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Ascend: A Poem That Will Lift You

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

© 2019 Leland Johnson

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