A well-known poet once compared ice cream to cold paste to which I say, “Yuck!” Though not very poetic sounding, icy pudding could work as a comparison or maybe creamy snow, but the idea of paste as a delectable dish doesn’t work for anyone beyond the preschool age of paste-tasting.
As an avid reader of the Bible, I find a wealth of workable metaphors in its pages, particularly Psalms, because we cannot picture God without some kind of comparison to present the Unknown as the known.
That thought led me to metaphors frequently used for Jesus as “Lion” and “Lamb” – “Lion” for royalty, dignity, and strength and “Lamb” to represent obedience (in this case, to God the Father), meekness (as opposed to arrogance or self-centered willfulness), a warm covering, a supply of lanolin, and a nurturing source of food. Therefore, the connotations make a reasonably, relevantly good fit for things we want to say about Jesus.
In biblical times, a lamb was also used as a blood sacrifice for sin. So was an ox. So was a goat, but can you imagine those last two metaphors working? Not!
Metaphors need to make fresh connections.
Metaphors need to make sense.
Take the moon, for instance, and think of the ways people have tried to describe it in various stages – like a fingernail moon or the grin of a Cheshire cat. But when I tried to arrive at a new metaphor, I couldn’t think of a thing, so that’s where I began. Then, as I wrote, a poem about the process of finding metaphors for the moon came to me instead:
Sonnet Written Blankly in Stone
The moon says nothing new to me.
Its fullness does not harvest pumpkin
pies nor make a flat dinner plate to hold
a small round of Gouda. It would please
me to offer you a sphere of cheesecake
with blueberries as dark as dusk. If you
insist on paying, collect those opaque
coins from the money tree plant whose
real name I forgot. Or send me a card
of black paper with a white dot to mar
the middle at which each eye must stare
and stare. Everywhere I look, angels roll
away a big round stone as white as a full
moon hurled back to hold a pitch black sky.
Mary Sayler, ©2017, from Lost in Faith