who do not know, but are not lost

I’m just about through Kathleen Norris’ Acedia & me. And what I’m not through, I’ll just have to forgo, as I’ve rechecked it five times from the library and it’s due today. Dang it. But before I return it, I must reference a poem and a passage or two:

 

Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them.

— G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


The world is eaten up by boredom…You can’t see it all at once. It is like dust. You go about and never notice…But stand still for an instant and there it is, coating your face and hands. To shake off this drizzle of ashes you must be forever on the go. And so people are always “on the go.”

— Georges Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest

 

…what the late poet William Stafford used to say about writer’s block. He claimed never to have experienced it, because as soon as he felt it coming on, he lowered his standards. Writing is like fishing, Stafford would say. A nibble will always come, but all too often we dismiss the little nudge as not worthy of the great works we vaingloriously imagine we will write. In a similar way, we block our spiritual progress. The message of salvation that begins as a whisper is easily missed in the noise of passions such as envy, pride, anger, and acedia…we must grasp in the darkness the divine help that cannot be felt or clearly seen.

— Kathleen Norris, Acedia & me

 

THE HIGHER ARITHMETIC

In heaven, I do not know that there are angels,
but I know there are numbers there, and light.
(Arithmetic and heaven are both uncountably
full of light.) Inaccessible cardinals, there,
will lord it over mere infinities;
the naturals will dance among the reals…

Apart from numbers, how little we know.

There is no largest prime. The Halting Problem
is formally undecidable. Every subset
of a well-ordered set is well-ordered itself.  

Such things are true, even easy to prove.
Are there uncountably more, unknowably other
true things about the world?

I had to go away. A woman I love
(and this it true, too) put an icon
of an archangel into the glove-compartment
of my car. I haven’t looked, but I know it is there,
as I know there is no largest prime.

                                                                 Raphael,
she said. His numberless wings cloak all of us
poor travellers who do not know, but are not lost.
The angel, she said, of happy meeting, after all. 

— David J. Dwyer

 

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2 thoughts on “who do not know, but are not lost

  1. Would that be the William Stafford from Purdue? He was my major professor a million years ago. I didn’t know he was a poet, so perhaps it is not the same person. I was an American Lit major, MA. Just curious.
    and Hello!
    meg

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