Saturday, October 24, 2015

Delivery: Exquisite "Oneings"

My humanities class this semester required a creativity project. The teacher wanted us to create using a medium we aren't used to using. Poetry is a new medium I've used only twice and with no formal training, so I chose that. I felt to put more thought into the structure and words of the poem shared here in July and completely reworked it. (I'll post the new version below.) As I've spent more time with the poem, I've realized:

On a micro level this poem relates a personal experience unique to my life, but on a macro level I see it now as a symbol of our universal struggle of shedding the ego--even a form of ego as seemingly innocuous as wanting what we think God wants for us (to do or be). A favorite essay by CS Lewis, Weight of Glory, states with powerful imagery: 
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak... like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
This shedding of the ego and trusting God's ways and goals is often referred to as a rebirth; giving our life to God, being changed by God. Through the experience related in the following poem, my perspective of what spiritual rebirth must feel like or look like has changed. It is no longer a culminating event that ends a process. It is many moments of delivery--exquisite and costly threads--that God weaves together, changing the fabric of our lives thread by thread. 

I no longer see delivery as getting what we want, or being delivered from what we don't want. I see it as engaging in a journey where we become a child--a child who struggles through the narrow mazes and trials of life seeking their God (like a baby's journey through the birth canal seeking it's source of life).
When we emerge, we find our lonely desert has become the garden of the Lord (Isaiah 51:3). It is like the moment of birth when a mother's agony is turned to joy (John 16:21), or perhaps more accurately, as a baby must feel after such a journey of struggle and sorrow that quickly turns exquisitely sweet because of the embrace from those hands "stretched out still" that have "caught us" as we emerge, embraced us, at-oned with us. 

I've quoted it here before, but it deserves a repeat, at least in part: 
We are aware that all our mothers give us birth only to pain and dying; and what is it but that our true Mother Jesus, He--all love--gives us birth to joy and to endless life. Blessed may He be! Thus He carries us within Himself in love, and labors until full term so that He could suffer the sharpest throes and the hardest birth pains that ever were or ever shall be, and die at the last. And when He had finished, and so given us birth to bliss, not even all this could satisfy His wondrous love.

Again, I am learning that rebirth appears to be moments of struggle, sometimes as intense as child birth, followed by equally exquisite "oneings" with the Lord. And I imagine the supreme goal of existence as an eternity of that at-one-ment with God; that fullness of joy in their presence. 

The atonement is not a commodity. It is not an event long ago that somehow affects us now. It is a divine being; our Savior, full of infinite love and wisdom whose actions and love make it possible to have a relationship with him. A relationship which, if we choose to nourish, will slowly align us and change us to become more and more like him. And the reason? Not so we can achieve some commodity (eternal life of riches, power etc.). He loves us into the kind of person he is so that he can be with us for eternity in a celestial glory full of celestial beings who don't have to hold anything back. They can give us all of their self without such intense Light and Glory harming us because of how Christ’s love has prepared us and slowly recreated us to be like them. I believe thats what is meant by John when he says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

Before I paste the poem below, I'm going to be lazy and not remove the numbers in parentheses. To give the poem some unity and structure, I decided to use a kind of numeric symbolism in the lines and stanzas. This being titled "Labor and Delivery," the number nine is significant. So is seven, as a number of creation. So is four as a number symbolizing strength and truth. So are ascending and descending numbers (and the numbers they start and end with). I put the numbers into the poem for the paper I had to write about the creativity process for my class. I imagine it might be helpful for some to leave them here. 

Lastly, I would leave you with one more thought. When we wonder why God has not yet given us desires we consider to be righteous or that we believe are according to his will, perhaps we should consider what C.S. Lewis suggests: our desires are "too weak." To have a husband or wife, a good job, children or more children, to be healed, to have others see us truthfully, to be at peace--all these desires pale in comparison, or are actually encapsulated and fulfilled in what the Lord wants to give us: at-one-ment with Himself. So he works gradually, knowing "as the poet recognized, sometimes, God’s grace, like light, “must dazzle gradually, or every eye be blind.'" (Emily Dickinson, quoted here) 

Labor and Delivery


Severing pain asks a sacrifice. (9)
Needles, tubes, sterile sheets, monitors: (9)
breathless upon the altar, I writhe.  (9)

For me, there is no ram in (7)
the thicket. No angel (6)
stops the knife that stabs (5)
three times and steals (4)
the soul—all (3)
labors: (2)
lost. (1)

Eyes are open, heart raw, but beating. (9)
Salty tears flow too freely for a (9)
disconnected womb--oh! Dear Father! (9)

Why lead me by miracles (7)
to the Red Sea shore’s edge (6)
and part the waters (5)
as I walk through (4)
only to (3)
let hope (2)
drown? (1)

Bitter. Left at the foot of dead ends, (9)
anger opens in this closing heart. (9)
I cannot choose: a false god; no God. (9)

There is a God— (4)
I've heard Him weep. (4)
I know His pow’r: (4)
enabling grace. (4)
By Light we live, (4)
By Him we're changed. (4)

Impossible maze! I cannot choose: (9)
an indifferent God; a cruel God. (9)

He called to me; (4)
Woke me; asked me: (4)
“Open the door.” (4)
He provided, (4)
assured, sustained; (4)
soothed each loss… (4)

Yet now life’s open door must (7)
sever from its hinges? (6)
Now, He let’s life stray— (5)
lets life bulge, bleed, (4)
burst—‘till they (3)
stitch it (2)
shut? (1)

Then call me Mara, for today I (9)
choose to see the bitter hand dealt me. (9)

While friends and family choose (7)
to call me blessed... and oh! (7)

The words they send, (4)
the meals they bring, (4)
the gifts that come: (4)
prints to color, (4)
Boxes to hit, (4)
Roses, posies, (4)
daisies, lilies, (4)
books, texts, posts, hugs. (4)

What was emptied, (4)
they seek to fill. (4)

lights off
eyes shut
head down
heavy sleep
let me sleep
in sleep
no dreams
to think
no thoughts
of life

while… (1)
without, (2)
children live; (3)
by my side their (4)
voices call and hands (5)
caress, lips kiss, hearts care, (6)
and all their eyes are watching. (7)

And so I wake (4)
my mind’s desire (4)
to understand— (4)
write what I know, (4)
ask all I don’t (4)
And oh! The Light (4)
rushes in with (4)
a choice revealed: (4)

It was not a loss. 
It was a birth:
of sorrow and pain,
grief and anguish
now remembered no more...


... for joy that the impossible maze (9)
widens and opens as a child (8)
sobs into the Light caught by (7)
Hands stretched out still embraced (6)
by Love and nourished (5)
by unspoken (4)
Words of Life. (3)