You’ve heard, of course, how Blaise Pascal played dice – An arbitrary way to find the truth, As though the logic, weighed up in a trice (A coin tossed in the air), could render proof Redundant. Can eternity be found In such impulsive propositions? We Feel that faith should demand much surer ground. All the same, cast your eyes about you; see The endless space of universe and how Your eyes cannot contain, nor can your mind, The start or end of anything. Well now: Trust your instinct, trust the facts you find; Either way, your trust’s a game of chance, But God pursues us in this fretful dance.
“Am I okay?” the question asks itself.
The mind retreats within to make reply
And eyes forever dart towards the shelf
(The cupboard open, fruit left out to dry).
Unsettled souls put back the oil of joy
And rifle through supplies to find the seed.
The memory bank’s a plastic, moulding joy,
Responsive to the anxious way we knead,
New lies put in for truth, new fears for peace.
For we transform the past each time we check,
And, moulding former years, these years can’t cease.
There’ll always be new jokers in the deck,
New ways to stop ourselves from singing praise
And counting blessings in these blessed days.
The lies I tell myself are always true;
I make them true with every strained belief,
Confirming in myself the self I rue
And batter in my mind without relief.
The other possibility is faint;
It’s scarred by life, by nails, by Cross’s shame.
I take white surfaces and then I paint
Dark colours which I call by my own name.
The patterns which I paint declare in me
The ridges and the grooves; the light I leave
For other selves. I paint the worst in me.
Tomorrow I will see what I believe:
Far safer for today to say the worst
Than trust the best and end up still accursed.
The leap required steps out into thin air,
For air is all I see, and yet I know –
Know what? what’s known? – the promises are there
Yet soft like wind and silent like the snow.
The space of possibility is vast
And frightens as it welcomes and gives flight;
It echoes with the failures of the past
And glares with futures, blank for being bright.
Determinism sings a well-known strain,
The soundtrack of tomorrow’s yesterday.
If I should leap or if I should refrain
Is something which my history dare not say.
The answer lies in scars which, scarred for me,
Give rise to feet and lift me in their plea.
Lift feet and jump: the air is thick with grace;
The ground caves in the longer that you stand.
The chasm opens more the more you pace,
Yet time and space are pebbles in His hand.
No terra firma stands beneath your soles,
For land is weakest when it’s built on fear
And while you wait these fast-expanding holes
Make nothing of the truth that now appears.
So live: eternity is wide and welcoming,
And give: give all; the best you’ll give is loss
And glory’s weight outweighs the loss you bring.
When truth burns bright, it will burn out the dross
And emptiness will fill with very Light,
More deep than grave, more radiant than sight.
Do not mistake the fold for where we live: It overlaps the outside and the in, Suturing together, and it binds What otherwise would float and duck and dive In nexus-waves of incompleteness. Yes: It’s true that we are nothing if our minds Are not caught up in Being’s dance. The less We live to others, then the less we live. Still, there’s an Other who directs the dance: He holds it, total, in its flux and flow; It moves and waves and changes ever more. The being that is truest and most sure Yet many-pleated – life par excellence – Dwells in the folds of His eternal now.
Eternity opens its arms to receive me:
It holds me within its all-hoping delight;
And I, safely carried by grace, rich, surrounding,
Am strengthened and stored in the brightness of Christ.