Saturday, June 8, 2024

Seven Stanzas Of Easter


Do you read John Updike? I don't, but I do like this:

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

You'll be amused to know my Treasurer, a Vietnam vet artillery captain, forbids the use of simile and metaphor in sermons. "Don't do it," he says, "Or I'll leave." He has a point. Either we believe or we don't, and that's just it.



LL said...

Metaphors are an important part of the preacher's tool chest. How can you get by without them?

Old NFO said...

Belief is always the 'key'.

Dad of Six said...
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Dad of Six said...

I have not read Mr. Updike but I like this prose.

Seamus1962 said...

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, granting life.


LSP - thank you for reminding me of Updike’s work.

Sounds like you have a great leader in your parish.

LSP said...

RHSM, metaphor and simile are a grand thing. My Treasurer, no small rank, told me, "I left the Presbyterian Church because of metaphor." He was an artillery captain in Vietnam and went on to run an oil and gas analysis firm out of Houston. All about keeping it real.

LSP said...

We're sunk without it, NFO.

LSP said...

You know, DOS, I like this poem too. He wrote it, apparently, in response to a Lutheran Men's Retreat he'd been less than impressed by.

LSP said...

Seamus, we do, the former Provost of Baylor.

He makes me feel most ill-educated!