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From the beginning, the Word was with God as the seed of all Creation, the core of man’s being, the Way to the Father and the Truth that would set men free. God didn’t respond to Adam’s sin with Plan B, or to all man’s subsequent rebellion with constant revisions. Christ was ever the Way, throughout the years in which the long, hard story of the Fall played out in pain and suffering.
I thank C.S. Lewis for the idea that the light of Christ shone, if dimly, as preparatio evangelium, through the stories of fallen man. Dark mythology was pricked by light from stars that told God’s story of redemption to come through the king-child of a virgin. Man descended, debased, His awareness of the one God darkened into petty polytheism. The ‘ground’ of all that dark, ancient time was filled with the toxins of evil.
Just as soil does, gradually, cleanse itself through the dispersion of poisons in water, and their uptake into plants, so God takes up each painful element in the story – our own, and mankind’s – into His greater story, working all things together for good, and leaving nothing wasted.
I love to invent words. In The Epic, ‘agonant’ refers to the voicing of man’s agony, where ‘the vowel’ is God’s own being – necessary spacious place within which time (shown as ‘grinding gears’ and ‘spinning spheres’) has being. (When the Jews write the name of God, they omit the vowels – His inner, or private name. When God entered the covenant with Abram, He gave Him that name: Abraham.) ‘Purgant’ echoes this first coinage with a word that suggests both the purgation accomplished over long ages and also the ‘fragrant’ nature of anything – including a soul – that is cleansed and fresh.
‘Ostinate’ is an invented form of ‘ostinato,’ which can be heard as a low, musical thrumming beneath a melody line. I want to suggest that time operates at many ‘wavelengths’ simultaneously: we zip through our short lives, Creation praises the Creator over its much longer, slower life, and God himself continuously sustains us by His uttered Word, Who was and ever is the same. Together, a polyphony, a many-sounded space is generated, which makes of time a ‘womb’ for the multi-layered story that God perceives as a single, whole, work of art.
God’s Word has never stopped pouring forth, but has not lived in men until Christ himself became that Man who rose from the dead. In His Resurrection, He made it possible for us to resound that Word, and to hear faint traces of it as we explore ‘history’s numinous (pre-Christian) core’. Just as we must read the Old Testament in light of the New, all history is illumined by the awakening of man in Christ.
The fifth stanza stands apart, separating the pagan from the Christian ‘testaments,’ so you must look there for the Cross, which alone could have such a time-dividing effect. The Cross, the Passion, is the ‘enfleshed offering,’ the unbroken bones of Christ, the living Rock (marrow-stone) of the Church birthed from His side, the hope waiting (first to ooze, then to spring up abundantly as His people multiplied). His Cross is the Tree of Life that, as all trees do, took up inanimate minerals from the soil of time, death, ‘ancient story,’ and bore them up by the power of water, or grace, transformed into that which is alive and feeds life.
After the travail of Love, and the dawn that wings her way over the eastern/Easter horizon like the Spirit/dove, souls are set free with all Creation. Though so much story remains to be told, this still point – Christ, dead, in chronos – that corresponds perfectly to the fast – God’s omni-temporal all-knowing, in kairos – stops the story at its perfect Center.
From there, I find my place: loved from my own beginning as Man has been loved from his, by the God who has pitied me and moved toward me – always – to rescue and lift me into the dance of Eternity. (I included a favorite phrase from Juliana of Norwich – that God is courteous.) There, I’ll inhabit the mansion of my own whole being, woven for me in the very moment God said yes to my being, and furnished, in a sense, with my temporal acquisitions. If this were the only poem I’d ever written, I’d be content.