Poetics of Belief
Every now and then, a book comes along that you wished you’d written. It speaks to you so deeply that you could almost imagine you speaking it. I cannot describe the feeling of comfort that comes with multiple moments of recognition as you turn each page. But then you realize you did not write it. You could not write it. You gave up the study of poetry (your first love) and came too late to philosophy (an unrequited longing) to write such an intelligent but soul-searching book that could long outlive its writer and you. You despair greatly at the feebleness of your brain and the scarcity of time to write such a book.
But you could have written the title. The title, yes, that was in you for a long-time.
“Hovering over an abyss” is how I would describe the feeling of faith in the wake of 9/11 or in the unknowing that follows us throughout the turns of our daughter’s fragility. It sounds more scary than it is. The bare truth of the abyss is more comforting than all the platitudes and consolations I am offered. Even absence of all you thought you knew is a kind of presence of something greater than what you could know. This is what faith feels like for me and I prefer it to certitude or reliance on the solace of half-truths and well-meaning, missed meanings. An abyss can be bright! Illuminating, Divine…
“How I pray for this consolation for my wife, that she might know, when I am gone, this holy porousness, this presence that both stills and fulfills the ravages of absence, this gift beyond grief.” ~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (22).
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