First Presbyterian Church
Metuchen, NJ
Dec. 24, 2005

photographs by
Julie Walton Shaver

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Julie's Poetry


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Easter Call

If I could be with Jesus in
the garden where he kneeled,
witness to the serpent's song
the tempt of fate revealed,
I wish that I would have the strength
Cry, "Lord, I'll take your place,"
But know that I would turn away
My weakness, my disgrace.
If I would look to those in need
For Jesus in their eyes -
The Son,
His life would be fulfilled,
His pain, his sacrifice.

I want to rise each dawn and feel
the Spirit in my soul.
Ask for peace, for health, for breath,
the weak to be consoled,
arrest the fears that push me down -
He knows my words, my call.
He flies with me where'er I soar,
He stands me when I fall.
If I could see Him in my soul -
Imagine blinding glare!
The One
who died and rose for me,
a love beyond compare.

by Julie Walton Shaver
April 2006

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The picture at the top of the page shows my Dogwood tree on Thursday, three days before Easter. I hope the blossoms will be fully out by Easter morning! (The picture above is of my tree in 2004.) Why do people look for Dogwood trees to blossom around Easter time? It's not just because the blossoming tree signals full-fledged spring, but because there's a legend that ties the blossoms to the story of Easter: The delicate four-point blossom represents Jesus' suffering on the cross. Four white petals form a cross shape and surround the crown of thorns in the middle, tinged red to symbolize the blood of Christ. At the petal tips are red points, symbolizing blood from the nails that held Jesus' hands and feet. Blossoming at Easter, the flowers remind the faithful of Jesus' death and resurrected life.

The poem is dedicated to my dear friend, Sid Riddlestorffer, who asked me for over a year to try my hand at an Easter poem. I finally did!

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I took this photograph just before 7 a.m., Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006. For this white flowering dogwood tree to be considered in full bloom would be for the blossom petals to be fully extended and white in color. Most of the blossoms on the tree are not fully open, and they still have a tinge of green. But it's close enough for me!



Jacob's Tombstone, June 1796
The exact date is held inside a tree.

Jacob Martin died today.
Sally sat alone on the front porch,
rocking an empty cloth, her second boy, born
in the cold of winter, gone in the warmth of June.
Rocking still, she sat alone, caressing his empty cloth, staring north
at the leaves of red maple dripping rain as she vowed reunion.
Jeffe leaned at the doorway, arms crossed, staring south,
and said to bury the boy in the town cemetery would
grant everlasting life.


Jacob's tombstone came today.
Sally wore her black bonnet, carrying his
empty cloth in processing to the shadeless grave
where red sandstone bore her child's name.
Jeffe thus prayed, 'What beautiful love
was seen in thy short life and death of woe.
Our boy Jacob, may thy soul touch the face of God
and live as the trees that thee might be
granted everlasting life.'


Jacob's mother died today.
Sixty-seven years since and buried in black bonnet,
she had held his empty cloth and promised to meet him there
where red sandstone had begun to fade and peel.
They buried Sally towns away though, in a field of maple shade
along the road to Manhattan, for a parishioner had heard
her once mutter on a rain drenched day by oak sapling near the porch,
her fingers red with soil, 'She who plants trees plants hope and
grants everlasting life.'


Jacob's seed was born today.
Maple fallen down from heaven to extend Sally's roots
into soil where, covered in a tangled web forgotten,
red sandstone lay unmoved, untouched three or perhaps four score.
Town bustling, coal burning, steam rising, bells ringing,
the new train to Manhattan sending seeds at noon and ten, rising
with the wind, but just one with her last stop the old Metuchen cemetery,
falling by red sandstone where she might
live with him in everlasting life.


Jacob's soul touched heaven today.
In maple seventy rings tall, her leaves reaching in the warmth of June,
ever higher, he met the face of God in Sally's branches.
She will not rest. Her soul cradles red sandstone from the wind
of trains on the half hour, his blood in her veins,
sprinkling down in drenching rain from maple seeds. She holds Jacob,
slowly encompassing herself around him, soon the century lost.
What beautiful love is seen, for together they rise and fall,
intertwined in timeless everlasting life.

by Julie Walton Shaver
August 2004

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For many decades, the Old Colonial Cemetery in Metuchen was neglected.
This tombstone reads, where legible:
Jacob C. the 2d
Son of Jeffe and Sally
Martin
Died June the
(date obscured by tree) '796 aged 6 mon