Between sobs, I managed to say, “I just want to hug him and tell him that Jesus is coming!” I had a tiny glimpse into what Adam felt as he looked back upon his life and his relationship with the Lord, and I didn’t know poetry could do that.
Lindsey Lundin is a middle school English teacher, poet, and one of the Lead Editors for Story Team. Lindsey and her husband Brian lead the Story Team writers. In the fall of 2014, Lindsey was asked to write and perform an original poem for Advent at The Austin Stone. Lindsey sat down with Story Team and answered a few questions about her experience.
Story Team: Did you feel any pressure working on a poem that you would later read on camera?
Lindsey Lundin: To be honest, the pressure I felt didn’t have anything to do with reading my work.
We had these three amazing poems from John Piper that we were using for Advent, and they contained vivid imagery and rich language. Two of them moved me to tears upon reading. And here I was—novice poet girl—assigned with writing a poem to be read alongside these others. All I could think was that mine would stand out like a sore thumb. But this pressure was ultimately a good thing, because it spurred me to analyze and meditate on Piper’s poems for quite some time before picking up a pen to begin mine.
Did you learn anything new about poetry in the process of writing and performing this piece?
I did! In writing this poem, I dove deep into the life of Adam, which wasn’t anything I’d ever given real thought to. I studied Genesis, commentaries, sermons, and other scripture references. I wanted to get into his head. And it worked…
At one point in the process, my husband cam downstairs to find me sitting on the couch sobbing uncontrollably. He ran over and put his arms around me. Between sobs, I managed to say, “I just want to hug him and tell him that Jesus is coming!” I had a tiny glimpse into what Adam felt as he looked back upon his life and his relationship with the Lord, and I didn’t know poetry could do that.
Still, to this day, any mention of Adam sends me back into the headspace of writing the poem. I feel connected to him in this strange way, and I’m not kidding when I say that I can’t wait to hug his neck one day!
Did you have any moments of panic? How did you work through them and complete the project?
The moment of panic on this one was when I knew the poem had gone to Halim Suh, who was preaching the sermon that was coupled with the poem, for review. Halim is crazy-smart and knows his theology, and I was panicked that I was accidentally heretical somewhere in the poem and Halim would call me out on it.
But the panic was my own crazy anxiety running amuck. Worst-case scenario would be that I would need to revise it—not that I would be publicly shamed or kicked out of my church—and my very calm and rational husband was the one to point this out to me and talk me off the ledge.
What was the revision process like? How many different people read the poem during revisions?
As I said before, the poem went to Halim for review. He responded that he was happy with it, but did wish I had included a certain part of Adams life that I had left out. So, I went back and added a few stanzas to include that portion of Adam’s life. I’m so glad that I did, because it lined up really well with his sermon that Sunday.
What was it like to perform the poem? What did you think when you saw the first cut of the film?
I have this nutty fantasy of becoming a spoken word artist, so getting to perform the poem was (forgive my cliche, here) a dream come true! And it was definitely an adventure…
It took several hours to get to our filming location, and it was around midnight on a Thursday that we actually began the filming. Well, I’m a middle school teacher and my bedtime is early-o’clock, so I was hopped up on coffee and jitters. It was also below freezing in the building, which helped to keep me awake, but I had on lots of layers and kept hand warmers in my pockets to keep my teeth from chattering while reading the teleprompter.
But the late and the cold were totally worth it! The film was beautiful! I’m my own worst critic, so I’ll spare you most of my initial thoughts upon viewing, but I love the image of the dead tree in the background as the poem begins, “On his back beneath a tree, branches dancing in the wind…” And then there’s a beautiful juxtaposition between the dead tree on the set and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the poem, which ultimately brought death. I remembering thinking on that first viewing that Tim, Taylor, and Steven are ridiculously gifted, and that I am blessed to be in this family of talented artists.