanding among your peers, my handsome man! You cast a long shadow as you stand among them rendering them unseen; out of sight, out of mind. I love sitting in the shade of your strength, the fruit of your integrity falls about me and I eat of its sweetness, thank you for putting yourself to the test down through the years; your character is stout because of this self-leadership.

4 He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

I love being your princess and going out with you in the presence of others. It’s like there is this banner over us that says, “She is mine, so keep your hands and eyes off of her.” That makes me feel wanted, safe in your jealous love.

5 Strengthen me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. 


Our conversations feed me; you know how to speak into my deep heart unlike so many men I’ve met along the way. I leave our times together refreshed and impassioned. I always have to be careful when I’m around you, because I start feeling faint and out of control, like I could lose my wits and fall for anything you would offer me. I’m not used to feeling so taken by my passions.

6 His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.

When we are kissing in the meadow, there is nothing like feeling your hand behind my head as you gently tip me over and caress my body with your other hand. It makes me feel a rush of excitement that borders on naughty, if that makes any sense. I’ve always dreamed of being held by a strong man.

7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

But the thing that keeps me from going all the way with you in those moments of passion is what my father used to say: “Honey, there is a time and a place for sexual passion and it is marriage. Do not flirt with disaster by waking it up before you say your vows and cutting that divine covenant.” It’s so hard, because I’m aroused and ready to offer myself to you, but I can’t get my father’s refrain out of my head when things are getting steamy between us.

8 Listen! My lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.

When I’m with you, sometimes I daydream: I can hear the hoofs of a horse barreling over the hill toward my bedchamber. I know you’re coming for me. Pursuing me with fierce affection. My heart seizes with deep joy.

9 My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice

You are, to me, a buck in rut at times. You can’t think of anything else but me. I can’t say as I mind this unadulterated fondness you have for me. Sometimes I even catch you looking at me through a crowd of people or a threshold between rooms; you really are love-struck, aren’t you?

10 My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. 11 See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 
12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, 
the cooing of doves is heard in our land. 
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. 
Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

When I imagine you speaking to me, I dream of you saying something like, ‘Arise, my love, my ravishing and irresistible one, and come away with me and only me. The long season of guarding our purity is over, that cold winter of abstinence that kept our love frozen in place. Spring is in the air, the land is thawing and flowers are pressing through the warming earth. Just as seeds are bursting out of their shell that has contained them, it is time to let our love blossom without restriction. Arise, come away with me and let us enjoy the freedom of each other’s boundless love. I have been waiting my whole life to share myself with you.”

Lover

14 My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.

Man

I can’t handle your daydreams, they make me sweat with hot-blooded passion. However, I’m very much aware that when that day comes, you will still hide in insecurity, like a dove backed in between the rocks protecting itself from a faceless perpetrator. I’ve come toward you like you’ve described before and I’ve seen you hide your face, turning from my love. Will you do this when I come for you? Will you always run from my love? Listen to me! I love to hear you express your thoughts and ideas and dreams, don’t silence yourself because you think you’re stupid. Show me that gorgeous face that holds me hostage; don’t hide behind another self-inflicted veil. I want to see you, through and through. Please believe me when I say your voice and face have no price tag.

15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes 
that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

It’s curious really, but it seems like just when things couldn’t be any better, you get scared and something attacks our relationship. It’s almost like little foxes burrow holes under the vines of our love killing the roots slowly causing the fruit to shrivel and fall off the vines before harvest time. Don’t you feel like that sometimes, like an outside force is seeking to tear us apart from each other, creating division and confusion between us? I won’t let this happen, but you have to help me. We have too much good between us to let stupid issues get the best of us. I will fight off these demons if it costs me my life.

Beloved

16 My lover is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. 17 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills.

Woman

When you talk like that, I feel so protected. It’s like my heart rests secure and all I hear inside my head is “I am his and he is mine”. So keep fighting until every shadow flees and the night is broken by the breaking of the dawn. Never stop turning toward the darkness to fight off the fiery darts of the foe. Be that stag on the side of the mountain that fights off every other male vying for preeminence in this territory, every other dark presence that would seek to prey on my heart and the heart of our relationship. Be the king of the mountain, I will cheer you on from the bottom of the hill saying, “That’s my man. He never backs down. He never gives up. He fights to the death for my heart. I am his and he is mine.”

Friday, February 04, 2011

Song of Solomon rendering - Chapter 1

For the next 8 episodes I will be posting an interpretive rendering of the Song of Solomon in my own words. I have always loved this book (especially when I was a 12 yr. old sitting bored in my childhood Baptist Church on Sunday morning).

After studying it a bunch lately, I honestly can't believe it's in the Bible. I mean, I can and I can't all at the same time. I just shows you how dialed in to our desires God really is. Sometimes I think we think sexuality is off the God-grid, but this couldn't be further from the truth.

I hope this paraphrased version of this erotic book of the Bible will enhance your view of sexuality and spirituality.

The format emphasizes the Scripture first in the New International Version and then underneath it, I translate it into my own words. Just know, God's Word is infallible and my words are, shall I say, fallible. But I think a lot about this book gets missed because of the poetic writing style. I wanted to loosen it up a bit for easier digestion. Enjoy!

Let's start with Chapter 1
_________________________

Chapter 1

1 Solomon’s Song of Songs.

Personal Song of Songs.

Beloved

2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.

Woman

Keep kissing me, your mouth is delicious—it’s a taste that rivals wine, intoxicating me.

3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!

The smell of you brings me pleasure; your skin has a unique fragrance that stops me dead in my tracks. But it’s your name, your inside, that is most pungent to me. No wonder women are drawn to you, panting for your attention.

4 Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Wisk me away with you—I can hardly wait to be swept up into your adventure. More than anything I can’t wait to get into a bedroom and, well, you know.

Friends

We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine.

Friends

We look up to you and respect your way of life; we talk about your relationship and liken it to aged wine, fragrant and smooth.

Beloved

How right they are to adore you!

Woman

I don’t blame everyone for making a big deal about you!

5 Dark am I, yet lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon.

I know I’m not like the airbrushed cover girls, but there is more to me than meets the naked eye, ladies. I’ve been wounded along the way; life has taken its toll.

6 Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun.

I get self-conscious sometimes when people stare at me because I am consumed with the thought that I don’t measure up to the unspoken standard of beauty that’s out there.

My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected.

I’ve suffered many wounds at the hands of my family along the way that have shaped my heart, sculpting my psyche in such a way that I hesitate when I walk, reluctant to assume an identity, especially if it seems too good to be true. I fear that as I’ve become what others infer I am, I’ve neglected myself along the way, almost embarrassed to speak kindly of my own heart.

7 Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. 
Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?

Someone talk to me about me. Why should I always fall short of the glory I long for? Why do I always feel inferior to those I stand side by side with? Are they any better than me? Then why do I feel that they live with a freedom and beauty I don’t possess? I veil myself to protect myself from any further hurt. I have a hard time with my naked self. I’m bashful to be seen in all my glory.

Friends

8 If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.

Friends

If you’re questioning your place in this world, beautiful as you are, move toward a relationship to see if you have what it takes, to see what glory exists under your veil. Don’t be shy to put yourself out there for pursuit. You’ll be surprised what a catch you are.

Lover

9 I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh.

Man

Darling of darlings, to me you are like a mare prancing delicately in front of royalty, pulling along the chariot with a strength rivaled only by your loveliness.

10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.

Your face shines in between your earrings, your neck glistens inviting a lip’s kiss.

11 We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver.

I feel like going out and buying you jewelry to adorn what is already adoring.

Beloved

12 While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance.

Woman

Whenever I sit across the table from “the king”, I want him to smell me, see me. I want my vibes to meet his nostrils, his eyes.

13 My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts. 


My love--this one across the table--is like the locket that hangs between my breasts, close to my heart. I feel it beat faster and faster as he presses in closer to me.

14 My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.

He is like a bouquet of flowering blossoms from a vineyard, beautiful and sweet; his scent sets my heart to dancing.

Lover

15 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.

Man

You are beauty embodied, my jewel! More beautiful than words could ever express and paint into pictures! But the thing that I can’t stop thinking about and looking at are those eyes of yours. They put me into a trance, spellbound.

Beloved

16 How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.

Woman

You may think I’m to die for, but you are more dashing to me than any other man I’ve laid eyes on, baby! And it’s funny that you’re thinking about my eyes, because I can’t stop thinking about getting you in bed with me and setting the night to music.

Lover

17 The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs.

Man

When you talk of our bedroom it makes me wonder about where we will live and what kind of house I should build for you, for us. I’m going to take care of you, my beloved. Don’t ever forget that.