Category Archives: Poetry
Dive into the ocean hidden in your chest, and discover a new world in yourself. — Attar of Nishapur
Strange and wonderful music reverberates throughout the cosmos.
How is it that millions of fragments can think and act as one? How do starlings form massive murmurations that fire the imagination? Who choreographs hundreds of lightening bugs? How can the physical cells that were once a man mowing lawns split into a billion points of light yet communicate and dance as one?
And yet, that is exactly where he found himself a millisecond after his heart seized to a stop. Fully awake. Fully alive. Fully aware. Intact. Flying, swirling, weaving, cellular particles turning in on themselves, now a pirouette, revolving, twirling, dancing to the hymn of the universe, flashing through galaxies where time bends and light stands still.
All the molecules he had always called “me” split apart, dissipated, separated, drifting off in varied directions among quasars and nova, swirling about the fiery rings of black holes where space-time curves and braids into strands of aqua light, and where seraphim chant haunting symphonies of harmonious ethereal sounds.
He was quite calm, observing with interest that he was cognizant yet simultaneously in millions of molecules spread over galaxies, swimming in oceans, climbing mountains, strolling through gardens, visiting his widow in her dreams, and flying through space.
His multiplicity-singularity dove like roosting chimney swifts into a massive black hole where his fragments coalesced into a new body – immortal, no longer susceptible to disease or pain, no longer limited by time or space, able to surf the stars and ride the dolphins across seas of warm grace.
Through wormholes and ripples of space-time, whole, solid, embodied. Here people become musical notes and the colors of the morning. Here, people merge with electromagnetic energy. Eons of oceans surge within Denisovan descendants.
Here, bighorn sheep speak quietly.
Aborigines explain their intricate petroglyphs to medieval scholars who stroke their beards and consult dusty tomes.
Here, there are no warriors, no bullies, no officers with guns, no judges with gavels, no cells, no chains. Bombastic politicians lie hog-tied and gagged, merchants weep, and dictators wring their hands while children laugh and play, tossing dreams into the air. Amber stardust floats back to earth and takes the form of talking frogs wearing waistcoats and geese sporting bonnets.
Here Alpha becomes Omega. He swirls with the hymns of the cosmos and communes with the atoms from which he was formed and the seawater that courses through his veins. He can simultaneously be fully present in dozens of places.
Space-time turns out to not be empty, nor cold. There is a substance, an ether, like air to a bird, like water to a fish, in which all dwells. It feels warm, comforting, pleasant, relaxing, and peaceful. Tranquility reigns.
Deep within, we intuitively sense that we are cradled by something both wonderful and incomprehensible.
For us, one of life’s blessings is volunteering at a nature center dedicated to education. An expert in native and edible plants led a walk recently during which he taught me (among many other things) that thorny plants indicate land healing itself. Ohio, for example, was once 90% covered with old growth forests. By 1900, only 10% of the state was forested. Once cleared, some of the most productive farmland on earth was available to settlers.
Leave the cleared land alone and grasses will grow and meadows will soon fill with thorny plants of various kinds. Many have brightly colored berries that call to the birds,
“Eat me, poop out the seeds and spread us around!”
The thorns, on the other hand, broadcast a different message to animals:
“Don’t walk here and don’t try to eat us. You’ll be sorry if you do.”
Without animals chewing and trampling on things, box elder trees grow quickly, then give way to walnut trees, which give way to the mighty oaks of the mature forest. The land, once denuded, is healed and whole.
Native people inhabited this land for 10,000 years before any European set foot on it.
One cannot exaggerate the arrogance of European explorers and settlers who “discovered” and “claimed” the lands, then proceeded with campaigns of genocide, all in the name of God.
The native people knew the forests and managed the land with care. They understood the healing heralded by the thorns.
Thankfully, there are many of us who are coming to understand our proper calling in God’s world – ours is a stewardship to protect and care for creation. We are beginning to grasp the reality that we are a part of nature, interconnected with all living things. We are learning to garden organically, eat locally sourced foods, compost vegetation, and recycle. We are seeing the absurdity of scraping off topsoil and laying down non-native sod, and of eradicating those thorny “weeds” with lymphoma-inducing herbicides.
Many of us care about the air we breathe and the water we drink. We want our beaches to be free of oil. We want the nations of the world to transition quickly to sustainable energy so that millions won’t have to die in floods and fires. We are learning that the first task God gave humans in Genesis was to care for God’s garden.
As with nature, so with us. The interior person reflects the outer world with which she is systemically connected.
Some of my kin may have slashed and burned great forests to plant crops.
I cannot judge them.
I have slashed and burned relationships, opportunities, and talents.
I am the wounded field.
Thorns appear. Yes, and some fruit as well.
I tend to only see the thorns.
Hunger drives the cougar to the hunt.
The hot knife cauterizes the wound.
Though I long to be a mighty oak in the divine forest, I am reminded that God calls
the weak “strong,”
the less “more,”
the slave “master,”
and the poor “blessed.”
See us! Thorny weeds, one and all!
The Master is healing.