Friday, February 10, 2012

luci shaw | three wedding poems

for Greg and Andrea

As God, creating, lifted from Adam
the archetypal rib, now, Greg, because you were alone,
he gives to you Andrea, telling you,
“Here. This is your woman, bone of your bone.”

And Andrea, longing for your loving to come true,
remember how the Lord God spoke,
so that a curving, warm bone woke
into a woman--vital, beautiful, and you !

Lord, let now your word leap down again, restore
Eden, and innocence, and say once more
Good! Will you, who made one like yourself,
and from that one made two,
join them in one again?



How like an arch your marriage!
Framed in living stone,
its gothic arrow aimed at heaven,
with Christ (its Capstone and
its Arrowhead) locking
your coupled weakness into one,
the leaning
of two lives into a strength.
So he defines your joining’s length
and width, its archetypal shape. Its meaning
multiplies: the letting in of light,
the opening of your vision to the sight
of new and varied landscapes, planned
but yet to be explored.
A paradox, for you, who stand
today before us--
you who doubly frame this arch--
may now step through
its entrance into the promised land.


Amazed by love

The kinship of woman with man, of water
with stone, is a mystery—the biting of rocks
into the river’s body—the lotion of water like silk
on rough granite—a touch tender and feral,
like the wind combing a green field of oats.

A storm—all the earth trembles, and then is still.
This astonishment, with its sudden thunder,
will shake the breath in your body the way oil
and water shiver together, and when they settle—
a strange new thing, with its pearly light.

To enter the breadth in the joining of two
is to be dazzled—there is so much space in it—
such endless possibility makes you feel smaller than
the ants on a petal, and as wide and rich
as heaven at noon. And the ocean wrapping the world

in its sapphire scarf—at water’s edge, right
at your feet, you will see stones you have
never seen and never will again.
To be amazed by love is not to be blinded but
to let the flare of wonder fill you

like air filling a sail. Isn’t this
the voice of God at work? Even his silence
breathes life into you, a golden sigh as fresh
as Eden. To love someone is not to lose anything,
but to gain it in giving it all away.

illustration by Anton Koberger,
German Bible, 1493

mike mason | the mystery of marriage

It is no secret that there is a heady, breathtaking freedom in love,
but how many realize that the marrying kind is the headiest of all?
In a person about to be married
there is a quality of footloose derailment,
as if an old rusty locomotive had suddenly sprouted wings
and soared away from its tracks.
Being engaged is like
entering a new stage of childhood,
like having a new body,
like being a brand new creature just emerged from a cocoon,
with shining skin not quite dry.
One stumbles around, lumbers, cranes, reels.
And what are those ponderous appendages on one's back,
those preposterous, unwieldy contraptions
that keep lifting one up into the air?

There is an obviousness about true love, a certainty.
To doubt it is to be plunged into darkness and confusion.
But to believe in and accept it is to be filled with light.
There is really nothing else like it.
Few other decisions in life will be anywhere near as crucial
as the decision to love or not to love.
And once made, there can be no reneging.

A marriage is not a joining of two worlds,
but an abandoning of two worlds
so that one new one can be formed.
The call to be married is like Jesus' advice to the rich young man
to sell all his possessions and follow.
It is a vocation to total abandonment.
For most people,
marriage is the single most wholehearted step they will ever take
toward a fulfillment of Jesus' command
to love one's neighbor as oneself.

Make no mistake about it:
the joining of a man and a woman in matrimony
is a supernatural event,
founded upon a mutual exchange of holy pledges –
the only true vows that most people will ever take.
The saying of them requires about thirty seconds.
But keeping them is the work of a lifetime.

illustration by 
William Pène du Bois,
"The Flying Locomotive"

czeslaw milosz | the two of you

Don’t run anymore. Quiet. How softly it rains

On the roofs of the city. How perfect

All things are. Now, for the two of you

Waking up in a royal bed by a garret window.

For a man and a woman. For one plant divided

Into masculine and feminine which longed for each other.

Yes, this is my gift to you. Above ashes

On a bitter, bitter earth. Above the subterranean

Echo of clamorings and vows. So that now at dawn

You must be attentive: the tilt of a head,

A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror

Are only forever once, even if unremembered,

So that you watch what is, though it fades away,

And are grateful every moment for your being.

Let that little park with greenish marble busts

In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle,

Remain as it was when you opened the gate.

And the street of tall peeling porticoes

Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.

Monday, February 06, 2012

milosz | readings

You asked me what is the good of reading the Gospels in Greek.
I answer that it is proper that we move our finger
Along letters more enduring than those carved in stone,
And that, slowly pronouncing each syllable,
We discover the true dignity of speech.
Compelled to be attentive we shall think of that epoch
No more distant than yesterday, though the heads of caesars
On coins are different today. Yet still it is the same eon.
Fear and desire are the same, oil and wine
And bread mean the same. So does the fickleness of the throng
Avid for miracles as in the past. Even mores,
Wedding festivities, drugs, laments for the dead
Only seem to differ. Then, too, for example,
There were plenty of persons whom the text calls
Daimonizomenoi, that is, the demonized
Or, if you prefer, the bedeviled (as for “the possessed”
It’s no more that the whim of a dictionary).
Convulsions, foam at the mouth, the gnashing of teeth
Were not considered signs of talent.
The demonized had no access to print and screens,
Rarely engaging in arts and literature.
But the Gospel parable remains in force:
That the spirit mastering them may enter swine,
Which, exasperated by such a sudden clash
Between two natures, theirs and the Luciferic,
Jump into water and drown (which occurs repeatedly).
And thus on every page a persistent reader
Sees twenty centuries as twenty days
In a world which one day will come to its end.

by Czesław Miłosz
From The Collected Poems 1931-1987 (p. 234)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

david james duncan | president of the world

Personally I’m not sure just who or what Christ is. I still pray to Him in a pinch, but I talk to myself in a pinch too – and I’m getting less and less sure there’s a difference. I used to wish somebody would just tell me what to think about Him. Then along came Elder Babcock, telling and telling, acting like Christ was running for President of the World, and he was His campaign manager, and whoever didn’t get out and vote for the Lord at the polls we call churches by casting the votes we call tithes and offerings into the ballot boxes we call offering plates was a wreched turd of a sinner voting for Satan by default.

Mama tries to clear up all the confusion by saying that Christ is exactly what the Bible says He is. But what does the Bible say He is? On one page He’s a Word, on the next a bridegroom, then He’s a boy, then a scapegoat, then a thief in the night; read on and He’s the messiah, then oops, He’s a rabbi, and then a fraction – a third of a Trinity – then a fisherman, then a broken loaf of bread. I guess even God, when He’s human, has trouble deciding just what He is.

David James Duncan,
The Brothers K