Still Center

Even in the midst of Eastertide, I need to stop sometimes 
and reflect on what the Incarnation means to us frail folk.
This is a statue new to the retreat center I have just visited. Seeing it out there, in the middle of a small lake,
I was struck by the wonder of it all.
Here are some lovely words from two of my favorite poets that help me find my own words somehow.
May your weekend be blessed with wonder
and with rest.
Descent by Luci Shaw
Down he came from up,
and in from out,
and here from there.
A long leap,
an incandescent fall
from magnificent
to naked, frail, small,
through space,
between stars,
into our chill night air,
shrunk, in infant grace,
to our damp, cramped
earthy place
among all
the shivering sheep.
And now, after all,
there he lies,
fast asleep.
 On the Mystery of the Incarnation  
by Denise Levertov
It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word. 
 Joining the quiet communities at Sandra Heska King’s and Deidra Riggs’ sites. They gently invite us to prepare for worship by centering and quieting ourselves. Wise women, these.

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  1. Joanne Norton says

    Nice sharing.  And the statue is wonderful.  How will we ever truly know what they went through?  We can read it, but never truly see it and know what they were saying to each other as they walked along that long stretch of road.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Joanne, and for your good and thoughtful words. Lovely weekend to you.

  3. I’m not familiar with Denise, but I think I’d like to know her. Loved hearing Luci share her poetry and share in conversation last week. You always speak such peace and encouragement to me in your own words and the words of others.

  4. I love Denise’s stuff and highly recommend it. Here’s some stuff from Wikipedia about her:

    “When she was five years old she declared she would be a writer. At the age of 12, she sent some of her poems to T. S. Eliot,
    who replied with a two-page letter of encouragement. In 1940, when she was 17, Levertov published her first poem.”

    She moved to America when she married (born in Britain) later divorced and taught at several major universities. Daughter of an Hasidic Jew who converted to Christianity, she wrote an interesting combo of flaming political poetry and searching spiritual stuff. Here’s another paragraph:
    “From a very young age Levertov was influenced by her religion, and when she began writing it was a major theme in her poetry. Through her father she was exposed to both Judaism and Christianity. Levertov always believed that her culture and her family roots had inherent value to herself and her writing. Furthermore, she believed that she and her sister had a destiny pertaining to this.When Levertov moved to the United States, she fell under the influence of the Black Mountain Poets, especially the mysticism of Charles Olson . She drew on the experimentation of Ezra Pound and the style of William Carlos
    but was also exposed to the
    Transcendentalism of
    Thoreau and Emerson. Although all these factors shaped her poetry, her
    conversion to Christianity in 1984 was the main influence on her religious
    writing. Sometime shortly after her move to Seattle in 1989, she became a Roman
    Catholic . In 1997, she
    brought together 38 poems from seven of her earlier volumes in *The Stream
    & the Sapphire*, a collection intended, as Levertov explains in the
    foreword to the collection, to “trace my slow movement from agnosticism to
    Christian faith, a movement incorporating much doubt and questioning as
    well as affirmation.” “

  5. Thanks for this, Diana. Can you imagine getting a 2-page letter of encouragement from the likes of T.S. Eliot? 

  6. Yeah – that one got me, too. And no, I cannot imagine it!

  7. Seeing the statues in that setting brings life to them and a fresh perspective to the journey they took. And the poems? It’s hard to explain why poetry affects us, but it does. The words are freed to be more than vessels of communication. They transport us to unusual places and make us think in unexpected ways… in ways that prose can’t quite equal. At least my prose can’t!

    Blessings to you this weekend, Diana.

  8. Oh, yes….the wonder of it all!!!  Thank you for this, Diana. xox

  9. We have a statue just like that outside our new church fellowship hall, dedicated to the Holy Family.

  10. Yes, Carol, it does. On a walk around grounds that I thought were completely familiar, I was startled to see this statue this year. And I carried it around with me the rest of the time I was there. Somehow, it needed poetry around it to help communicate the mystery and wonder of it all!

    Megan – if you see this here it’s because for some reason your comment is not showing on the blog itself. I got notice of it through blogger, but not through disqus. this happened yesterday to a comment, too, and I have no idea why. But – thanks for stopping by – and someday maybe I’ll see that statue in your setting. Who knows?

  11. You are welcome, Patricia. Thanks for stopping by here. And I’m really hoping you will share with us how you got that spectacular collage of flower photos on your post this weekend. Oh, my – glorious!

  12. Filled with to the brim with ponderings.

  13. Hello there – nice to see your name here…yes – full to the brim.

  14. Aleta Schrock Ellsworth says

    Beautiful poems.

  15. Thanks, Aleta. And thanks for dropping by.

  16. I love Luci Shaw and haven’t read Denise Levertov since I took an independent study class in college!  Wow!  Her name instantly brought me back to a small bookstore, old and dark and dusty, where I finally found the small volumes the professor and I had outlined for the course.  Thank you for wonderful words to wonder about this weekend and an instant trip back across the years.  Bless you, Diana!  

  17. pastordt says

    You are more than welcome, Cindee. Glad you found something here to bring back good memories!

  18. Such a lovely quiet place you’ve provided here, Diana. The photos are beautiful, and love reading more of Luci Shaw–who is from our neck of the woods in Western Washington. I need to read Denise as I’ve not read anything of hers before.