Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Advent: "Darkness and Death Take Different Forms in Every Generation, But the Challenge of Gathering the Forces of Light and Love to Oppose Them Remains the Same"

An Advent offering for you, continuing the themes of the meditation I posted yesterday: illuminations from many different books and poems I've read over many years, and have recorded in my quotation log: 

Karen Armstrong, Spiral Staircase (NY: Random House, 2004):

Perhaps in our broken world, we can only envisage an absent God. Since September 11, I have found myself drawn to the powerful mythology of the Jewish Kabbalah, which imagines God as originally a sacred emptiness; sees creation as a massive error, the world shattered and dense with evil; and offers no easy solution.  . . . The events of September 11 were a dark epiphany, a terrible revelation of what life is like if we do not recognize the sacredness of all human beings, even our enemies. Maybe the only revelation we can hope for now is an experience of absence and emptiness. We have seen too much religious certainty recently (p. 303).

Henry David Thoreau, Walden:

I believe that men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung, and Christianity and candles have been introduced (unpaginated; from the chapter entitled "Solitude").

Katherine Anne Porter, as cited in Joan Givner, Katherine Anne Porter: A Life (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1982):

We are groping around in the dark, like in a cellar, with only the feeble flame of our reason to aid us.  nd along comes the theologian and blows out the light ( p. 258; Givner cites Herbert Klein, who recounted the statement to her, indicating that Porter said it to a friend this to Givner).

Rainer Maria Rilke, "A Book for the Hours of Prayer," in Selected Poems of Rainier Maria Rilke, trans. And ed. Robert Bly (NY: Harper and Row, 1981):

Yet no matter how deeply I go down into myself
my God is dark, and like a webbing made
of a hundred roots, that drink in silence.
I know that my trunk rose from his warmth, but that’s all
because my branches hardly move at all
near the ground, and just wave a little in the wind (p. 15).

Paul Scott,  Raj Quartet, vol. 2: The Day of the Scorpion (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1968):

Perhaps, she thought, I am no longer in darkness, perhaps there is light and I have entered it. But she did not know what light exactly, nor what entering it would have laid on her by way of obligations (p. 205). 

Theodore Roethke, "O, Thou Opening, O," in The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (NY: Knopf Doubleday, 2011): 

The dark has its own light (p. 94).  

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul (NY: HarperCollins, 1992):

Hiding the dark places results in a loss of soul; speaking for them and from them offers a way toward genuine community and intimacy (p. 148).

William Least Heat Moon, Prairy Erth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991):

Certain kinds of writing and dreaming are intertwining things, like wild grapevine up the trunk of the plum tree: from the same dark soil, different fruits (p. 238)

Masnavi Rumi, "The Many Wines," in The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems, trans. Coleman Barks (NY Harper, 2002):

Beg for an inner occupation that will ally you with others doing the inner work.  Find the wine most suitable for you. God has given us a dark wine so potent that, drinking it, we leave the two worlds (p.  351).

Linda Hogan, The Woman Who Watches Over the World (NY: W.W. Norton, 2001):

Opening the eyes is the job of storytellers, witnesses, and the keepers of accounts. The stories we know and tell are reservoirs of light and fire that brighten and illuminate the darkness of human night, the unseen. They throw down a certain slant of light across the floor each morning, and they throw down, also, its shadow (pp. 113-4).

Marilynne Robinson, "Wondrous Love," in When I Was a Child I Read Books (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012).

The great narrative, to which we as Christians are called to be faithful, begins at the beginning of all things and ends at the end of all things, and within the arc of it civilizations blossom and flourish, wither and perish. This would seem a great extravagance, all the beautiful children of earth lying down in a final darkness. But no, there is that wondrous love to assure us that the world is more precious than we can possibly imagine.  

No comments: