Tag Archives: Jessica Powers

The Days of Genesis

The days that unfold in the Book of Genesis we’re reading this week get ever more complex. First, there’s God, then light and water paving the way for a host of new things, non-living and living. Finally, we humans enter the picture. A complex, changing world it is, day by day.

Jessica Powers, a Carmelite nun and poet, wrote about our experience of that world– “Song At Daybreak”

This morning on the way

that yawns with light across the eastern sky

and lifts its bright arms high –

It may bring hours disconsolate or gay,

I do not know, but this much I can say:

It will be unlike any other day.

 

God lives in his surprise and variation.

No leaf is matched, no star is shaped to star.

No soul is like my soul in all creation

though I may search afar.

There is something -anquish or elation-

that is peculiar to this day alone.

I rise from sleep and say: Hail to the morning!

Come down to me, my beautiful unknown.

“My Beautiful unknown”. Our world is beautiful, but unknown, surprising, with variations that bring “anguish or elation.” Religious people should acknowledge this, since they believe in a surprising God, but unfortunately we can make God too small. We “think like humans do.” We only think so far.

Pope Francis is taking some flack for a statement on religious freedom he made jointly with the Grand Iman of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi last week: “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”

“Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”

“Religious indifferentism” some say, but is it just acknowledging the world the Book of Genesis describes? Our common home is complex, “willed by God in His wisdom.”

The Genesis account and the rest of the Bible deserve a search for their wisdom. I know there’s a new story that science tells, but Genesis and the Bible were there first.They have a story too.

The Homelessness of Faith

“When Paul had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.”

As the gospel spread to all nations, we seldom see scenes in the scriptures like Paul’s farewell to the presbyters at Ephesus, described in our reading for today, but there must have been others like it. Peter biding farewell to his family at Capernaum; James and John parting from the mother who wanted so much for them; others who left the places and people they knew for the sake of the gospel. Goodbyes are hard, even when they happen for noble purposes.

There’s a homelessness in every human life. The Carmelite poet, Jessica Powers describes it so well in one of her poems:

“It is the homelessness of the soul in the body sown

it is the loneliness of mystery;

of seeing oneself a leaf, inexplicable and unknown

cast from an unimaginable tree;

of knowing one’s life to be a brief wind blown

down a fissure of time in the rock of eternity.”

This is the homelessness that touches us all, even as we believe.

The elders of Ephesus would miss Paul who had been with them for three years and become part of their life, and he would miss them. The disciples of Jesus at the Last Supper must have been touched as he told them he was going away. They had to feel loss.

Only the promise of a spiritual union and a homecoming tempered their sense of loss. Only the promise of reunion of another day.