Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Luci Shaw on the Incarnation

Four years ago at a used bookstore in Nashville, TN, I happened upon a gently worn copy of the Green Earth: Poems of Creation (Eerdmans, 2002) by Luci Shaw. Having never read her before, but being vaguely familiar with the book, I thumbed the pages with interest. Intrigued by the title of one of the poems I paused and read these lines:

When a tree is topped
for the power lines,
the emptiness afterwards is
inhabited by a green
throb of leaves

Like the vividness we feel about
someone just dead,
the gap,
shivers with presence.

I was hooked in no time flat! Shaw's capacity for noticing prophetic murmerings in the fallen world, even in the unsightly nubs left by the power line company, exceeded all my expectations. For me, cutting tree limbs to make space for power lines was a kind of "necessary evil," but for Shaw, it was a moment to contemplate the "shoot" that arises from the "stump of Jesse" (Isaiah 11). It is such spiritual attentiveness to the going-ons around her that has made Shaw one of the premier Christian poets of our age.

During the holiday season, I’ve revisited one of Shaw’s older works, Widening Light: Poems on the Incarnation (Harold Shaw, 1984) and received tremendous spiritual benefit from it. Here’s a snippet from “Mary’s Song,” a poem that captures some sense of the mystery we call the Incarnation.

Quiet he lies,
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world…

Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to the earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

1 comment:

jessica said...

Hi....
Thanks for sharing information with us..nice blog.
Cheer


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Jessica
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