I Realized It Was Poetry
A student was overheard in the Humility of Mary Center delightedly telling her friend: “ . . . and then I realized it was poetry!” The exclamation related to a novel students were reading that links lines from one section to another in a unique poetic form. Although we sometimes tend to avoid poetry as a less apparent form of communication, isn’t the deeper meaning of life about poetry? Doesn’t religion maximize its attempt to articulate something of mystery through poetic language? Religious language incorporates images that convey layers of meaning to try to capture the multiple dimensions of the marvels of reality and the puzzling meanings of life experience.
The psalmist sees through the daily to its rich communications:
Day gives on the Word to day;
Night to night imparts knowledge.
Theirs is not a language that is not understood.
Morning is not morning. Morning is a new beginning. Morning is a gift. Morning is a call to praise. As G. K. Chesterton has said: God is so pleased with the sunrise that every morning God says: Do it again, Sun. Night, so symbolic of spiritual experience: quiet and solitude for communing with God; time to give to the one thing necessary; a mystical image for the darkness of a sense of spiritual absence, of having to abandon what one was sure of about God, about religious experience, about one’s assumed meaning, about knowing for sure.
No wonder when a Sister saw Niagara Falls for the first time, she broke out in song, singing a version of the Magnificat! What powerful poetry: the echoing lines to intensify meanings, the repetitions of language and themes to reinforce ideas, the re-stating of themes in synonymous or contrasting parallelism:
My SOUL proclaims the greatness of the Lord!
My SPIRIT rejoices in God, my Savior.
Who lifts up the lowly;
Who puts down the mighty.
This seems to say that poetry is, indeed, a way of knowing, even a way of being. Is God’s Creation a Poem? Is each person a Poem?
How do we cultivate that “poetic sense” so close to spiritual realities? By letting our imaginations intuit pulsing layers of things, by beholding blessed dimensions of each person.
Dear Poetic God,
may we be open
to the overlays of meaning
in each encounter with Your Creation
and each meeting of one another, Your beloveds.
May we recognize
that today might be a Poem
pointing to You
and give attention to searching
for You in symbolic form.