The tears trailed across Noor’s face, wove quietly into his narrative when he told us that his family – siblings, a mother, and two sons – were still in the camp. In this place where horrors were not only conveyed in dreams of the night. In this place that he fled. Still living, forever just sitting there, away from their country and, worse, away from him. His wife had run. He had no knowledge of her whereabouts.
Have you ever been shocked at the four-letter words in the Bible? Sometimes they offend me more than the four-letter words I hear on the street, because they offend and upend my whole view of things. Scripture, for instance, has the gall to tell you to go and find yourself and then shows you just how to do it.
I’m enamoured, right now, with R.S. Thomas’ work. I’m so new to it, but thankful for the discovery. It reminds me of the writing of other men caught in the act of leading people and caring for their souls: Solomon languishing before the Lord, David madly grabbing the horn of the altar. The narrator throughout Song at the Year’s Turning is caught up in the meaninglessness and mystery of ministry as he walks about the ecology of existence, hands and feet blistered by the rough terrain of men.
George Herbert, one of the 17th century’s fine poets, came to mind today. I recalled his poem “The Altar”, an experimental and spiritually rich arrangement of words. Like Donne, who was a good friend of Herbert’s mother, Herbert played with impossibilities and surprised with metaphysical conceits. I’m pulling from my own archives some poempictures I’ve done over the years, and feel inspired and inclined to build them into my writing life again. Herbert, no doubt, is a giant whose shoulders any poet writing in the Christian tradition, stands upon (especially if that poet is fiddling with visual poetry). “The Altar” is one poem in the vast tradition of writing by Christians, and a visual poem whose content is advanced by the intentional...