Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Troubled Way

No illustrations this time. Please absorb the words and supply your own mental images. Lord knows the news has shown us enough.

When I traveled around the world in 1986-87, I missed visiting Japan. The hellacious events there now, the terrible destruction, lives lost, radiation clouds drifting unchecked, are a dreadful reminder (and, yes, I am full of dread) of our place in the Pacific Rim's "Ring of Fire." Violent earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand, and Indonesia, the horrific, beyond-imagining pictures from Japan, even the minor aftershock in Alaska, warn those of us living on the West Coast to prepare now for the worst.

But the trip years ago did allow me to wander the two main islands of New Zealand, with a few days spent in South Island's then-lovely city of Christchurch--whose venerable Cathedral was destroyed, portions razed to the ground, in the 2011 quake just weeks ago. With Easter approaching now, and in remembrance of the earthquake and tsunami dead, in Japan and elsewhere, I offer this slight, reluctantly religious poem started in New Zealand long ago, intending to express a small bit of the angst and doubt--and irrational hope--most humans experience along the troubled way... where the worst natural disasters are still outnumbered by human ones.

Easter in Christchurch

The man on the dark tree
died into mystery;
his gaunt corpse disappeared
and all of history veered...
Like every other youth,
I hungered after truth
but slipped away, as most
of the agnostic host
that sees the world its way.
But this is Easter Day,
and I am in Christchurch--
another man in search
of something, Jaysus wept,
some message to accept.

The Cathedral stands fair,
a monument to prayer
and song--a Schubert mass
this day as I walk past.
The voices rise to heaven;
their lives have been forgiven,
their errors purified.
I listen from outside.
Easter is autumn here,
the down-turn of the year:
leaves withering on trees,
systems in entropy's
grip... In this dying season
how can a soul be risen?

I pace out in the rain
and ponder the world's pain,
the blood shed in hatred,
anguish of quick and dead,
absence of brotherhood.
Christsake, where is the good?
If race survives, still man
does worse than he began.
If this be God's behest,
I will remain a guest.
From all that's sanctified,
stone of ages, I would hide.

Yet the cold rain compels
me in, where belief dwells...
I come in doubt, but stay
to listen and half-pray.
Nothing waits me out there,
and I must be somewhere
this day of Resurrection.
I brood on his rejection.
At cock-crow, in first light,
I still could rise. I might.


all ways 11 o'clock said...

not being of a religious sort either the last line is the kicker.
'I still could rise. I might.

and to me it is the hope of rising
above religion
to see over the church, the wars and the natural tragedies
and gaze out to future without such horrors.

i am glad you hauled this one out Ed.


I Witness said...

I am honored to accept your generous appraisal. I wonder if one does better to believe he/she has some of the answers, easing the troubled mind... or to remain in doubt and confusion and occasional despair for the whole of one's life. At 68 I have no answer(s).

all ways 11 o'clock said...

i believe it is a choice to remain in doubt and confusion

we may choose to live through
those troubled times in light with
an understanding of learning with every experience good or bad

on saying that i flux and break as
much as anyone
it is not easy
at 56 i say bring it on,
all of it.

I Witness said...

So... it's the terra incognita impasse: in this life, you can pray for Pace in terra, or pace your terrace and somehow outpace your terror.