20 Contemplations #19: Sleep, Wake

tumblr_lx7cqlXZ821qe31lco1_r1_500
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.

Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 1

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https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/turkey-iraq-jordan-lebanon-syria/voices-syrias-youth-what-its-grow-refugee

He rose up like a shoot before Him, a shoot from the parched earth;
something spoken secretly occurred openly today.
(St Ephraim the Syrian, Nativity Hymns 1)

TV screens bear children’s prayers to a jolly man in red.
My wish list is as full as my cupboard; my spirit is silent today.
From department store dreams and desires filling reams,
O Son of Man, release us.
Shadows cast by desert palms long ago predicted
that only the thirsty will come to the well,
only the helpless will kneel.
Read history with alien desperation:
strangers in their homes know better than we
who never need long for Christmas.

Astronomy

"Kepler-452b artist concept" by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle - http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/soaking-up-the-rays-of-a-sun-like-star-artistic-concept.
“Kepler-452b artist concept” by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle – http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/soaking-up-the-rays-of-a-sun-like-star-artistic-concept.

…the dread of something after death –
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns – puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of…
(William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

What dreams may come when we set out for stars?
What will we find when, solar systems pierced,
We gaze beyond the reach of looking-glass?
That our Sun has a cousin much more fierce?
That Pluto’s a planet after all? That we
Are not alone? That man’s an errant knave?
That, mirrored in Kepler 452b,
We see our fate: as rock without any wave?
Still, wave; don’t drown. Light millennia stand
Between us and our twin; no cheap flights
To suss out greener grasses. Best-laid plans
Must prove themselves or else be caught in light.
Hope makes a fool of missions to other spheres,
Always ready when true land appears.

August

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I gather moments like raindrops,
         like snowdrops:
these microscopic buds of spring
         tricked by sun
     to come out, one     by one;
  I see
how hesitant can be
              can be
     the grandest glimpse of things
               and sing.

I catch the way your moments dance
         from distance –
yet close enough to ring
         the shadows into song
       in soft, legato days  of praise.
   I find
how hopefully we hold
               and hold
      in tentative expectancy
                  to see.

You hold our hope in moments of joy,
          unalloyed.
What we do not expect
          grips tight. I neglect
       too soon what we know.    Let go
     of fears
that pass. Joy is forever,
            forever
       the things that stir our hearts in song.
               Not long.

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The Womb of the Morning

(Written on Holy Saturday in Bicheno, Tasmania)

The oath must still hold true yet waiting dries expectation;
the dew of your youth evaporates in the tomb.
Now: what the LORD said to David’s Lord is unchanged,
but the rods of foes seem the triumphant ones today.
Only Pilate’s wife regrets the washing of hands; only women weep.
Only in secret do we take your body to its tomb.
In the morning, with spices and sorrow we will greet
your right hand and your nail-torn feet,
with your king’s footstool too heavy to roll away,
and something like morning tackling deadened hearts.
Drink by the brook as you wait, if you can;
silence might hold some promise in this night of nights.
Come dream.

Lent: The Wait, the Weight 6

Number days, yet know your days
     are kept in Him.
If He held stars, then He can hold
your dross, your deadened weight.

At dead-ends, wait. He makes
      all things well.
Hope can break, yet covenant
anchors days and ends.

Morning mends. The dross, the deadened weight
      of broken hope lifts.
When days are numbered, unencumbered
steadfast love holds tight.

[BWV 12] 06. Choral. Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan: https://youtu.be/3Il1YH2x280

Lent: The Wait, the Weight 4

What weighs heaviest now will soon be light;
what looms most stormily passes soon.
Clouds cannot linger; waves must break.
Because of this, we wait.

This lightness feels most dense now, but
the weight of glory, light as air,
will fall and smother all your Now
and revel in Not Yet.

We call to mind His Nonetheless and trust;
bookends of anguish hope in morning joy.
Though now the question, soon falls this reply:
Be gathered up in sky.