Of poets Made of rhyme and metre, the ability to scan disorderedlines; an imposed syntax; the word like a sword turning both ways to keep the gates of vocabulary. Of Musicians The first sound in the silence; the frequency of the struck chord; the electrical, ultimate rhythm of the full orchestra, himself the conductor of it and the composer. Of Artists Who disguises himself in wood and stone; who has to be unmasked with such patience; who escapes in the end, leaving them standing, tool in hand, in front of a supposition Of Scientists The agitation at the centre of non-being; the agreed myth of their equations; the experiment that provded them wrong; the answer they have overrun that waits for them to turn around. Of Theologians The word as an idea, drimbled by their dry minds in the long sentences of their chapters, gathering dust in their libraries; a sacrmanet that, if not soon swallowed, sticks in the throat. Who IS Whose conversation is the aside; whose mind is its own fountain, who overflows. Who takes the Cross from between his teeth to fly humanity upon it.
One thing we have in common with our Creator is the urge to create – and it is there we are most like him. God’s love overflows into the creation of all things that are and ever shall be. As my beloved St Isaac the Syrian put it so perfectly:
“In love did He bring the world into existence; in love does He guide it during this its temporal existence; in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprisedSt Isaac, II.38.1-2
All we create is a product of that love, as we are ourselves:
In his litany of creators, Thomas once more uses paradox to remind us that for all our attempts, we can know of God in this mortal life only what he wants us to know. As creators we tap into and echo the “primary imagination” of God (Frequencies, p. 156). Thomas thought that “poetry and religion” were the two unifying themes which harnessed the imagination to God, and here we see echoes of that.
But as always with Thomas, it is a matter of echoes, resonances, allusions, but also of elusiveness. Our quest to pin God down has failed and will always fail. The tree on which the Son was nailed becomes a source of inspiration, of flying, for us – the paradox is complete. The twisting of the words in the imagination of the poet; the elusive chord sequences trailing away, captured only in our notation which is but an echo of what the spirit captured; the angel hidden in the marble; in all these God is and creates through us.
Those who seek to find order, whether the scientist or the theologian, risk missing the elusiveness in the need, their man-made need, to find labels and to order things. “Dry minds” and “long sentence” reminds my of my attempts to read Barth. Goodness me did I try. I am not stupid or unintellectual, but the more of him I tried to read, the more I got lost in a word-maze – the the further away from God I felt. I returned, as I always do, to my beloved St Isaac who captures the immensity of God’s creative love for us:
Among all God’s actions there is none which is not entirely a matter of mercy, love and compassion: this constitutes the beginning and the end of His dealings with us.
In that is all we need to know.
The theme of this final week is “Seeing” and the words of St John ring out loud in terms of seeing God as he wishes us to see him”
Grace and Truth lie at the heart of great art, great music, great poetry, and they are permanent ephiphanies of that love with which God created all things. He beckons us on, in the words to the hymn, “to the place that he is gone.”
There is an #adventbookclub using “Frequencies of God” by Carys Walsh and you can support the publisher by buying it here: https://canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9781786220882/frequencies-of-god. We’ll be running this club on Twitter and Facebook, and you are welcome to join in with thoughts and comments. Other folk doing this are https://grahart.wordpress.com/ and https://becausegodislove.wordpress.com/ so please pop over and read their thoughts too!