Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Gods Speak of God

by Stephen Mackey

I'd been thinking about God and I'd been thinking about poetry, and then this poem appeared:

It doesn't interest me if there is one God 
or many gods. 
I want to know if you belong 
or feel abandoned. 
If you know despair or can see it in others. 
I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world 
with its harsh need 
to change you. If you can look back 
with firm eyes 
saying this is where I stand. I want to know 
if you know 
how to melt into that fierce heat of living 
falling toward 
the center of your longing. I want to know 
if you are willing 
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love 
and the bitter 
unwanted passion of your sure defeat. 

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even 
the gods speak of God. 

    —"Self Portrait," by David Whyte  

(I've posted a bit on David Whyte before, when I talked about Irene Belknap's art, so I guess I'm a fan, although every time I encounter his work I think it's the first time I've discovered him. What a wonderful feeling, to keep discovering someone I like.)

When I was thinking about God, I was wondering if I could verbalize what I believed to anyone, and if that someone could accept what I said without needing to hear her own view reflected back to her. So this poem affirms something that I feel deeply, that the question of God isn't as important as all that gets tied up with God, and that God is a word that means something more than God. Thank goodness for poets and poetry; I always feel so relieved to find someone who can artfully say what I feel.

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