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  • Look for me another day. I feel that I could change.
    July 25, 2013

    From September 2010

    What I do these days, supposedly, is study ancient texts. Not many of them. Just the tiniest handful, written mostly by some hill people about three thousand years ago. And part of what I study is the history of interpretation of these texts. We watch the sacred text as it perseveres, steady and reliable, held aloft by human hands above a crowd rushing beneath it, the hands changing so quickly as generation passes it to generation that any single pair is little more than a flicker in the time-lapse film of the life of the world. (For some reason I imagine this crowd of humanity at a train station in the 1940s on brown film, moving on and off the platforms in long overcoats, and all the women are wearing hats.) What for the songwriter is a hymn about a king’s victorious plundering of his enemies becomes for a later audience a hymn about an ancestral prophet  and for an even later audience, a hymn for the recently appeared Messiah. The words, held aloft by their black ink from the blank page’s limitless potential for alteration, remain constant, while meaning rushes and swirls beneath it all in time, it seems.

    The parallels with so much else in life need hardly be stated. (And yet what are these internet tablets for, if not the inscription of things which need hardly be stated?) Memory is a strong parallel. I visit the memories of powerful moments in my life to find that the memory remains the same, but the meaning at this point in the narrative is different. I re-visit memories to which I have often returned only to find that the meaning of my own remembering is different from the previous remembering, which itself was an act of meaning that differed from the original. So many aspects of life offer similar parallels: the meals I eat, the conversations have, the people I am bound to, the letters I write, the prayers I pray. All of them so remarkably constant as if sacred and preserved by some unchanging nature, it seems, while beneath them, meaning tumbles and rushes without pause, and I am scrambling to catch my train.



    hope does not disappoint us
    October 8, 2011



    44
    October 6, 2011

    These days are the hour hand on a clock. Small motion stretched into stillness over time, space. But by God’s grace, not in a circle [please no, I pray]. Infinite series of distances traversed, motion through stillnesses infinite; paradoxa solvitur ambulando; in the every-morning rising, the prayers that pass my lips on the same unchartable breezes that send flickering the falling honeylocust feathers along the sidewalk. Who has known the mind of God?

    Even I do not miss myself, and so some things are easy to understand, and understood, they rest. Mortification. Before the foundation of the world, the Lamb slain, a people chosen, a Jonah, a Thomas, a John. We have the mind of Christ.



    Thou art…a litterall God…a metaphorical God too.
    October 4, 2011

    For the past week or so, I’ve been enjoying the poetry of Kimberly Johnson, author of the collections Leviathan With a Hook, and A Metaphorical God. I recommend her to you. I especially enjoyed the epigraph to A Metaphorical God, this eponymous quote from John Donne:

    My God, my God, Thou art a direct God, may I not say a litterall God, a God that wouldest bee understood literally, and according to the plaine sense of all that thou saiest? But thou art also (Lord, I intend it to thy glory, and let no profane misinterpreter abuse it to thy diminution), thou art a figurative, a metaphorical God too; A God in whose words there is such a height of figures, such voyages, such peregrinations to fetch remote and precious metaphors, such extensions, such spreadings, such Curtaines of Allegories, such third Heavens of Hyperboles, so harmonious eloquutions, so retired and so reserved expressions, so commanding persuasions, so persuading commandments, such sinewes even in thy milke, and such things in thy words, as all prophane Authors, seeme of the seed of the Serpent, that creeps, thou art the Dove, that flies.

    John Donne, Expostulation 19
    Devotions upon Emergent Occasions



    Isaiah 25:1-8
    September 21, 2011

    I.

    You are my God, Yahweh.
    I will lift you high.
    I will sing of Your name.
    For You have done what I can hardly fathom.
    A plan, from out of eternity, has come,
    Faithful,
    True.

    You have turned a city into a pile of rubble
    An unassailable fortress, fallen from its cliff
    The palace of strange princes was once a city;
    it has become something that can never be rebuilt

    Now a mighty people glorify You,
    The homelands of these merciless men fear You.

    For You became the strong center of impoverished cities, beseiged.
    You became the strong center of poor men, beseiged.

    You were shelter from storms.
    You were shade from the blistering heat.
    For at once,
    the winds of the cruel were both like a storm beating the walls,
    and like the heat of a scorched wasteland.

    They roar; You subdue.

    Like withering heat, quelled with a cloud’s shadow,
    the song of the violent turned to shame.

    II.

    Then Yahweh-Who-Commands-The-Powers-Of-The-Universe
    will prepare a banquet for all the nations gathered on the mountain,
    a feast overflowing with oil and the finest aged wine

    On that mountain, He will consume the shroud
    that is wrapped over the faces of the peoples
    and the burial sheet stretched over all the nations.

    He has swallowed death forever!
    Yahweh the Lord will wipe the tears from every cheek.
    He will undo His people’s shame
    and cast it beyond the edge of the world.

    Yahweh has spoken.