“…dirt [is] matter out of place.”
(Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger)
When the day’s settling is done, I seek
order in domestic chaos, restoring
categories I never previously held:
that these trains belong together and those
trucks do not; while this bus driver
does not fit that car, nor
does that book belong in
the middle of a gleeful floor.
But what to do
when categories are stretched beyond
rational recognition? For instance, what
to do with an unaccompanied sock
keeping company with a lone building block?
And the day must leave unsolved the mysteries
of where the baby monitor went or why
those DVDs are now room-mates with a train.
I calm the room like the baby who wakes
as the last Lego block is returned to its place,
while the unsorted debris of my own fractured day
must sit in its chaos, held in unuttered prayer.
When David’s son scanned the spiritual wreckage that was His house and delared, “Destroy this and I’ll raise it in three days,” He meant what He said not as metaphor – which my students all know is a kind of lying, a hedging of bets – but as Truth, both in symbol and fact. Daily they destroyed this house, and He, the true house, would raise it, would turn dull rubble to praise Him.
And when palm branches waved in Passover praise, and these Sanballats of another age raved, and He silenced them, likened them to duller than stone, for stones could be turned to a chorus of praise – I wonder if He turned in mind to Nehemiah, with his sword and his trowel, who knew certainly how our best laid plans make the best laid rubble until all our rubble is animate, raised and taught again to praise.
I don’t normally share other people’s work here but I read this gem this morning and it was so precious – especially the ending – that I thought I had to post it.
Consolation – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
All are not taken; there are left behind
Living Beloveds, tender looks to bring
And make the daylight still a happy thing,
And tender voices, to make soft the wind:
But if it were not so—if I could find
No love in all this world for comforting,
Nor any path but hollowly did ring
Where ‘dust to dust’ the love from life disjoin’d;
And if, before those sepulchres unmoving
I stood alone (as some forsaken lamb
Goes bleating up the moors in weary dearth)
Crying ‘Where are ye, O my loved and loving?’—
I know a voice would sound, ‘Daughter, I AM.
Can I suffice for Heaven and not for earth?’
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
You’ll be glad to hear your tree is sprouting leaves
and in the midst of blossom, tiny fruit.
Your little brother’s learning all the names
for almond, flowering gum and bottlebrush;
yet you by now will know far more than this.
The grass is thriving; this week we had it mown
and all about’s the fragrance of fresh lawn.
All this you’ve never seen: the buzzing stuff
of life, but life for us waiting like
an almond tree, a hopeful Jesse-shoot.
The bursting things of spring have nothing on
the harvest feast that sings where you now dwell.
We never knew your smile, yet this we’ve known:
for every tear we’ve shed, a seed is sown.