Suddenly

Suddenly after long silence
he has become voluble.
He addresses me from a myriad
directions with the fluency
of water, the articulateness
of green leaves; and in the genes,
too, the components
of my existence. The rock,
so long speechless, is the library
of his poetry. He sings to me
in the chain-saw, writes
with the surgeon’s hand
on the skin’s parchment messages
of healing. The weather
is his mind’s turbine
driving the earth’s bulk round
and around on its remedial
journey. I have no need
to despair; as at
some second Pentecost
of a Gentile, I listen to the things
round me: weeds, stones, instruments,
the machine itself, all
speaking to me in the vernacular
of the purposes of One who is.


All week we have been waiting. We have cultivated its virtues. In the silences and in the everyday we have found glimpses and echoes and resonances. We have seen how easily silence can seem like absence. Long silence, such as that Mthr Theresa write about, is absence. Not God’s absence, but ours. But here the silence is broken by the storm. God is in all things and all things speak to the poet of God. This is that Damascene moment. But it is not limited to a single encounter. Like the “supernumary blossom” of May in Eliot’s Little Gidding, God’s love exists in superabundance and can be encountered in all things.

We have gone, it seems to me here, from what I tend to see as almost a typical English reserve, to the wild exhuberance of joy. But it came, as it comes, after the waiting. It is the journey that equips us to see what is at its end.

In it we get, as Mthr Carys writes, of Thomas’s

excited surprise that his presence of absence and silence … has been confounded by a sense of God’s chattering presence

Just as the Word became flesh, so does our flesh experience God through the sense he gave us. Too often we are like those idols described by the Psalmist

They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:

They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:

They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat

Now we see in the natural world the evidence of the Divine presence. Absent God our senses are blunted, and it is only with his presence we realise it. All things are infused with life – and the life that brings with it healing for what ails us. In knowledge of that stands perfect freedom – and it is to us, as to the poet, a second Pentecost.

That is what lies at the end of our waiting, just as, at the end of Advent, lies the baby in the manger. Through him all things will be made new – starting with us. Come, Lord Jesus, come!