Monday, April 7, 2014

Meditations in Fast Times: 29. Since we were talking about words

Note to Readers: “Meditations in Fast Times” is a devotional writing experiment for the Season of Lent. Each day during the season, I am writing a poem as a meditation on, taking as my inspiration and intertextual basis, T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”, as well as incorporating the daily office, current events, and other readings—some the same as those Eliot used while composing his seminal work and others.


Since we were talking about words, and words inspired us

    To perfect language and clarify understanding,

    To practice communication with using past and future,

Let me review the epic failure of that enterprise

    That we thought would bring us renown.

We spoke in tongues,
but not with the tongues of angels;
full of and with self,
we sought to be known communicants with the Divine,
rather than in community with other people,
and so our words fell flat,
spiraling downward into obscurity,
so lacking they were in music
or meaning
—if the trumpet sounds uncertainly,
how shall we understand the signal?

If we are to spread love,
it must be into the field of our life and action,
even if we never know the result of our labor.

Love of place cannot rank above love of people;
people are the servants of creation;
they are all the gardeners of Eden,
just as you are—
this what memory taught me:

To be free, the self must be regularly emptied,

a sign of giving and receiving in equal measure;
emptiness is the sign of a life well spent,
regardless of any past or future claims.

Of all that I ever knew about language,
of all the words and ways,
I’d rather have just five words
that I could speak with compassion and love,
that I could be compassion and love,
that I could truly be,
and be so for everyone.

© 2014 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen