The Tick of a Hand

Is it possible that the tick
of the clock is all there is?
That tock is a figment of my
Imagination, projected by
an ear anxious to hear what
really isn’t there?

I’m amazed and
arrested by
the thought that the
tock of the clock is a ruse.

As this thought winds
its way through my body, I
recall those odd times when
my eye twitched without my
willing it to do so – twitch, twitch,
twitch – like the tick of a hand
racing across a face
looking to tock.

This Work We Do Together

This week was the beginning, again, of school. It is always such an exciting time, meeting new students, imagining how the first classes will unfold, and knowing all the while that anything is possible. But one thing is certain: I’ll blink my eyes and it will be Christmas.

Time continues to race on in life. I see our students and can’t help but remember my own foray into theology so many years ago. I never imagined that one day I would be a part of the team welcoming students into a new world. So much is the same: nervous excitement, wondering whether the right choice has been made, and trying to navigate the best ways through academic life. But much has changed. These days there are more women than men in our classes, which are increasingly diverse in terms of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. This diversity makes the classroom an exciting place!

It is odd, but when I consider the differences, the time seems long, and when I ponder the similarities the time shrinks. Theologians and philosophers have thought long and hard about the nature of time, but it seems that all of us have responsibility to make our peace with time.

Students of history know well that the capacity to mark time with watches and such was an important step in the journey to the modern world. Time drives our way of being in the world; being ever watchful of the clock, pondering how to make the most of each day. I am not one to look longingly to the past, but on this issue, I exercise this right. Our overcommitment to projects; our constant checking of time whether by wrist watches or devices demonstrates the kind of difficulty so many of us have in getting settled into a place. We are hounded by the keeping of time.

I know from personal experience that this sometimes dangerous. I do my best work when I work sabbatical into my week. When I am rested, and wrested from the busyness of life new ideas and possibilities pop into my mind. This allows me to be more productive when I get back to work.

I hope our students learn this lesson sooner rather than later. People who burn both ends of the candle do not typically excel. I, too, need to be reminded of this truth. Down time makes on time more productive, imaginative and effective.

Of course this is not only a lesson for students. Their professors owe them the same so that we are better able to be creative, helpful and engaged in this work we do together.

Infinity on Edge

I recall – at age eight – a
field full of
triangles made of
six hay bales:
three kissing the earth
two holding the centre
and one with an eye on the sky.

This field was my playground;
I a fighter plane,
those bale stooks mountains,
and my flight a
reconnaissance.

O, to be eight again.
A magical age:
two zeros on
top of each
other –
infinity
on edge.

I heaven I suspect
I will be eight for
eternity, flying
reconnaissance,
leading me
to You, where I will
know myself anew.

Words Sovereign and Free

They will not be coerced,
these words sovereign and free –
although I might coax them
with appropriate libations
or prognostications that
evoke their curiosity.

The other day my eyes
were on the street and
“peregrination” poked its
head around the corner, but
it walked away –
of course.

And I know
we cannot force
the hand of “manipulation,”
but if we wait, quietly, at
night with the stars, we
jut might catch
“consternation,” or
perhaps a
“cold.”

Mist and Mystery

Yesterday a thick fog framed our city.  North, south, east, and west: in all directions a gentle, yet persistent frozen mist softened the day’s light.  My maple trees shone with ice crystals; pine trees decked with diamonds wrapped around my back yard.  Hoarfrost left behind by that soft haze made me wonder whether I live in a dream.  Is this gentleness real?  Or am I imagining this beauty?  Who is behind this astounding gift so freely given?

Some of the indigenous people of this continent call the Creator of this wonder Kitchi-Manitou.  This name can be variously translated, but the two words point to a mystery, a fundamental anima that is great beyond all telling.  Many of these indigenous peoples assert that Kitchi-Manitou is everywhere.  Yet there are places where this divine presence is concentrated: here and there God is so present that people seek out these particular places to experience vision in times of trial and guidance in periods of perplexity.  Kitchi-Manitou is beyond manipulation, but still promises this mysterious divine presence at sacred sites.

On a day like yesterday, when I looked out over the trees poignant with white, I pondered how this mysterious mist serves as a parable of the mystery of God.  On my midday run, I could clearly see the path at my feet, yet further down the path the fog accumulated to dampen sight.  I knew that from a distance the place where I was and could clearly see would seem to be blanketed with the same thick mist that I only saw at the horizon.  And then, I looked over at the trees and there, the mist left a trace of its presence.  On trees’ twigs and evergreen’s needles the vapor deposited reminders of its presence.  Here and there, evidence of that earthen cloud made a mark that invited me to focus my seeing, so that all of my being might be touched by the mystery of mist.

Of course, this hoarfrost lasted but for a time; rather like a summer fog.  Only a moment is given for seeing this beauty that caresses the eyes; that stills the heart; that opens the ears.  But still this pregnant moment etches itself in my mind’s eye so that I ever see that heaven touches earth and leaves traces of its sanctity even here, on the branches of my back yard.

Kitchi-Manitou has visited my neighbourhood, and so I walk in this place now holy, in wonder as creation’s beauty arrests our propensity for cynicism, our predilection for ego, and our placation with prejudice.  The hoarfrost preaches a mighty sermon:  look for the holy, live with the whole, and give some space for mist and mystery in the imagination.