Sunday, April 25, 2010

When the Child was a Child

When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging,
wanted the brook to be a river,
the river to be a torrent,
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people.
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

When the child was a child,
It choked on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding,
and on steamed cauliflower,
and eats all of those now, and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child,
it awoke once in a strange bed,
and now does so again and again.
Many people, then, seemed beautiful,
and now only a few do, by sheer luck.
It had visualized a clear image of Paradise,
and now can at most guess,
could not conceive of nothingness,
and shudders today at the thought.

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.
When the child was a child,
It was enough for it to eat an apple, … bread,
And so it is even now.

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,
it had, on every mountaintop,
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.

When the child was a child,
It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today.

-- Lied Vom Kindsein, Peter Handke

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We Live in the Shadowlands

"We live in the shadowlands.
Sun is always shining somewhere else...
around a bend in the road...
over the brow of a hill."
--From Shadowlands

"[The decay of Logic results from an] untroubled assumption that the particular is real and the universal is not."
— C.S. Lewis

We want the experience, but not the meaning, not an approach to the meaning, not a walk through the winter woods, I have seen the meaning once, and once only, and other times as well, but ever time was the first, it is in the beginning that our world is decoupled from the particular, secularization undone, the air becomes thin, more like light than matter, and you step for a moment into the heart of meaning, the world filled with celestial light, the remembrance of something before but not yet, and the universal becomes, it unfolds, opens up and swallows you whole.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Faith Feels Like

No one ever told Lewis that grief felt so like fear.
--A following fear...on tears we choke
No one ever told me that faith felt so much like hope,
And hope so much like love.
Love is the greatest of all.
Not state, but the transformer of state
The Great Thaw
Winter is gone
In love the Holy Spirit draws us to the Father in Christ
It is where we end, and where he begins.
Love never ends.

Friday, April 9, 2010



I saw the Cross today

At the end
And at the beginning
Of all words

Spring storms; in the empty hall lie Easter flowers
-- Poetry fails and falls

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Aral Sea - April 2010

I am the fisherman of the falling shore
My boat is lost now
To the Aral Sea, forevermore
Offer rain prayers -- sing up, sing down, I go now
I go
Ho, I go to wash in the water of my people
Brother in face and need
Pouring sand all down over me
Mom you go to wash in the water falling
And Dad, and my sister, my people
You go
Cast out your net, brother to me
Singing...Pour, Pour, Pour --
Out the Aral Sea
Fisher of the sand and shore
He is my brother
-- Pour, Pour, Pour

We are a people
We are not a people
We were once a people

Ho, wash me in the water learning
Water and belly
And stone
Are empty in tin roof and drum


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Gull that Flew in a Spanish Sky

The Gull that Flew in a Spanish Sky

A seagull flew across the sky
A child saw it fly
He spoke to the gull in Spanish
The gull that flew in a Spanish sky

The child asked the gull his name
But the Gull flew on by
The child ran after him
After the seagulls cry

Had he known the gull by name
The child would have addressed him so
Instead he could only watch him fly
And follow the seagulls cry

The gull flew out to the sea
And the child could follow no more
He stood against the shore
Then lay in the waves and cried

A seagull flew across the sea
Where no child can follow
No one there to hear his cry
The gull that flew in a Spanish sky

I wrote this poem a few years ago, it is an exploration of the Romantic impulse, we all follow our seagulls and when we do it is the very breath of meaning, we hear the call, we might even see the gull, and we are drawn to "catch it", not to hold it in our hands, but to follow, to have something to follow, the gull becomes an idol just because for a moment our senses our captivated in chase, we love whatever captivates us away from the truth of experience, and we hate the ocean that we always knew was there, we know that following the Romantic impulse will only lead us there, to the impassible, maybe death, maybe all Romanticism is the courting of death, an ancient death-rite, a mystery religion entirely our own, Romanticism leads to the subjective, it is the road away from the objective, reaching the ocean is the moment that you must return to where you began, to leave the waters and the beach, to find your home again, not led by the call anymore, but led by the failure of the subjective to return to the objective, the cry of failure.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter - The Feast

(The Cross Beside The Baltic, Caspar David Friedrich)

An empty cross, the image of confluence, here all things meet, but to see the empty cross is to chain ourselves in the Platonic cave, it is only a shadow pointing to the true sense, it points us to Christ and the wounds he still bears, these wounds are the true manifestation that the cross merely alludes to, by his wounds we are healed, and by his life we have life, he is the fulfilment of all joy, joy as the shadow of the cross, the shadow of a shadow.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

(Luke 24:44-49)

(Quartet op 132 3rd movement, Beethoven)

And thus Easter is not a commemoration of an event, but-every year-the fulfillment of time itself, of our real time. For we still live in the same three dimensions of time: in the world of nature, in the world of history, in the world of expectation. And in each one of them man is in a secret search for joy, that is, for an ultimate meaning and perfection, for an ultimate fufillment which he does not find. Time always points to a feast, to a joy, which by itself it cannot give or realize. So needful of meaning, time becomes the very form and image of meaninglessness.

(For the Life of the World, Alexander Schmemann)