|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
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.