Friday, 5 December 2008

Wordsmith (for Benj)

Thou most splendid wordsmith be
and let thine art like filigree
of silver light upon the page
shine unto the ending of this Age.
And so render praise to Him, the One
Who escapes all words, is said by none,
yet in the single Word is spoken.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Signs of Premature Fuddy-Duddiness & Eccentricity

  1. During a film, when the soundtrack includes a snippet of Vivaldi, you immediately know what concerto it is, and also know that Bach made a transcription of it for the organ. Which, incidentally, you prefer.
  2. When people complain about political drama, you often respond : "Well, from the perspective of the first century ...".
  3. Looking up a word in the dictionary is no longer considered sufficient until the etymology is researched as well.
  4. If somebody uses the word "argument" and "conclusion" unreflectingly on an internet forum, you reply with a three page essay detailing why their argument leads to the collapse of civilization.
  5. You do on occasion mispronounce words. But only because in the original language of the word, an English pronunciation would have been implausible.
  6. You've been in a car accident because at the time you were engrossed in a dispute about Platonic political theory. With yourself.
  7. A popular history series offends you, not because of the unnecessary lewd scenes, but because of the historical inaccuracies.
  8. "Modern" means anything from the mid-sixteenth century onwards.

Memorystricken

Nostalgia, like a cold fire, cuts open
eternity in my depths, and I
bleed my merry moments like blossoms
upon a frozen wind, before the Dawn rises.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Startled and Amazed

I realized today, with a sudden and unassumed simplicity, that there has not been one moment in my life, not one section in the entire vista of my experience, that I can point to, saying: "Here I suffered without consolation".This so shines in my consciousness now that I cannot with conviction utter: "I have suffered", for pure suffering is unknown to me. No ill has passed through my life without good coming from it.

This is no new revelation. It is written: "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the trial he will also provide the manner of escape so that you can endure it.". And again: "All things work together for the good of those who love God". Did not Mother Julian of Norwich also say, in her Revelations of Divine Love : "All shall be well, and all shall be well. All manner of things shall be well" ?

I knew these things; They were written upon my understanding, in the manner of a scribe copying a parchment he does not understand, imitating the marks and signs. But now, ah now,they have caught flame; They live in my breast with the lightness of the laughter of the saints.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Porta

gate within gate
the thousand-pillared halls of the self:

yield to the seeker, the one who searches!
yield to the beginning,
the passing, the everlasting now!
yield to the coming, the going,
the self-surpassing pilgrimage!

yield to Being,
and be.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Lesson #233 of the Inner Life

The pursuit of virtue does not begin tomorrow.
Nor does it begin when you are devout.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Precipice

all things have led here
to You, the Abyss, the final choice,
the ultimate reality,
the razorblade of existence.

meaninglessness laps at my feet,
but i ignore the cold,
warmed by the cold of probability
and the madness of Divine Excess.

the breath before the plunge is this:
let me be, O One Who Is.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Two Responses to the South African Xenophobic Attacks Crisis

The Inner:

Until the hearts of men are turned to the Father in the Son by the Spirit, blood will not cease to wet the earth where their proud and selfish feet are planted. Nation will lift up sword against a nation, and peace shall not cover the earth. How can it be otherwise if we despise all others as a transgression upon our rights and needs?

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

The Outer:

Had the government declared Zimbabwe a crisis situation, and accordingly prepared Domestic Affairs, we could have better handled the vast influx that is now happening regardless, albeit unregulated and vastly chaotic. Had we done that, we could even have appealed to the international community to assist with refugee camps and handling.

But no. Ideology and stubbornness has brought us here, and the weapons of the mobs and the burnings of the victims are only the other side of the coin of governmental indifference and apathy.

Background Articles:

http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2325706,00.html
http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=2935&art_id=vn20080519054446281C325213
http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=2935&art_id=iol1211142740501X532
http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20080518082610756C405049
http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2325090,00.html
http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=3045&art_id=vn20080519112437748C450286
http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2324966,00.html
http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=2935&art_id=vn20080519054119742C540915

Monday, 5 May 2008

Lightstricken

you wound me with the beauties
you scatter seemingly absent-mindedly
across the tattered quilt of my life
(turn but a stone and stir a silver-bladed wing)

why do you wound me so
and not slay me outright?
i cannot bear wounds when i am not true
nor gifts when i am false

every horizon, every splendid-coloured vista
in the soul, burns as it cuts
to the quick between soul and sinew

why do you wound me with your face
when i do not seek it any more?

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Unheeded Warnings

I play a very large and popular MMORPG with a group of acquaintances and friends, largely European, and mostly Dutch. Becoming more involved and known, I listened recently to a conference conversation, while playing, which turned to the subject of religion. Without the slightest change in momentum, statements were made along the lines that all non-empiric beliefs are ulimately no more worthy of attention than the tricks of stage magicians, the Crusades were as bad as the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and that bringing up a child in any form of faith is a form of abuse.

During the conversation itself I was (uncharacteristically, unfortunately) quiet, being shocked in disproportion to the sentiments expressed. I was profoundly disturbed. Here was a group of intelligent modern youths spouting forth the most ridiculous sentiments, equating any system of metaphysics with tomfoolery, radical militant extremism with a territorial war (admittedly badly waged), and giving a child a view of reality (some form of which they must be given if they are to make sense of their existence) with abuse. That they commmitted such philosophical and historical faults was not the origin of my unease and shock, but that their comments, phrasing, and the general tenor of the conversation was that of a deliberately self-delighted schadenfreude in the loss of faith. It seemed that, for these individuals, a loss of any form of belief is a salutary thing.

Notice: not the rejection of one belief for another that is more coherent and truthful, nor the rejection of belief because of a careful judgement on its veracity, but a flat unconsidered denial without reflection. And how they exulted in this, wallowing in crass superiority as if mindlessly flowing with the modern currents of opinion lifted them above the unthinking masses towards the light and glories of the Modern Unbiased Man!

Now I cannot bring myself to pass judgement on them individually. No doubt many of them have suffered harm in some way that sours to the concept of belief. However, their patterns of thought show forth that radical secularism that the Holy Father has so extensively and profoundly written about, and engaged.

I had read before the Pope's warnings about the fundamental underpinnings of this secularism, and its widespread nature in Europe, but I must admit I thought this was rather plain "Vaticano-speak", couched in the necessary generalities of journalism. However, after experiencing it at its fount, I find his warnings both prudent and alarming. I have not listened closely enough. Similarly, all the towering and thundering warnings about bio-ethics the past few years from Rome had begun to sound rather repetitive, until the recent debacle of animal-human hybrids. Now the constant vigil of Rome in saying "what can be done, should not always be done" is frighteningly apt.

Silentium Plenitudio Verbis

i fear the Silence for it reveals me to myself.
i fear the Silence for it allows me no illusions.
i fear the Silence for my incompetencies would drown me.
i fear the Silence as i fear the very Hand of God.

yet it was in Silence that He was conceived,
in Silence that He rose.
and it is Silence that whispers:

"all is fleeting. God alone suffices"

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Nai hiruvalyë Valimar (vir D)

jy was nog altyd eksoties,
met jou siel so kenmerkend
soos die vars diep reuk van groentee.

hoe lank het ek jou nie beny nie,
my lewe skuins op jou eie gemeubeleur,
hartstogtelik die omvang van jou andersheid
soos 'n kleed om my laat val, beskermend.

ons was nog altyd op die oog af
onafskeidbaar : selfs na die skeiding
tussenbeide getree het, so onafwendbaar
soos die die weer op 'n klam somersmiddag.

miskien het ons te lank oor die heinings
van ons hygings en ambisies
die ander se siel bespeur, bekyk,
vir lekplekkies en gate
waardeur die wind treurend waai

Aai! Siel so glinsterend,waar het jy verdwaal?
waar het ek jou met my geskel verloor?
in watter diep dreunend woude
het jy jouself oorgegee aan hierdie wanhoop,
hierdie bitter alleenheid?

as ek jou net kon vind,
maar my sandale druis oor die duine,
en die dieper woestyn roep.

hier skei ons, vriend, hier skei ons.

mag ons paaie uitereinde Een word.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Cor Contritum et Humiliatum

The theme of a holy brokenness is something our generation struggles to understand, having been too long fed with triumphalist views of the world where Christ is not beheld crucified, but Risen-and-Ready like the deus ex machina in one's own personal play. My own religious youth was awash with this folly, and I know too many acquaintances that have since slid into religious indifference because they encountered their brokenness and could not comprehend it, could not grasp it in their hearts and yet live. They could not find Christ in it, they could not see Him there, they could not understand how this can be a part of their spiritual pilgrimage. So they abandoned it, like so much else.

Holy brokenness comes about when you face your weaknesses, know them to be, and can face them in the Light of Christ.

The Plain and Rather Dull-Seeming Odour of Sanctity

The extraordinary and astonishing thing about the pilgrimage of sanctity is exactly its ordinariness. It seems so incongruous that the path that leads to Divine Union may consist of such things as not eating that cookie, not getting a second coffee, exercising for five minutes more, doing the dishes, and deliberately avoiding hilarious but frivolous conversation. We esteem our acts and habits too little, yearning for the mustard seed of faith but neglecting in the same breath the same tiny seeds of virtue that could have produced a great harvest.
This was the great revelation of the desert for those who first had the courage to listen : all the day is bathed in Divinity.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Lines in the Sand

Let not your first words at the discovery of another's sin be those of condemnation.

Remember that when the adulteress was thrown before Christ He first expelled accuser and onlooker before saying : Go and sin no more.

Monday, 7 January 2008

A Word of Fire

"I think you are confusing holiness with perfection"

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Christmastide Thoughts

I cannot comment worthily on the mystery of Christmas: the mystery of the Strong revealed in the weak and helpless, of the Infinite confined to a crib, of the Divine Riches revealed in the eyes of a baby, and of the celestial outcasts discovering that God Himself has sought them out. It is this mystery that has capsized the universe: the heavens explode in infinite golden song, the Angelic Orders in vast array bow to a Man, nay a Child!

In this mystery, humanity is thrust into the very depths of God.