That there …
That there is the unfamiliar too. That there is a landscape that will through all time resist our endeavours at domestication. There is ine who models his diguises without a thought, to whom invisibility is as natural as it is to be above or below sound. He hides himself in a seed so that exploding silently he pervades the world. He is the wilderness imprisoned under our flagstones, yet escaping from them in a haeommorrhage of raw flowers. He bares his teeth in the lightening, delivering his electric bite, appals us with his thunder only to unnerve us further with the blessing of his held breath.
God is known, in part, in his absence, but also as he wishes us to know him; but are we receptive? There is a recurrence here of the theme of God not so much being “absent” as “hiding”, but hiding in plain sight. Thomas has reminded us constantly that for all “our endeavours of domestication”, we cannot see God as we may want, but only as he allows. God is eternal and infinite, we are mortal and finite. What is “natural” for God may seem strange to us and be unfamiliar; but if we are silent and watch, then we can see him in places we would not think of looking. Our limitations limit us, not God.
There are times, in prayer, when, to use a favourite image of Thomas’s, it feels as though you are “tuning in” to a “frequency” which is always there, a consciousness of being part of something much greater and eternal. I think of it as the on-going praise of those whose song is “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.” But even trying to put it into those words diminished it; perhaps some of you have felt it too?
The images Thomas offers to God hiding himself in a seed so that
reminds us that whether on moor, seashore or fields, God is to be found in nature. This is not some simple pantheism, it is a reminder, as Mthr Carys puts it that:
Life pours untidily through the world that we lay on top of God’s world, and even though invisioble, lights our way, with sometimes shocking intensityp. 162
The poem pulls us away from the world we have put on top of God’s world and challenges our cosy, familiar assumptions, ending with the “heart-stopping” holding of his breath by God. In the silence, after the storm, in the darkness which will never prevail over the Light, there is that still, small voice. Are we on its frequency, or do we expect it to be on ours without making the adjustments?
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!