Meditations

Emmaues: A Poem by Denise Levertov

Emmaues: A Poem by Denise Levertov

 

She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd,
as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?

Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?

Surely that face—?

The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive?

Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

For reflection in solitude or in the virtual company of others: First, read the scripture story behind Levertov’s poem (and the Velasquez painting) in Luke 24:13-35. Both the artist and the poet have stretched the story to include the servant girl. Following their example, can you stretch your imagination to include yourself? Where would you be? Walking along the road? Seated at another table? Helping in the kitchen? Somewhere else? How would you have reacted when you encountered Jesus?

Note: The poem was sourced from the website “Edge of the Enclosure” maintained by Suzanne Guthrie. Worth a visit!

Snow Storm: A Poem by Marie Howe

“I walked down towards the river, and the deer had left tracks

deep as half my arm, that ended in a perfect hoof

and the shump shump sound my boots made walking made the silence loud.

And when I turned back towards the great house

I walked beside the deer tracks again.

And when I came near the feeder: little tracks of the birds on the surface

     of the snow I’d broken through.

Put your finger here, and see my hands, then bring your hand and put it in my side.

I put my hand down into the deer track

     and touched the bottom of an invisible hoof.

Then my finger in the little mark of the jay.”

For reflection in solitude or in the (virtual) company of others: The poem is set in winter weather, but speaks to the spring-time Easter gospel reading in which the disciple Thomas touches the risen Jesus, and believes. How are Thomas’ experience and the poet’s experience similar? How are they different? How have you come to trust that the Resurrection is real, and true?

Truth and Love

Truth and Love

Rowan Williams, contemporary theologian and former Archbishop of Canterbury, said this: “Truth makes love possible; love makes truth bearable.”

For reflection in solitude or in the (virtual) company of others: Sit with Williams’ words for awhile (they are simple but not easy). If words or images come to you, perhaps try writing or drawing them — see what emerges! What story could you tell about the relationship between love and truth in your own life?

History, Theology and Truth: Reflections by Jon Meacham

History, Theology and Truth: Reflections by Jon Meacham

From acclaimed historian Jon Meacham’s “Hope of Glory”:

‘History is what happened in time and space. Theology can be understood as what people think history means in relation to a presumed order beyond time and space. History is horizontal, theology vertical, and their intersection is a motive force behind our religious, national and personal imaginations. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we love, and how we live are furnished and fixed by the factual and the fabled. History and theology are inextricably bound up with each other, and together, I submit, they create truth. Fact is what we can discern; truth is the larger significance of what we extrapolate from those facts.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: How does Meacham’s analysis accord with your own understanding of the relationship between history and truth? As you hear, tell, and pray the scriptural stories of Jesus’ risen life this Easter season, how does Meacham’s enrich and enliven your experience?

Gethsemane: A Poem by Mary Oliver

Gethsemane: A Poem by Mary Oliver

 

The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.
Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.
The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.
Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did,
maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move, maybe
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.
Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

(icon written by Julia Stankova)

For reflection in solitude or in the (virtual!) company of others: Watching. Waiting. Companionship. Presence. Absence. Fear. Love. Which of these Gethsemane words reflects your relationship with your dearest ones this Holy Week?