Jewel Sparks’ A Ray of Light Reaches Down to Man is a book of Christian poetry that explores the ups and downs of a life of faith from the perspective of a narrator who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but is able to transcend her illness through the support of God and Jesus.
The book’s first poem, “Wouldn’t You Rather,” sets the tone and background for the collection, providing an overview of the speaker’s mental health journey. Writing this longer poem in tercets, which gives it a lively pace, the speaker describes the beginning of her healing: “I was beginning to understand/ The path God was forming/ Touching the hurting, extending a hand.// After my 3rd hospital stay /And MUCH counseling/ I began finding God’s way. “ The rhyme scheme lends a formality and sense of unification within each stanza.
Some poems begin with Bible verses, then extrapolate on the quoted topic. Others begin with more direct imagery from the material world, with impressions leading into religious insights. For example, “Impossibility” begins: “Grow feathers/ Breathe sand/ Quench thirst with crackers/ Make a meal of ketchup// Out Give God’s Grace/ By His grace, He/ Gives us His love and/ Grace every time.” These pieces are especially strong as they hold some surprise and quirkiness.
Some poems, however, begin with overly familiar metaphors, such as, “When the path of life is painfully dark.” Others are too prosaic, with line breaks that don’t add any drama or music, such as: “Today when you ask for/ your needs, ask, also to/ sit on His lap and to dwell/ in His presence, to look/ in His eyes.”
Overall, this book is a hopeful, encouraging exploration of one person’s faith. Those seeking a fellow Christian’s path will find comfort and relatability as Sparks describes how God lifts her up despite her everyday challenges to make sense of the world and remain a good and joyful person.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.