Living Proof Ministries Research Assistant. Biblical Languages Student. Lover of Arts & Interiors. Compulsive Thinker. Home is Houston, Texas. I like words. For example, when I read these by C.S. Lewis, I cried: "The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing--to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from . . . Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home?" I use this little space to store quotations, brief thoughts & inchoate ideas. At the risk of sounding selfish, this tumblr exists mostly just to make me happy.
I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down.
More and more what I want from the poetry I read is some density of experience, some sense that a whole life is being brought to bear both on and in language. It’s not a quality one can counterfeit, nor do I think that age, breadth of experience, or a certain equanimity of tone- “wisdom,” call it—are necessarily the issue … I would describe it as a recognizable complexity of experience culminating in a clarity of expression that is neither reductive nor summative, some sense that a fully inhabited life-be it brief, or narrow, or in some fundamental way thwarted-has been suffered into form.
Christian Wiman, “Fugitive Pieces (I)” in Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small … We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.
Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live … To the modern man the heavens are actually below the earth. The explanation is simple; he is standing on his head; which is a very weak pedestal to stand on. But when he has found his feet again he knows it.
We don’t come to the table to fight or to defend. We don’t come to prove or to conquer, to draw lines in the sand or stir up trouble. We come to the table because our hunger brings us there. We come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity. The table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking everywhere for. The table is the place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children. We allow someone else to meet our need. In a world that prides people on not having needs, on going longer and faster, on going without, on powering through, the table is a place of safety and rest and humanity, where we are allowed to be as fragile as we feel. If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.
The grass seemed signalling to me with all its fingers at once; the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood. The sun would make me see him if he rose a thousand times. The recurrences of the universe rose to the maddening rhythm of an incantation, and I began to see an idea.
I was brought up with the poisonous notion that you had to renounce love of the earth in order to receive the love of God. My experience has been just the opposite: a love of the earth and existence so overflowing that it implied, or included, or even absolutely demanded, God. Love did not deliver me from the earth, but into it. And by some miracle I do not find that this experience is crushed or even lessened by the knowledge that, in all likelihood, I will be leaving the earth sooner than I had thought. Quite the contrary, I find life thriving in me, and not in an aestheticizing Death-is-the-mother-of-beauty sort of way either, for what extreme grief has given me is the very thing it seemed at first to obliterate: a sense of life beyond the moment, a sense of hope.
Christian Wiman, ”Love Bade Me Welcome” in Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Part of the mystery of grace is the way it operates not only as present joy and future hope, but also retroactively, in a way: the past is suffused with a presence that, at the time, you could only feel as the most implacable absence.