Four Last Things
A Hopeful New Formula for Meditation
Not Death and Judgment, Heaven, Hell,
but all that now is going well,
for now forever is the fact,
the timeless, timely, timeworn act.
Not Hell and Heaven, Judgment, Death,
but final praise from all with breath,
a resonance of lasting joy
that no discordance can destroy.
Not a term that Judgment ends
since life is all that love intends,
with memory intact in hope,
the knot that fastens every rope.
Not a postponed end-time Heaven.
The last is present, always given,
and those who live this truth are blessed,
and meditating love is best.
The Bible in 75 Words
God makes all,
a place secluded.
Good fruit waits
then a project.
is the object.
and rises, winner
for contrite sinner.
as cosmic city
Old is New
for God is witty.
His church will fill
and so correct
the ancient curse.
All is offered,
Each is loved.
is fully proved.
Time the Tiger
Time is a tiger, pundits say,
a carnivore eating one’s flesh away,
Though some might call it an omnivore,
consuming whatever has come before.
Yes, Time is a beast most threatening.
To make escape one must take wing—
With hope for what does not decay,
with hope that death ends night, not day.
Yet Time is a creature of reckoning.
The moment’s dear, ever-beckoning.
Without the threat of one’s undoing
who could enjoy all time’s renewing?
So look for tigers prowling Heaven,
curling around God’s ankles, even.
Living beasts lie by the central throne.
Tigerish time is God’s very own.
Since the Irish foot is a triple foot,
as was proven by Thomas Moore,
and the Rose of Tralee, though cultured abroad,
must dance to a waltz-time score,
Let us praise the pulse of the one-beat-in-three
and avoid the thumping iambic.
The passions of Erin deserve to be served
in a measured and pure dithyrambic.
There’s no sort of song that doesn’t take life
from the throb of the bright anapestic,
whether ballad or hymn or soldiering song
or the lay of some wonder fantastic.
For many a smile of true love was won
with a straight-from-the-heart Irish lyric,
though many a grief there followed too,
and many a smile satiric.
And blood is stirred by the triple beat
as well as by march in two;
“Bold Fenian Men” is a jolt to the pulse
with its call to the brave-hearted few,
While O’Carolan the Irishman
made the Yankees play the game
when they tap a toe to their national song
with its animated strain.
From ancient time the threefold count
has been the frame we inherit
for the Holy Book marks ages three,
of Father and Son and the Spirit.
And three was the count of Adam’s sons—
three sons for Noah as well.
Three kings it was at the manger’s side,
and three crosses on the hill.
And one-in-three is the Trinity
that spins out the world in a song,
so one-out-of-three is the proper beat
of the heavenly sing-along.
A Creedal ABC
A is for Adam, the man of red earth.
Adam the second gives time its new birth.
B is for Beetle, of a minuscule throng.
Fine tuning in nature put them in the song.
C is for Cross, where God dies for sinners.
Love’s paradox makes losers the winners.
D is for Dragons of flux and of fire.
Messiah tames beasts of disordered desire.
E is Ear, more apt than the eye.
Word is eternal; appearances lie.
F is for Future, both fixed and uncertain.
Faith sees its wall as no more than a curtain.
G is for Gooseflesh, the fleshly recalling
of old impositions, of fears not for telling.
H is for Hellhole, creation perverse.
Only an unchosen bliss could be worse.
I is for Idol, the surrogate good,
accepted, like choosing one’s refuse for food.
J is for Judgment, the doom of just deeming.
Justice insures a sum more than seeming.
K is for Knots, their tying in time.
The past and the future are never the same.
L is for Lurch and the sinister left.
To reconcile sides is the heavenly craft.
M is for Memory, the record of time,
and meaning’s the pattern when old and new rhyme.
N is for Nothing, for Node, and for Nought.
Each is a something in the crafting by thought.
O is for Olivet’s hill outside Zion.
A “Yes” offered there means Earth can join Heaven.
P is for Plenitude, the all that is given.
Yet gifts must be taken, the offered good chosen.
Q is for Questing, behind and before,
all the proof needed that less is not more.
R is for Jesus’ much-promised Return,
and are not his advents both once and again?
S is for Silence, of death and of loss,
and, too, of one’s awe before God on a cross.
T is for Time, the measure of motion,
a river forever, while Ever’s the ocean.
U is for Unction, the oil of the Spirit,
a promise to all who the Kingdom inherit.
V is for Voice, that investment of breath
that opens for others a depth beyond depth.
W is for Wisdom that came before world,
for words that existed before any were heard.
X is the symbol in Algebra’s lesson:
the answer is always concealed in the question.
Y is for Year of the Great Jubilee.
Messiah proclaims it: the bound may be free.
Z is for Zion at Eternity’s Center.
City gates welcome the wise who would enter.
The biggest sounds, of course,
are those that never totally fade away,
like the cosmogenic noise
that’s still quite audible
as a hissing in our radio telescopes.
And there’s that clanging of the earth,
when the death-star struck and the calving
of the moon occurred.
The after-resonance, I think,
is the rumble of the mountains
undersea, a sound now water-borne,
and heard in sea caves
and as a note in the
full register of waves
on any moon-filled night.
And there’s the lingering message
of the superstorm that froze the wooly mammoths,
in their tracks, the food unchewed
inside their tusky mouths—
the wind which now still howls on high ridges
and as a river of jetstream-sound
shrill in the highest atmosphere.
But, for faithful hearers, what’s of greater consequence
is the after-resonance of the mighty wind
of Pentecost, the lasting homily
of all good news spoken,
God speaking the gamut of His potency.
And, for hopeful sorts,
the coming cosmos-filling sound
that follows on the final rebel’s giving up
and Hell is emptied,
and everything with insides and a voice shouts out
“Hooray! Let’s hear it
for the world-engendering Bang,
let’s hear it for the God who spoke
both question and its answer in this Singularity!”
End of Excerpt (pp. 7-16 in original)