Advent 11: Nunc Dimittis

My eyes have seen
yet my heart forgets,
eager to assume the worst.
I would be Simeon and yet
dismiss the word
still unfulfilled.

Only let me see, I pray,
yet choke to hear the words.
Sight is not faith; I must hold on
to all my hope deferred and keep
vigil with what mercy shows.

Do not dismiss me yet.

Unless I See: After Caravaggio’s “Incredulity of Saint Thomas”

No need to touch the scars;
Caravaggio got that detail wrong.
The sheer force of His presence made Thomas crumple,
doubt ceasing where belief gained life,
the parched taste, hesitant like salt, exultant like wine,
as loosened lips croaked,
My Lord and my God.

Yet I am comforted to see
both the outstretched hand and
the companions’ fingers lifting his.
I cannot tell if, like Thomas,
I could simply stop doubting and believe at such a sight,
but, held up by the weathered,
briny hands of those who’ve seen with me,
I, like him, can lift a wrinkled brow in faith.

Sonnet

Image from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus"
Image from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Your mind’s a rhizome and your head’s at sea.
Stray flotsam, jetsam drift in it; its roots
Run deeper than the ocean bed and shoots
Burst out of it, this way and that. The key
To tracing thoughts back to their unity
Lies not in system or in sticking boots
Into the wildness of your thought. The fruit
Will show the truth for judgment of the tree;
Meanwhile, your wild plurality of thought
Unsettles – let it. In your fragments, turn
To where one Word encompasses it all.
Within these blowing winds, the truth’s a squall,
But in my calm, confusion will be caught.
Disintegrate in me; to me, return.

Bursting Dimensions

Wassily Kandinsky, "Composition X" www.artchive.com
Wassily Kandinsky, “Composition X”
http://www.artchive.com

If you really believe,
then the day
and the dull of its light won’t confine
the dimensions of sight;
you may look through the night
and see there
the promise of Life.

Do you really believe?
On your way
through the frontiers of darkness and time,
you may feel all your might
leak out into the night,
yet the Word
will strengthen your sigh.

Therefore – really believe
for you may.
Though you leap in the dark, soon the sky
will erupt with true Light.
That day, yesterday’s plight
will be silent
at Faith’s firm reply.

Easter Thursday

And He reigns!

He reigns in light and in quiet,

in death and in life,

in depth and in height.

 

He reigns in plenty,

He reigns in drought.

He reigns in our faith, reigns in our doubt

and nothing is too big for Him

who rose from death a shining King…

 

Put to death your anguished griefs:

the king who died now lives again

and all time’s tattered woes and fears

can no longer bind His faithful sons.

Lent 24: Friday of Third Week

Our minds cannot contain
something so small, so
microscopic, yet
Universe sustained within –

a mustard seed
which sees the mountain,
sees despair beneath its foot
and says to it, Now move.

O God. The mountain blocks our view.
The heights have dizzied;
the depths distress.
Open your seed within.

Lent 20: Monday of Third Week

Yes, the seas stir;
the Son, walking atop the waves, does not mind,
a sovereign treading the puddles of his soil.

We, quaking in the boat
or sinking with the self-consciousness of faith,
look aghast and fret. Teacher! The waves consume…

But see how He strides.
See the waves bend and break at His touch.
See Peter stand again, drenched in doubt, shaking with truth.

Do not be afraid.
He remembers we are dust, drifting atop the earth’s waves.
Watch and see: He does a new thing. Rise and believe.

Even So, Even So (After Denise Levertov’s “Suspended”)

When I first read Denise Levertov’s “Suspended”, it amazed me with the perfect way it blended the starkness of life with the delicate beauty of grace. You can read her poem here, in a wonderful post from CPX of their favourite religious poems, and here is my own response to Levertov.

Even So, Even So (After “Suspended”)

No sense can receive the sense
Of what it is that catches me;
You sing of joy, joy, in your heart
And I, sometimes, can know that joy, and yet
It is not clapping which sustains.
Hands that have no atoms hold me;
Even so, even so, in their infinite, silent substance they
Keep my frail floating self from
All these chasms that it seeks.

Being (After Denise Levertov’s “Flickering Mind”)

Well, November is running away from us and so far I’ve only managed one poem for my 12 Poets Project this month. So it’s time for another one, this one inspired by Denise Levertov’s wondering “Flickering Mind”, one of the best poetic expressions I have read of the human mind’s struggle with religious devotion. You can read Levertov’s poem here. Levertov’s poetic form is quite fluid, so I have gone with a looser interpretation of it here than I usually do. Happy reading!

Being (After “Flickering Mind”)

In this multiplicity,
this many-stranded, fragmentary
fold of life, I run
    and fly
and flee from You, my God,
   who Are
the constant in the changing whole.
I am absent, You are
   firm,
the still point in this constant blur,
the first thought and the final Word.
   I sit
and yet I seldom sit. Martha-movement
takes my sight
and I evade Your searching eyes.
   To stop,
to rest, to be before You,
this is costly; nonetheless
I live not if not
   within You.