For the days and times when we so experience our woundedness and faults and wonder how God can still love us:
God likes me covered with my creaturehood
and with my limits spread across His face.
He likes to see me lifting to His eyes
even the wretchedness that dropped His grace.
~Jessica Powers (from “Creature of God”)
(This is a repost of a profound poem.)
The poem I have to share with you this Sunday is another by Jessica Powers:
The Garments of God
God sits on a chair of darkness in my soul.
He is God alone, supreme in His majesty.
I sit at His feet, a child in the dark beside Him;
my joy is aware of His glance and my sorrow is tempted
to nest on the thought that His face is turned from me.
He is clothed in the robes of His mercy, voluminous garments–
not velvet or silk and affable to the touch,
but fabric strong for a frantic hand to clutch,
and I hold to it fast with the fingers of my will.
Here is my cry of faith, my deep avowal
to the Divinity that I am but dust.
Here is the loud profession of my trust.
I need not go abroad
to the hills of speech or the hinterlands of music
for a crier to walk in my soul where all is still.
I have this potent prayer through good or ill:
here in the dark I clutch the garments of God.
Note: every year I repost this poem because I still love it!
A beautiful snow last night and this morning a bird singing outside my window. This brings to mind a poem by Jessica Powers about a chickadee in a snow storm. There is always something to be learned from God’s creatures if we just take the time to look and ask Him to help us to really see.
Look at the Chickadee
I take my lesson from the chickadee
who in the storm
receives a special fire to keep him warm,
who in the dearth of a December day
can make the seed of a dead weed his stay,
so simple and so small,
and yet the hardiest hunter of them all.
The world is winter now and I who go
loving no venture half so much as snow,
in this white blinding desert have been sent
a most concise and charming argument.
To those who seek to flout austerity,
who have a doubt of God’s solicitude
for even the most trivial of His brood,
to those whose minds are chilled with misery
I have this brief audacious word to say:
look at the chickadee,
that small perennial singer of the earth,
who makes the week of a December day
the pivot of his mirth.
That God made birds is surely in His favor.
I write them as His courtesies of love.
Hidden in leaves, they offer me sweet savor
of lightsome music; when they streak above
my garden wall they brush my scene with color.
They are embroideries upon the grass.
I write the gayest stitched-in blossoms duller
than birds which change their patterns as I pass.
I nurse a holy envy of St. Francis
who lured the birds to nestle at his breast.
Yet I am grateful for this one which dances
across my lawn, a reckless anapest.
Subjects for gratitude push up my living
praise to a sum that tempts the infinite;
but birds deserve one whole psalm of thanksgiving
and these words are my antiphon for it.
Jessica Powers (1956)
The Will of God
Time has one song along. If you are heedful
and concentrate on sound with all your soul,
you may hear the song of the beautiful will of God,
soft notes or deep sonorous tones that roll
like thunder over time.
Not many have the hearing for this music,
and fewer still have sought it as sublime.
Listen, and tell your grief: But God is singing!
God sings through all creation with His will.
Save the negation of sin, all is His music,
even the notes that set their roots ill
to flower in pity, pardon or sweet humbling.
Evil fins harshness of the rack and rod
in tunes where good finds tenderness and glory.
The saints who loved have died of this pure music,
and no one enters heaven until he learns,
deep in his soul at least, to sing with God.
A Sunday-poem by Jessica Powers:
All the day long I spent the hours with suffering.
I woke to find her sitting by my bed.
She stalked my footsteps while time slowed to timeless,
tortured my sight, came close in what was said.
She asked no more than that, beneath unwelcome,
I might be mindful of her grant of grace.
I still can smile, amused, when I remember
how I surprised her when I kissed her face.
A Sunday-poem from Jessica Powers:
But Not With Wine
“You are drunk, but not with wine” (Isaiah 51.21)
O god of too much giving, whence is this
inebriation that possesses me,
that the staid road now wanders all amiss
and that the wind walks much too giddily,
clutching a bush for balance, or a tree?
How then can dignity and pride endure
with such inordinate mirth upon the land,
when steps and speech are somewhat insecure
and the light heart is wholly out of hand?
If there be indecorum in my songs,
fasten the blame where rightly it belongs:
on Him who offered me too many cups
of His most potent goodness–not on me,
a peasant who, because a king was host,
drank out of courtesy.