Ascend: A Poem That Will Lift You

Updated on November 22, 2019
Leland Johnson profile image

Sometimes poetry is able to capture our sentiments better than long explanations. I hope this poem reaches you in this way.

The poem “Ascend” with an artistic rendering of a leaf by artist- Sandra Koenders


The Inspiration For “Ascend”

It was a cold, blustery day, and I had just received a phone call informing me of an unanticipated debt. Not knowing how I would pay it, my mood darkened to match the weather. I sat in an alcove with a large window that looked out over an autumn forest. At that moment a powerful gust of wind came carrying with it a burst of leaves it had just torn from some native tree. They were descending, the way leaves always do, when one of them strangely lifted right before hitting the ground and it just kept rising. Up, up, up it went until it was out of sight. I perceived it as a message from God; everything was going to be all right. like the leaf, it only looked as though I was going to hit the ground.

In the Hebrew language the word “ha” (pronounced breathily, coming from the back of the throat) means breath. The words “Holy Spirit” are “Ruach-HA-chodesh.” In the book of Genesis we read that God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abra-HA-m and Sarah, actually SarHA, incorporating His “breath” as it were into their names and thus into their lives. Shortly thereafter, the breath of life being infused into their very beings, Abraham-100 years old, and Sarah- 90 years old, would have a child and name him Isaac which means “laughter.” Hard times are bound to come, but if “the breath of life” is in us, giving life to our souls, we will have joy again. We will laugh again. We will rise again.

“The breath of life” in the poem was God telling me “it’s ok, life will go on.” To my delight, it did.

I still have rough days from time to time, still get bad news just like we all do. I don’t revisit this poem every time I have a bad day, but I often remind myself of the truth it contains and, not unlike the leaf, I ascend.


I hope you enjoyed the poem as well as the video articulation. I also hope you would come to Michigan to visit the location where this video was filmed, Whiting Forest. Whiting Forest is open year round and has been connected via walking bridge to beautiful Dow Gardens.

These properties are owned by the Dow family, tremendous benefactors and patrons of Midland MI as well as innovators, inventors, and scientists. The gardens are culturally inspired by Japanese gardens observed by members of the Dow family on a visit to Japan. Their chance meeting of an Japanese agrarian landscape architect turned into a life long friend ship that would influence the creation of Dow Gardens and impact generations to come. The properties are a photographer’s delight and a dream come true for nature lovers and strollers. The properties were linked by a walking bridge in 2017 and provide many hours of walking and exploring paved wood chip strewn paths.

May the good Lord bless your travels!


Dow Gardens in Midland MI

Photos of Whiting Forest in Autumn

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Photos of Dow Gardens in Autumn

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Leland Johnson


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      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        3 months ago from Midland MI

        Elijah, Thank you for reading and for the kind words. Sometimes God delays things for when we need to hear it. He knows :)

      • NatureBoy0 profile image

        Elijah A Alexander Jr 

        4 months ago from Washington, DC USA

        Thank you, Leland, for a very inspirational poem I almost ignored. Although the notice of it has been in my mailbox since November 9th, and I had not looked at it until today seems to have sent a message to me in a time I could use one. Again, I thank you for submitting it for our encouragement.

        Elijah NatureBoy

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Linda- I appreciate your comments and I’m so glad you liked the poem and pics! It was really fun putting it all together.

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Brenda- thanks for all your keen observations. I’m so glad you liked it!

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Thank you Paula! I’m trying some new things with audio visual equipment so I really appreciate the feedback!

      • fpherj48 profile image


        4 months ago from UpstateWestern,New York

        Leland.......Kudos! This is exquisite. Love the breathtaking photos and your voice-over of the lovely poem, is meticulous! Bravo!!! Paula

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Ms Dora- thank you for reading the poem and watching the vid. I’m glad you liked the voiceover as I am working on becoming a narrator for audio books and thought I would practice with some of my work before venturing into overdubbing the work of others. I’m certain you picked up on the underlying references to faith in this poem. God bless you Ms. Dora!

      • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        John- thanks so much for reading and commenting. I wrote the poem a couple years ago but some new video equipment made me think I could present it in a new, fresh way blessings

      • Brenda Arledge profile image


        4 months ago from Washington Court House

        I loved this presentation. The video is awesome.

        The accompanying pictures, even the squirrel is so delightful.

        The colors are brilliant.

        The poem itself is great reminding us not to be afraid to do something which is different.

        Great write. I truly enjoyed this one.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        The different components of this article go together very well, Leland. The poem is excellent and the photos are lovely.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        I've experienced the beautiful colors of fall in Michigan. Awesome!

        The poem is exceptional. You brought a universal empowering message from an everyday occurrence. Admirable! The video and the appealing voice are wonderful bonuses.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        4 months ago from Queensland Australia

        Leland, this is a lovely poem. I enjoyed the video articulation and the photos of this beautiful place are simply stunning. I can see how you were inspired.


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