BELIEF: Unity by Christian Wiman

Meditation of a Modern Believer

Unity by Christian Wiman

From My Bright Abyss

And now I doubt the premise with which I began: that art is the source of my instinct toward unity rather than – like the theology I read, like scripture, like these all-too-inadequate fragments – a means of preserving and honoring that instinct.  I distrust those skeptics who admit no spiritual element into their most transfiguring experiences because I am so easily and so often one of them, stepping outside of my own miraculous moments to inspect, analyze, explain.

Having confessed, he feels
That he should go down on his knees and pray
For forgiveness for his pride, for having
Dared to view his soul from the outside.
(From “Having Confessed”)

Kavanagh again.  And that is the real issue, that the link not be broken, that every intellectual growth remain rooted in that early experience of ultimate insight, ultimate unknowingness, every word about God both responsive and responsible to the silence that is its source.  For all but the holy fools among us, rational thought – or viewing the soul “from the outside” – is inevitable, whether through theology, philosophy, science, or simply the narratives by means of which we describe and understand our lives.  But what sort of understanding could be emptier than one that diminishes or erases the moments that made understanding essential in the first place?  What discipline more dubious than learning to see every logical flaw in the light that once mastered you?

O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me
In a web of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech.
Feed the gaping need of my senses. Give me ad lib
To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech
For this soul needs to be honored with a new dress woven
From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.
(Patrick Kavanagh, from “Cana Bank Walk”)

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