As Fall approaches, my thoughts turn toward haiku. Here is a watercolor piece I commissioned Joan Kluba of Paper Birds to do to illustrate four haiku I wrote to liken the seasons to the life of Christ and the church. Yeah, it is kind of abstract and high-concept, but it works in my head and I was very pleased with the watercolor as well. Click on the image for a larger version on my Flickr account.
in murky depths a
body lies a mouldering;
all the perfumes of the land
cannot clean stained hands
it cannot yet be that sea,
Also, though I am not a Catholic and so do not know exactly what to make of this author’s mention of the beatification of John Paul II on the same day that Osama Bin Laden died, I do appreciate his articulation of the Christian teaching on justice and forgiveness, especially as he personally witnessed the horrors of 911 and ministered to its victims.
now the sod is like
patchwork from grandma’s quilts; you
sleeping till the day
Fall has pungency
Like nard. Summer’s fullness crushed
Anoints the late year.
Winter has the scent
Of absence. Nothing. Death. Life.
Shrouded under snow.
Spring is memory.
Fragrance from a walled garden
Calls to the lover.
Summer will not end.
Here at this wedding: wine, bower
Evermore and more.
Please permit another set of haiku-a reprint even, in this case. The pictures will return; I have, in any case, taken some within the last week at least.
I know that poetry should generally be offered sans commentary, but, alas, sometimes I cannot help myself. This set of haiku attempts to map the four seasons to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, with a look forward to the joys of the new creation. In the last two haiku, it also tries to allude to rich sensory images from the the Song of Solomon, which, among other things, is a metaphorical telling of Christ’s inloveness* with his church, his bride.
To be quite honest, even before my father died last week, I have been, and am more or less, in the winter haiku, under the dark drifts of naturalism and doubt, where its seems as if this world and all its toil is all there is and after that…nothing.
And, yet, in better moments, my heart still longs for Spring and Summer after that-for goodness to fill the earth, for justice to reign, for suffering to end, for relationships to be healed, for true understanding between people to arrive, for me to be a whole and true person. It could be that these longings are an anomaly in a meaningless world, but, following C.S. Lewis, I am hoping their absurd existence in the teeth of the temptation to despair means that their fulfillment also really exists.
I want to believe that my father and my mother are…will be. That my father understands the things that knit his heart with sorrow over the last 2 decades of his life. That he now beholds my mother once again, not as his long mourned for wife, but as a strong, beautiful sister. That they can relish their particular shared piece of God’s creative and redemptive work equally along with a billion other pieces. I want to believe that in the light of the Eternal Day, that I am with them, too, at that wedding feast, tasting the wine.
*“Inloveness” is a phrase I borrowed from Sheldon Vanauken’s wonderful A Severe Mercy which I am rereading and which is about many of the themes of this post, including loss and a longing for heaven.
and calls; each speed home the same
the news of dying
A friend of mine passed along this article to me as my local church community recently experienced the death of a friend and some of our grieving was expressed via Facebook. Our friend did not have a Facebook profile himself, as the very popular girl in the article did, so we did not have that dynamic with which to interact. Also, even though I waited for a good while before breaking the news on Facebook, there were some people who did hear the news via Facebook or email. I am afraid that though that is unfortunate, as the medium does not feel weighty enough to bear or perhaps even deserve the carrying of such news, this is likely an unavoidable reality of our times, just like letters or newspapers or telegraphs or or telephones or radio or television were bearers of such news in other times.
If you notice the progression of media in the last sentence of the previous paragraph (save for newspapers), the technology allows broadcast to more and more people over time. Now the interesting thing with the Internet in general, and social networking media in particular, is that 1) not only the very famous now can have news of their death broadcast to many people (even though newspaper obits did this to some degree), but 2) that many of the people to whom it is broadcast can respond and their responses become part of the broadcast itself. Of course this dynamic is at the center of social media itself and, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. And yet with such personal thoughts broadcast so widely, it should give us such pause with how such communication shapes us and our collective life, yes even our way of being human in some ways.
This line of thinking is similar to an article I just wrote, but is more focused. Now, I am not a Luddite or tremendously old, but still I bring to electronic communication conventions and courtesies learned before its advent. I am very curious to know how new conventions and courtesies are developing amongst those who have always, so to speak, swum in this media. I certainly hope such courtesies do develop, and yet I suspect that any given persons development of these will be, as always, dependent on what they learned in that other little social network, their family, and yet even that network itself cannot help but be influenced by these new media and networks.
At any rate, before I philosophically wandered off, I was commending this article to you. It is a good one.
Click here for “The Clarity of Windows I.”
death sharpens the nub
of life for writing full-stops.
our words more clearly
full-stop is all. then
another then another