I wrote this poem as a reaction to several monotheistic traditions I have come into contact with in my life.
I am very struck by the idea in Jewish traditions that an apt reaction to God’s creation is profound sadness because the world is so beautiful and poignant.
This idea is contained in The Wailing Wall. I also have a Muslim friend who I have been talking to about religious matters, and he taught me that God and Nature are not the same thing.
In my own Anglican heritage, I realize there is a lot of rejoicing around nature, and this particularly shows in Anglican hymns that celebrate the trees and birds.
This poem contains some of all of these thoughts, and how these different traditions might play out in a spiritual truth.
It is my larger hope for the world that the three monotheistic traditions of the Pentateuch -Judaism, Islam, and Christianity-, will one day find peace with each other as we learn to grow by interacting with one another on a spiritual level.
Nature, God, And My Prayers And Me
Part One: Waves of Prayer
I know God is complex. He’s a system
Of thought, emotion, feeling, and light.
Red, gold, green, blue, radiant light.
We feel the tingling of the leaves,
Which are not God—they’re just
Such greasy sparkling shivers
Of early earthly springtimes.
That’s how it is to be in this world.
Sometimes you’re far from God.
Other times, your so close he Van Gogh’s
Your mind with crazy light. Things
Shiver, shimmering, always. The wind
Kicks up its heels and brings the seasons
In. In all this green and blue,
We must see the invisible
Force behind what works.
It’s the light behind the shadows.
And the world loves me, I know,
And God loves me (I know
Because people say He does). I can feel it,
Too, when I listen to the quiver of my pulse
Being red, then blue. I used to take
Walks in nature, when the wind grew
Over the world like twining ivy,
When I lived in the country,
And nature was rampant as music in silence.
Looking at the electric honeysuckle,
The night-vision of pulsating magnolias
Waking up to the morning dawning,
This creation we’re in would warm to the touch
Of the birds. Hymns in school praised Nature—
The gravel on my path crunched under my heels
As I remembered my childhood as I walked.
I went to an Anglican girls’ seminary and we sang
To a shaking piano, “All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small.”
Our soprano kept up, as we sang, “the Lord God loves them all.”
I have learned a few things, since then.
God is not Nature. He’s not the elves and fairy
Spirits. He’s a larger scaffolding at work
Behind the spirals of stars. He’s the birth and death
Of every moment that greets us, then melts away like foam.
I don’t know how to get to Him. The foam
Lisps. In my lonely
Little bed I pray, bringing the bright world of Him
Into the story of my life as I ask for things,
Thankful for what I have. I feel the bright world’s shadows,
And my snaking through them, during the wingspans
Of my day. When I pray,
And remember what I want to say. My puzzling
Those shadows move out among the light in a riddle.
I’m looking for love among the blue ruins of this century.
I ride trains, busses. I am going in circles of time.
I am getting to God, then getting further away.
It ebbs and flows. The day works
Spiraling clockwork on me. I savor the city grit.
I move around in life. Gone
Are my honeysuckle trumpeting
Walks in Nature., for now. I have chain link fences, margaritas
At restaurants flanked by flaking brick walls
Of tiki bars. It’s difficult
To feel how God must think of things.
I want to know His thoughts, sometimes.
For that, I know, we have a Book,
But I think of it as an echo.
Is that right or wrong?
There’s a glow on the waves.
The waves are everything that undulates,
And they reflect the divine,
The way mirrors reflect a face.
Part 2: Angel
I know there is something I need to do. Clues
Of missions let me know that angels shift through glints
On aluminum siding, then in larger dreams.
I rely on their singsong magic, their arrow-like harps
That sing sometimes to me when I’m walking in the city,
Then turn my head to see a man with a guitar
Sitting on a park bench.
Part 3: The Divine Has A Sadness To It
The alleyways weep if you listen
To them. There’s a sure lust to the world and its breathing.
Monsters hide behind walls of skulls, mine included.
Hold the bright world in, I think, in my heartbeat’s in-breath.
Feel it like a whole sadness in your flesh. God feels this way
When He holds in the globe and its clouds,
Because He’s sad for us, and because He loves us so much He weeps.
I am heartbroken because the world is a teardrop on God’s cheek.
He holds us so much He is blistering, perhaps. I pray a quiet leap,
Let it go, and fall back into the sea.
Jessica Harman is a poet and fiction writer living in the Boston area. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including, “Bellevue Literary Review,” “Arion,” a Boston University publication, “Nimrod,” “Spillway,” “Stand,” “Tears In The Fence,” and “Rosebud.” Her book of poetry, “Dream Catcher,” is available here, and from Aldrich Press. A second book of poems, “Sky Juice,” is forthcoming from Propaganda Press in the summer of 2013. You may find her on her poetry blog here or facebook here.
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