There is beauty in all we know
and beauty in all we don’t know.
Our journey is to love it all.
to have faith in the struggle is to be willing to sit (if only for a moment) with the amazing, spacious uncertainty that may weigh us down into the paradox of groundlessness…..please be patient and loving with all that is unsettled in this world…..
Perhaps we do not really believe the world speaks to us or that we know how to listen. These troubling questions form the heart of Louise Gluck’s remarkable collection of prayer-poems, ‘The Wild Iris.’ More than a third of the poems in the set are within the ancient ritual context of Matins and Vespers, themselves prayers. Filled with profound longing and an often-painful sense of uncertainty, they address a God who may or may not be listening, who may not even exist. But the world exists and it is the world that speaks, that responds to these prayers, mostly in the language of flowers- trillium, lamium, snowdrops, scilla, violets, clover, a red poppy, a white rose- but also in the language of a clear morning, retreating wind, early darkness, September twilight. Each has its own subjective presence, its own distinctive voice. Each calls out to the lonely supplicant, seeking through a gesture of some kind to touch, perhaps to heal. Gluck invites is to enter imaginatively into the life of these beings, to consider what their voices might sound like, what they might be saying to us. Or simply to open ourselves to the idea that the world is full of speech and that we ourselves are being addressed continuously. As in this case by a sunset:
My great happiness
is the sound your voice makes
calling to me even in despair; my sorrow
that I cannot answer you
in speech you accept as mine.
Prayer does not always know what or whom it seeks, or even that it is seeking at all. Here, the supplicant calls out in despair, but to whom? We are invited to consider that it is perhaps the sun, or the fading light of sunset, whose voice we now hear addressing the one who has called out. There is, it seems, a supple, fluid, expansive language, shared by all. But there is an inclination to mistrust it, to close the space, to reduce the scope of what can be spoken and heard. This is not the field in which prayer lives and moves, which remains open, alive, undetermined…..Douglas Christie
The Word did not come into being, but ‘it was.’
It did not break upon the silence, but
‘it was older than the silence
and the silence was made of it.’
…..N. Scott Momaday