Andrew Bennett, Professor of English at the University of Bristol, said, “The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.”
This saying expresses the essence behind the inspiration of the book of poems entitled Pilgrimage Poems by Randy Stoltz. These poems journal his journey homeward to the wide-open, immense love of God. God stirs longings for love and then pours this love into hungry hearts by the Holy Spirit to satisfy these desires (Romans 5:5).
Pilgrimage Poems invites readers to leave their “Tiny Huts” ( pg.1), which they have cobbled together for survival but now prevent growth. The invitation is to “Come for a Walk” (pg. 3) out on a pilgrimage towards a destination of grand nature vistas that whisper elegantly to the souls of women and men of the presence of eternity and a welcoming, loving God.
In the poem “Snakes and God” (pg.16), the same theme of leaving the old for the new is used, only this time, the metaphor employed is the necessity of snakes shedding their old, smaller skins so they can grow, “Snakes and God wonder when we too will shed our small skins and enjoy being larger.”
Stoltz states in the intro of his previous scant awareness that “God being out there somewhere, separate from himself, an object to be watched or studied, is the root of many of his problems. This rational, mental approach to spirituality, he states, is a major deficiency in current western thought and a large contributor to his spiritual blindness and many years of anxiety and a sense of separation. This very paradox is explored in the poem “Objects Apart?” (pg.8).
“I know there are objects, some far and some near, and from our perspective, we are separate, it appears, but microscopes and science, when they measured the small, discovered matter, isn’t” t like that at all.” This kind of mere objective living is what the poet terms “Living Like Madmen” (Pg.17) and his reason for losing sight of an omnipresent God in “God Was Gone” (pg.18).
Each poem is written on a beautiful picture background, illustrating the central insights of the poem. In “Ordinary Days” (pg. 34), the author selected a safari scene at sunset with a soft orange sky and a rich African savannah backdrop. “There’s rareness in the ordinary, but we seek to get away, not seeing what we’re given, we crave another day, one we esteem that’s better, for the adventures that we long…we miss the treasures in today, to which the ordinary belongs.” In the safari foreground, a lone individual scans the horizon from a vehicle searching for wildlife. It is an excellent metaphor for the search for spirituality amidst all things mundane in day-to-day living. This meager awareness obstructs a more profound, rich understanding of God.
Pilgrimage Poems is a beautiful book to behold. The poems are easy to read, the pictures captivating, and they ignite their messages for comprehension. They delightfully stir the heart with joy and a greater desire to experience the love of a God who is always there waiting each moment to interact with us! One Amazon reviewer called Pilgrimage Poems “A beautiful collection of poems that dance in your heart and awaken your soul.”
I was inspired to look deeper for God’s love and presence “in my ordinary days” as well! You will also be!
Pilgrimage Poems is available in paperback, e-book, and audible format.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Randy holds a B.A. in Biblical studies, with a minor in Biblical languages, and has over 25 years of active involvement in church communities across Southern California and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Throughout his journey, Randy has faced a persistent challenge—how to balance his love and service to God with the demands of his job and the complex dynamics of personal relationships. To overcome these obstacles, Randy turned to contemplative prayer in recent years. This practice has enabled him to navigate life’s stresses more effectively and deepen his experience of God’s love and presence. Today, Randy and his wife reside in Salem and are proud parents to six adult children.
“A great collection of Poems that speak to your Heart and the Heart of God.”
— Amazon Reader’s Review
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