Maria and GK

MariaPoet

Maria

The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits. — GK Chesterton

My daughter Maria shared this quote with me two weeks ago after her teacher had read it to the girls in class. He read it to them in response to some of the questions various students were asking as they struggled with certain aspects of the faith “not making sense.” My daughter said:

He told us there are some things that are beyond our ability to fully grasp, not because they’re illogical, but because they’re… [bad habit: I excitedly finished her sentence, saying, “…Right! They’re because part of a whole different kind of logic]. …Yeah, right. So, he said faith gives a different way of thinking. And then he said you just can’t “get” some things about our faith unless you first just “give in” and believe them. [Bad habit 2: “Yeah, it’s like unlocking a door with a key that lets you in on something you could never have understood if you didn’t first take the key…faith…]. …Yeah. So, anyway, it was pretty cool.

His point was very St. Augustine-esque: “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.” Credo ut intelligam.

I am so grateful he is her teacher!

My daughter is an artist who thinks artfully, in color, in poetry and music, so it made so much sense just how easy it was for her to get his point. Poetic imagination dares you to jump off the cliff of faith, into a new world that transcends raw sense data. Not to fall down into some irrational ocean, full of blind credence, but to fall up into the supra-rational heavens. Faith is above, never against reason, lifting the mind far beyond its native powers into its own field of evidence (Hebrews 11:1).

Just as only the lover knows how to sing, only the poet knows how to pray, since prayer is the act of lifting your mind and heart to God who is the fountain of limitless beauty. And we are His poem (Ephesians 2:10, “…for we are His poiēma…”). Prayer unveils for pray-ers a cosmos that is a vast, sprawling Burning Bush. Prayer alone renders the world a sacrament.

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree. — Joseph Mary Plunkett

If you wish to see, dare to pray.

In my experience, those who make the most theatrical display of demanding “proof” of God are also those least willing to undertake the specific kinds of mental and spiritual discipline that all the great religious traditions say are required to find God. If one is left unsatisfied by the logical arguments for belief in God, and instead insists upon some “experimental” or “empirical” demonstration, then one ought to be willing to attempt the sort of investigations necessary to achieve any sort of real certainty regarding a reality that is nothing less than the infinite coincidence of infinite being, consciousness and bliss. In short, one must pray: not fitfully, not merely in the manner of a suppliant seeking aid or of a penitent seeking absolution but also according to the disciplines of infused contemplation, real constancy of will and a patient openness to grace…no one is obliged to make such an effort; but, unless one does, any demands one might make for evidence of the reality of God can safely be dismissed as disingenuous, and any arguments against belief in God that one might have the temerity to make to others can be safely ignored. — David Bentley Hart

A final poem.

It’s by Yeats and is called The Stolen Child. It places the imagination in that terribly fraught space between childhood innocence and the harshness of a world “full of weeping.” A friend of mine wrote a song based on this poem and sang it for my children when he came to visit our home once last year. As I closed my eyes as he sang, and as I listened, I found myself joining with Nicodemus’ conundrum in John 3:4: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” With such poetry, it seems, one can.

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

 

6 comments on “Maria and GK

  1. Jennifer says:

    We are his poem!? A-ha!
    Beautiful post, my thanks to Maria for inspiring and contributing to it.

  2. nos says:

    The look is killing me ,so Pattiesque +++++++ methinks we have another kneal… doctah that is … good job Patti 3,3,3. Thomas good job … P.B.W.Y.A.A. the jew clan …

  3. trudymm says:

    My goodness, the original Joseph Mary Plunkett poem instigated the poetic salivation process, which is now raging in full force. This is what the Holy Spirit is giving me. The stand alone poem above is excellent, and my add on is just the “tails” side of the coin.

    JMP=I see his blood upon the rose
    Tmm =Bright as it was at the Crucifixion, profusely running down His nose

    JMP=And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
    Tmm= Where pain & sorrow can truly find a disguise

    JMP=His body gleams amid eternal snows,
    Tmm= Because of the grace that overwhelmingly there flows

    JMP = His tears fall from the skies
    Tmm= Just like those at Calvary which glistened from His Blessed Mother Mary’s dear eyes

    JMP=I see his face in every flower;
    Tmm = And imagine at work His grand & glorious Divine power

    JMP=The thunder and the singing of the birds
    Tmm = Produces almost the same kind of thrill as when listening to His spoken words

    JMP=Are but his voice—and carven by his power
    Tmm = Praise the Lord for the gift of seeing every God given day and hour

    JMP = Rocks are his written words
    Tmm= Just as amazing & interesting as uniquely prepared Hors d’oeuvres

    JMP=All pathways by his feet are worn,
    Tmm= For that, great graces for us are constantly being born

    JMP= His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
    Tmm = So captivating and ever intriguing to me

    JMP= His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
    Tmm = What suffering & anguish He withstood for all people, so none we should never ever scorn

    JMP =His cross is every tree
    Tmm = Standing as a witness to what He painfully suffered & endured to set us all free

    JMP– Joseph Mary Plunkett

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