My Bright Abyss

BELIEF: Sorrow’s Flower—A Quick Shudder Of The Heart by Christian Wiman

June 20, 2018

From My Bright Abyss Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color.  This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow.  They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is.  But they still burn. And why this sorrow?  Why its persistence, its involvement with all that is my soul?  Childhood was difficult, and most of it remains inaccessible to me, but I was deeply loved.  And I am capable of deep love now for the people in my life, for my work.  I love the life that I have been granted in this deepening [...]

BELIEF: Sorrow’s Flower— Contingency by Christian Wiman

June 13, 2018

From My Bright Abyss Adele, who at nearly sixty years old finds that her faith has fallen away, tells me that it was love that first led her to God.  Thirty-five years earlier, love for the man who would be her husband for most of her life seemed to crack open the world and her heart at the same time, seemed to fuse those latent, living energies into a single flame, the name of which, she knew, was God.  There were careers and children.  There were homes laid claim to and relinquished.  There was something perhaps too usual for a love that had torn her so wholly open, but time takes the edge off of any experience, life means mostly waiting for life, or remembering it – right?  She tells me all this – right up to the depressingly [...]

BELIEF: My Bright Abyss—Hunger by Christian Wiman

June 6, 2018

From My Bright Abyss When I assented to the faith that was latent within me – and I phrase it carefully, deliberately, for there was no white light, no ministering or avenging angel that tore my life in two; rather it seemed as if the tiniest seed of belief had finally flowered in me, or, more accurately, as if I had happened upon some rare flower deep in the desert and had known, though I was just then discovering it, that it had been blooming impossibly year after parched year in me, surviving all the seasons of my unbelief.  When I assented to the faith that was latent within me, what struck me were the ways in which my evasions and confusions, which I had mistaken for a strong sense of purpose, had expressed themselves in my life: [...]

BELIEF: My Bright Abyss—A Mild Abeyance Of Belief by Christian Wiman

May 30, 2018

From My Bright Abyss If you return to the faith of your childhood after long wandering, people whose orientations are entirely secular will tend to dismiss or at least deprecate the action as having psychological motivations – motivations, it goes without saying, of which you are unconscious.  As it happens, you have this suspicion yourself.  It eats away at the intensity of the experience that made you proclaim, however quietly, your recovered faith, and soon you find yourself getting stalled in arguments between religion and science, theology and history, trying to nail down doctrine like some huge and much-torn tent in the wind. In fact, there is no way to “return to the faith of your childhood,” not really, not unless you’ve [...]

BELIEF: My Bright Abyss—Conversion by Christian Wiman

May 23, 2018

From My Bright Abyss My God my bright abyss into which all my longing will not go once more I come to the edge of all I know and believing nothing believe in this: And there the poem ends.  Or fails, rather, for in the several years since I first wrote that stanza I have been trying to feel my way – to will my way – into its ending.  Poems in general are not especially susceptible to the will, but this one, for obvious reasons, has proved particularly intractable.  As if it weren’t hard enough to articulate one’s belief, I seem to have wanted to distill it into a single stanza.  Still, that is the way I have usually known my own mind, feeling through the sounds of words to the forms they make, and through the forms they make to [...]