Lie down in chaos

Anselm Kiefer - Man under a pyramid
Anselm Kiefer – Man under a pyramid

He gives His beloved sleep.
(Psalm 127:2)

The bed decked in a week’s laundry, and
a million miniscule things left undone,
Sleep still says, “Rest your weary head.
The day is long, tomorrow longer,
and after that who knows.
For now, this minute, lie down.
In chaos, be still.”
So I am still,
and the chaos does not overwhelm me,
and the chaos will not overwhelm.

My Examen

Give me only your love and grace. That is enough for me.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Suscipe

Resolution is void.
The more I look inward,
the more each motive,
each spirit I discern
becomes a snarl, a defiant reminder
that my best attempts are, at best, no good.

Though I ask my conscience to justify
each act from rising to setting of sun,
only the man on the tree has answers for me.
My questions, at best, hammer nails.

What am I doing, have done for Christ?
The soldier sounds the Spirit’s reveille;
Morning exercise leaves me faint;
only Your love, Your grace animate me.

Lying upon my desultory stone,
this alone can console: the sight
of heaven descending to where I lie,
and God in this place, though I did not know.

Cosmology (II)

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Anselm Kiefer, “Jakobsleiter”

If it would still be meaningful to say, There are an infinite number of universes – if their profound otherness did not embarrass even the language of Being itself…if something we could discern and recognise as intelligent life were to occur in certain of these other realities, might we not learn that our notions of intelligence were, so to speak, parochial?
(Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind)

You might think it would humble us to know
     at the end of all our knowing that, for all
  this knowing, we are immeasurably                 small.
 You might think            the sheer expanse, the sheer scope
   of all that we name           Universe     might blow
      our very sense of union.      That we call
   "known"     what keeps evading scientific thrall
      (after all our knowing) only goes to show
   that,          while we think we can admire stars,
      they do not give a damn.      We are in truth
    the dots beneath their microscope. 
                                             What are we
   that we are mindful of ourselves?   By far
     better than knowing is to be   known, 
                                            youths
        beneath an ancient love     we cannot see.

Quo Vadis?

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Anselm Kiefer, sculpture

We could not see the top of this wall –
but now that we’ve scaled it, what lies before?
A dream of tomorrow? A promise of now?
The moment is furrowed on destiny’s brow.
No sureness of footing, yet held for the fall;
the wall is beneath us – what now?

20 Contemplations #19: Sleep, Wake

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Anselm Kiefer, “Falling Stars”

I slept, but my heart was awake.
A sound! My beloved is knocking…
(Song of Solomon 5:2a)

The world sleeps, but still some wise men gaze out
unto the beckoning sky, and some
still wake to hear the door pounding, night humm-
ing in active grace of years. No doubt,
the gentleness of the stars will not shout,
yet the song of the angels ever thrums,
always beauty, until mortals must come
to the end of ourselves, our hearts, our mouths…
Lie awake, lie empty. You long because
that which you long for cannot be grasped:
not now, not while this perishable stuff
can only defer your hopes, caught in chaff.
Lie awake, lie longing. Dwell in the pause
between the now and not yet. Never lapse.

20 Contemplations #11: Communion

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Anselm Kiefer, "Herzeleider"

…Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
(Luke 2:19)

I hold You; I bore You. Yet You cannot
be held by me. The story told from first
honours me but exalts You more: a dot
at the start, impossibly small, yet burst-
ing with life. How could this all be? I did
not make it so. I held You, I hold You,
yet Glory made You. I grew You inside,
yet You grew me. Your breath shows it is true:
so dependent, so in need of me.
Can I hold my saviour so? Can I birth
the world’s one hope, like fruit from ungrown tree?
Can my maker grow from this virgin earth?
All things out of nothing He grows, and so
my nothing He has given mother-glow.

20 Contemplations #10: Joy

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Anselm Kiefer, "Resumptio"

Delight the Spirit feels in constant burst:
Delight in Three, delight in all that’s good.
And as the Son descends, is born, is God,
Delight the Spirit feels at last, at first.
Joy of Spirit fractures Earth’s rehearsed
Ways of being happy. Earth gives a nod
To God, then walks the path that Adam trod.
Spirit breaks the world’s disguising curse:
Where fair is foul and foul is fair, it sounds
Like clanging noise, but hear the rhythmic joy
That dances in between the plaintive theme.
The theme of joy is shrouded, yet abounds;
It sleeps within the heart of infant boy
And whispers in the truest child dreams.