“So what is the divine? First, it is in us and not outside of us. All searching for the divine out there leads to dead ends, unless that searching corresponds to some inner searching. There are many, many scapes and motions, which correspond perfectly to the appropriate inner conditions from which the divine springs. However, one might come to find equal success and never step over the threshold of his house into the outer world. Second, it comes into being and, when we go, it goes. The divine, to be divine, must be rare and fragile. Its strength isn’t bodily strength. Its weakness isn’t bodily weakness. The most decrepit hermit might be the most spiritually fit, and so may be the child, who dies of some mysterious illness. Third, it only comes into being by being courted or because of sudden or prolonged trauma. It is more likely that this divinity comes into being as the result of a combination of circumstances, both inner and outer, and that is why it is so difficult to identify.”
–from a discarded post called “What Is Divinity?” started 11/19/2010
That Our Homes Are Images of Our Souls
It’s not true the soul can’t see herself.
On my walks, I count her magnificences:
New siding on the Brodys’ place,
their new pool, and the other neighbors, too,
like Greg, hospitalized but recovering, hopefully,
and his flagpole whose tock tock tock
we can hear two houses down on windy nights.
Mine isn’t a cabin in the woods, the way
I’d wish, but there’s a small garden out front
I barely have the time to tend, not with four children,
six cats, a dog and an ex-wife. But then,
there’s Shannon. She makes me forget
the cedar shakes torn away by weather and that dumb
dog. When she stands out in the side-yard
hanging laundry, the wind bullies her skirt.
And it kills me when, making love, either of us
calls out to the only god we still believe in.
This poem is a response to something I read a few weeks ago. I think it was a line in a John Koethe poem, which I liked very much, but the idea about the soul not finding her image in the world anymore stuck in my throat. I guess my discomfort relates back to the paragraph above which comes from a years-old post about the divine. My new book, Small Fires, Little Flames, I understand now, is an attempt to reconcile myself with what might be called the “still small voice.” It’s a good book, I’m proud of it, and I hope those who read it find something of value in it, but what good is a divinity like that, who advises only? I reject such a limited capacity for the soul. Of course, what I’m saying here is difficult to say, to tease out, to define, so forgive me. But what I’ve been thinking lately is that the soul isn’t so rare a thing only a poet or a prophet can find her. She is everywhere and everything–even that which we’d disavow. So while the soul is the sumac an hour before dusk, so, too, is she even the ugliest of Trump’s muggings. If these things aren’t the soul, they are at least her reflections. We read her messages or ignore them at our peril.