Distance disturbs my orientation.
When I calculate how long it takes
from A to B, I live inside
my cosy lie
that B is only down the street,
that all my life can be spanned by feet.
But freeway exits dominate.
I name streets and suburbs like family,
yet these are not local,
only your garden beside me
and your never-known name.
I would rest here and learn the generations;
too long I’ve lived in wandering,
too long been east of home.
Yet A to B has distance
until distance is gone.
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.
He also made the stars.
No twinkle. This is something terrible:
Flaming gas, explosive with bright thunder.
Scan the night sky, make a wish and wonder;
Yet it can destroy galaxies at will.
At will, He directs it. See it twinkle
Before Him, docile, obedient under
His hand. It knows His voice which flung unto
The farthest reaches, blazing, blazing, until –
He beckons in; He ushers out. All time
Is planned, is held in hand. And now He holds
That star – yes, that resplendent ball of flame,
From countless blazing sentries known by name,
From centuries, millennia untold,
And places it just so within His rhyme.
What hope does everlasting life hold for us?
It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.
(New City Catechism)
When the door swings out and, face-to-face we realise
all our clutching life could only mimic, never be,
we shall not fall
for all our walking here has been stumbling.
Now we stumble –
for who wouldn’t, when wandering in cloud?
Then we shall move
in the fluency of union,
life itself again – no shadow –
and never will we grasp for knowing
that we are held
your sight grows faint, yet Heaven’s gate
still opens up for you to walk through.
This is enough; O grace enough.
Let weary eyes now rest.
Like Simeon, though waiting lags,
this promise stands in baby’s rags and gives you rest.
Your rags have failed; His are your glory.
Eyes: this is enough. Now rest.
O weary eyes, now rest.
Enough. The shaking of your lids must rest.
No dream, nor fear: this is enough.
Eden restored; His sacrifice
to dazzle shame.
Hold tight. Hold me tight:
what coverings I have sought,
cannot disguise my nakedness.
My shame burns garments – yet
You clothe in righteousness.
Hold me tight; You are enough,
yet I am afraid, and turn
to fig-leaves when rightly I should
bathe myself in You.
O Lamb, my joy, my garment of blood,
O hold me tight.
J.S. Bach / Ich habe genug, BWV 8 (Herreweghe): https://youtu.be/XopQG0Gjgmo
The lie entwines with half-truths:
it pleases the eye, and wisdom seems good,
yet that which seems deceives, tears apart at the seams
the fine-woven fabric of image and praise.
Who are we? Like God, yet when
we grasp at fruit to be like God,
the image dies; the garden turns to dustbowl.
O what have we done, what become?
Grace rearranges, but grace demands
no hubris, no self. Leave haughty chins at the gate.
Raise heads, but only to trust;
raise hands, but only to pray and praise.
Surely you will be like God; yes, and only when,
like God, you know yourself in Him alone;
only when, in perfect alignment with Father,
you lose all face to win a kingdom.
…The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
– T.S. Eliot, “Preludes”
I will be late for work: the traffic tells me so, and Adam's curse run deep in roads too busy to know their name.
Beaten by roadside lies the debris and dust of abandoned schedules: here someone burst a tyre, there a jerry-can was left, there some refuse of a long-forgotten breakfast. Why do wild flowers speak in pitches more alive to me? Pointed, they dance in the breeze: small, white-purple flecks of something else, another time, another Where. Yet life is lived on roads, and time is stretched in tyre-marks to places where we'd rather be. Wake up. Gratitude's an act of grace and this day is thick with its potential. Nothing's lived except when it harkens to all that defies it, and all that belies it. If the day begins thus, then let it, and listen: this is where you must now be.
What is baptism?
Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.
(New City Catechism)
Why water? First
He hovered, spirit, above the depths,
divided water in sky from land,
said, “Here shall your proud waves be stopped,
here go no further.”
Yet then, when earth
had sickened and man had withered His image,
He took out the stopper and let the waves pour forth.
Now He bids
water flow over bodies
and into hearts, cleansing, reversing
the tides of shame, of uncreation; now pours
Spirit flooding with life, where only
death once hovered.
Take the waves, take
the plunge. Life beckons.
Still His Spirit hovers and breathes
into the dead, still He makes
and remakes and remakes.