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It’s actually the stuff poems are made of. The juxtaposition of two things that don’t seem to fit together, or that cannot both be true, sets up a tension. Creativity is the resolution of such tension – whether in writing poetry, composing music, building an arch, or healing a relationship. This poem is a playful exploration of the way God uses paradox to call forth our need for His resolution.
We feel some discomfort, or tension, and cry out for help. His Spirit plays upon the waters of that tension, and quickens into life some creative solution, some new thing that resolves it. True creativity involves this real newness-of-life. Instead of just pouring out my emotions in words, and instead of just using words like tinker toys to build something novel, I hold the space open for the Spirit of God to enter. The interior tension I bear is the material He works with in order to respond to the reality I face. An artist does not create, as God does, ex nihilo (from nothing), but from the somethings of reality with the help of the Creator.
Here are some of the paradoxes in which I find Divine inspiration:
Every day I must begin – again. Life can be a burden of invarying days that lead to death, or a delightful series of new beginnings that lead to eternity. My choice is to live in tension, or allow God to act upon that tension to help me rise above it.
I rejoice in every new day, despite the reality that there is so much bleakness, destruction, negativity and evil in the world. His mercies are new every morning, and on each day His kingdom is more fully realized as light within this darkened world.
‘Stark urgencies’ demand immediate action, but if I delay my reaction so as to respond, I recover my freedom.
I go on yearning for things ‘that can’t be had,’ because I refuse to despair, and because I believe my yearning may be the prayer that helps realize those impossible possibilities.
Beauty does wound and sometimes break the heart – in a good way, that makes it more easily affected by the sorrows and needs of those around me.
I can give my own wounds as prayers for others – ‘priceless gifts’ of real grace.
Because I have hope of eternity, my joy is not based on the expectation of long life, or on future goals, but emerges in the present moment, ever-fresh.
Who voices the words I cannot say? The Holy Spirit, who prays for me in words that can’t be uttered, when I can’t even put my own needs into words. (Romans 8:26-27)
As I grow older on the outside, I honestly do have a sense of growing younger on the inside! Since I must become like a little child to enter the kingdom of Heaven, it seems God is perfecting this quality in me to prepare me for Eternity.
God’s people have always felt like exiles in this world we are ‘in’ but not ‘of’. A pilgrim, though, takes up his exile voluntarily, wandering aim-fully through the world toward his certain home. God has turned our exile into pilgrimage by turning His eyes of mercy on us to light the way home.
The final paradox turns on the word ‘with.’ While it might be impossible to fill your belly with hunger itself, you are filled at every Mass by a satisfaction with hunger in it! The Bread of Heaven gives fully, even as it causes you to want more. In this way, a crumb of Faith grows into giant-slaying, robust Faith as confidence hungers for more proof, and becomes certainty.
Begin a thing that has no end.
Rejoice in earth’s bleak morning.
Delay stark urgencies a while.
Be still though all is turning.
Require a thing that can’t be had.
Shed tears for beauty’s sorrow.
Give painful wounds as priceless gifts.
Take hope there’s no tomorrow.
Give voice to words one cannot say.
Grow daily ever younger.
In exile find your pilgrim way.
Be satisfied with hunger.
For in this world of paradox,
capacity is measure.
What is not points to what will be,
and poverty is treasure.
The point vanishes beyond
horizons man can see.
Being in two-fold tension waits,
resolved by one-in-three.
All the poems are now in one volume, and I’d love for you to have a copy! Click on the cover to buy it, and click here for the recordings of all the poems.