"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

13 February 2006

"The Heart's Embrace"

Seeing in the dark has been something of a theme lately and so on my mind. I picked up Scott Cairns' Philokalia again this weekend, and found this poem that picks up that theme in a way.

Having Descended to the Heart
by Scott Cairns

Once you have grown used to the incessant
prayer the pulse insists upon, and once
that throbbing din grows less diverting

if undiminished, you'll surely want
to look around -- which is when you'll likely
apprehend that you can't see a thing.

Terror sometimes sports an up side, this time
serves as tender, hauling you to port.
What's most apparent in the dark is how

the heart's embrace, if manifestly
intermittent, is really quite
reliable, and very nearly bides
as if another sought to join you there.

"Be still and know that I am God" -- I am not very good at being still. But this encourages me to seek that stillness and listen for His desire to join me in it. (Yes, yes, I know that "He is always there" -- but I shut Him out quite effectively by my overactive and anxious mind.)

I like this poem especially, I think, because of the way Cairns uses the heart metaphor. I remember listening to my daddy's heartbeat as he held me close in his lap, that steady, sure, mysterious sound that somehow comforted me. I would like to learn to listen to my own heartbeat, to calm down, be still, just listen until I myself am silenced and able to know that He is God and not fear so much the darkness.

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