Monday, 18 February 2013

The DAFFODILS are COVERED by...

... frosted crusts of yesterday's snows. Smooth rolling folds of white with the trace of green beneath; thin plumes of Spring's green fire. I have come here to wind the church clock. To climb those dusty steps that smell of old stone and the rough prayers of older days. To turn the windlass whose cold metal scorches the palms and fingers. And all the while the rhythm of my thoughts turning and turning...

I am on my to way work. I've been asked to take an evening lecture on the resurrection in the New Testament. For the last three or so days my head has been full of it.

But now, as I stand in this darkening churchyard with clumps of snow lying blue and cold in the shadows, I do not want to leave. I look at the ragged rows of gravestones and memorials standing slant and hag-like beneath the heavy sky. Each grave holding safe one who was buried with the promise of resurrection. Did they die with that hope in their dying hearts? That same hope that we will be dissecting and scrutinizing? Did those standing around the torn earth on that day ache with longing for that day of resurrection? Did they sit in kitchens, now forever quieter, the favourite cup ownerless and never more used, a chair now sitting empty, nurturing the hope that sparks when even tears have long since dried?

I do not want to leave. I want to hear those stories of the long buried and the dead. To hear what they knew of the resurrection and how tears might turn to laughter... and to know... to know why I, at times, find it so difficult to comprehend. My notes on cognitive dissonance and the enervating words of Bultmann await me in my car. My lecture feels too much like the 'strange fire' of Nadab and Abihu. Not because it contravenes some pale orthodoxy sealed by the machinations of synods, but that it tramples on something far more sacred - the last hopes of those in need of hope. There are times when my work wraps around my head too tightly. I feel that sense of disconnection and alienation from all that I hold precious and then I need to remind myself that I must come here. That I must stand beneath this shaggy yew and listen to the ancient stories that matter.

Darkness falls and it grows steadily colder...

Beneath the snow there are daffodils.

22 comments:

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    1. Thank you so much (and I LOVE your name - we need MORE optimistic existentialists!!). Having been kept away from blogs and blogging by work, returning here and reading a comment like this (and all those below) touches more deeply than I can express and reminds me how good it is to know the encouragement of fellow travellers. Thank you.

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  2. This great text is a multipart dialogue with life, with memory, with death and finally with the essence of infinity that perhaps lies in the fact that the questions and searches never end.
    So, if the question is the man, the answer is God.

    I love your writing.

    Yannis Politopoulos

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    1. Your comments, Yannis, always touch the very essence and I am deeply flattered that you think so deeply about the things that I write about.
      I rather like that thought - so, if the question is man, the answer is God.
      That has got me thinking and I am rather taken with the thought that, mankind are the questions of God let loose amid the universe...

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  3. "..if the question is the man, the answer is God..." !!!
    who would've thought that one short sentence could so wonderfully explain everything. yannis, you marvel!

    ;)

    how i love reading your thoughts, mister g.





    “What we call life...is the combination of the Five Aggregates, a combination of physical and mental energies. These are constantly changing; they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Every moment they are born and they die. 'When the Aggregates arise, decay and die, O bhikkhu, every moment you are born, decay, and die.' This, even dow during this life time, every moment we are born and die, but we continue. If we can understand that in this life we can continue without a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul, why can't we understand that those forces themselves can continue without a Self or a Soul behind them after the non-functioning of the body?”
    ― Walpola Rahula

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    1. Thank you, ma'am ;)
      I can always leave it to you to stretch my mind!


      Yes, it is so strange that life (and the whole concept of what it is to be alive) is so strongly (exlusively even) bound to the physical body. It is also strange that in a life (micro-cosmically and macro-cosmically) of constant change and flux, we (or at least I) find change so difficult to cope with and, at times, threatening.
      One might almost be led to believe that out of all creatures, humans are the least suited to at being human!

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  4. ...within the complexities of the riddle ~ therein ~ can the fruits of simplicity arise ~ blessed be dear kindred brother!...(o:

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    1. Thank you, Samantha. I am sure you are right. The chaotic turbulance of water flowing over rocks creates the simple and powerful beauty of a waterfall.
      I hope that all is well with you on the otherside of the world.

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  5. when visiting my ancestors in the cemeteries, I often look around and think of the thousands of stories that can be told.

    knowing there are patches of green and daffodils under all the snow gives one hope. its a test of patience, quietly waiting for the white blanket to melt away and reveal that life begins again. it always does. the beauty is the gift for our patience.

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    1. YES!! And, the thing, Amanda, that always takes my breath away is that there is something of immense power about that quiet, waiting, beauty. Everything looks so delicate and utterly fragile and yet it is as if the earth knows that nothing can stop the roar of spring. Those seemingly frail blades of green are the tiger's claws of unstoppable, irrepressible life that nothing can restrain!!

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  6. Such beautiful writing. There is something incredibly hopeful about flowers in snow. That time in between, winter fading into spring. I enjoy your perspective, all of those stories, dreams and hopes. I hear them when I walk along an old road or through older gardens. Thank you, my friend.

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    1. Thank you. Oh yes, Mandy, there is something especially powerful abou old roads and older gardens for connecting with the past. I really love walking the old roads and greenways.

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  7. As one who has benefitted often from your scholarship and hopes to do so again I would say that all your teaching is suffused with the same spirit that I find in thus beautiful piece. When Yannis writes that the answer is God I think that he does so in the same spirit. That it is not the kind of answer beloved of those who want to end the discussion with their own certainties, their own satisfied full stop/period. It is the kind of answer that Goethe's Faust finds at the end of his long searching when he says, "I now do see that there is nothing that we can know." After which he simply gives himself up to the unknowable mystery. Someone like you who teaches in this spirit of unknowing, longing and yet profound scholarship is a great gift to the rest of us.

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    1. I was thinking only this morning, Stephen, how much I miss our working together. We MUST do something soon.
      Your comment reminds me of the wonderful piece you posted the other week about Frodo's acceptance of his world and that he grew content in knowing that some of it was beyond him and yet he also knew that he somehow had a place within it.
      One thinks of sapiential literature (esp. Proverbs, Ecclesiates and Job) and the internal debates they express and how the reader (if they read it aright) are not left with answers, but with the questions and the truths that are touched but never captured by those questions.

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  8. I think we should plan something and then just do it & see who turns up! What about a conversation that we begin together that we then invite others into?

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    1. That sounds quite a fun idea. I'll email you and see if we can sort something out.

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  9. Your writing never fails to disappoint!
    I've missed reading your wonderful stories and such!! I am looking forward to reading more!!

    [I've returned from my "hiatus" and made a few changes to my blog, including the name...(used to be Autumns Veil)...]

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    1. It is so lovely to hear from you again. As you may have seen from the paucity of posts this year, a lot of things have prevented me from blogging recently! However ,i do hope to return to it in the fairly near future.
      I look forward to catching up with you on your newly revitalised blog! :)

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  10. ...greetings dear kindred heart! ~ just a quick visit to see how thee be faring! ~ may all be well ~ looking forward to seeing thee soon! ~ blessed be!...(o:

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts and greetigs, Samantha. Sorry for such a prolonged absence. Work has kept me away from blogging. I'm looking forward to catching up with you soon.

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  11. Wow..always wonderful visiting your entrancing realm..and reading your words..I have enjoyed every minute of it! Loved " spring's green fire"...and yes please stay beneath the shaggy yew..I look forward to your posts, poems and sharings!
    Victoria

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    1. Thank you, Victoria, for your lovely words. I have been rather out of things because of work, but I really appreciate your visits! :)

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For your voice is important... and words that are shared grow wings.