What Is Seen

There are moments when the profane cannot avoid, let alone hide, the universal.

Duo Dickinson / 3.10.22

To pile like Thunder to its close
Then crumble grand away
While Everything created hid
This — would be Poetry —
Or Love — the two coeval come —
We both and neither prove —
Experience either and consume —
For None see God and live —
-Emily Dickinson

Poetry is hard. The intimate seeking the universal.

“Everything created hid” while it “piles like thunder.”

The infinite and the profane cannot exist without the other. All of us toil at meaning – whether getting food to eat, or making art, or conquering Ukraine. We work in a world we made, of transaction, whether it’s our resume or the words of the poems we write.

But there are moments when the profane cannot avoid, let alone hide, the universal. Love is there, hard. Death, too, but once. In those moments

We both and neither prove —
Experience either and consume —

At these moments what was made, and how it is made is undeniable, are “coeval” as Emily described.

It is a time, for some, of thinking about what is made, and why, because 20 centuries ago, someone made just like me, and you, was unmade. Then, remade. Or more clearly understood.

Huge storms of life surround us every day. We cope, fail, even succeed at some things, but mostly, in the end, know that this time is what we have made, even if we simply did not make ourselves. If we did, we would not die. And we would not write poetry.

Alone, in our room, to ourselves, for ourselves, as a Emily did, we are often speaking of love and death, while alone and living. “While Everything created hid.” We can see beyond our efforts to cope and try to understand how limited we are. But sometimes love overcomes our resolute fear.

I have been to two gatherings intended to touch death. These were funerals of those I grew up with, but did not know. “Both and neither” were fully alone, to me, including me when I was with them. As with everyone, death intervened in their lives. Upon creating a place to touch the dead, many living just showed up. That love, while real, is hard to accept.

This unknown love extends to how we accept God (or not). Those who were part of these funerals and I shared childhoods. The cave of our youth made all assumptions of our worth beyond living simply suspect. If you feel unloved, you are unlovable -to you. We lived that, but, apparently, others live around us, and knew us. And love us.

We were the poems made in our silence. These poems, all lives, “pile like Thunder to its close”. And they all do close. And that same close, 2,000 years ago, is the poem we cannot end. Emily knew that.

We do write the poem, we create a life, “While Everything created hid”. After a hundred generations Jesus is the poem that is written of us, for us, and was fully hidden, until he wasn’t.

Was I alone growing up? Were we, all three? Yes. But are we surrounded by the families we made? Yes. Every one of us. It is all we have, it is what we were given. It is Lent. It is a time looking at death, because we are looking beyond it. The poems we are are in waiting, though clearer “to its close.”

“For None see God and live – “

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