A couple of weeks ago, as we were driving somewhere, my son asked me to turn on the song “Zombie” by Cranberries. As we listened to the song, I suddenly was overwhelmed with a sense of profound connection with the entire humanity. I felt connected to all the 7+ billion of people on this planet. I felt completely one with that huge, multifarious organism called “humankind”. That took me by complete surprise.
I don’t think that I have never experienced that sense of unity with humanity before. It was very meaningful to me. A day or two later, I wrote this poem.
The poem’s uneven and somewhat jagged construction and varying rhyming schemes are meant to be expressive of the sense of beauty and diversity which exists in this world. Some stanzas and even some lines overlap and dovetail with one another, and this is done on purpose. This is illustrative of how different persons and people groups dovetail with one another to form one symbiotic organism. The poem’s cadence builds its pace to a crescendo to highlight a sense of urgency before the final stanza.
IMAGE OF GOD
Religion with its plastic smile
Numbs our mind, and rapes our soul,
And leaves a gaping, bleeding hole
Where our heart once used to be.
It builds big buildings. It produces
A stream of talks and printed pages.
It worships books with guilded edges
Which can’t legitimize its crimes.
It lets us keep our greed, our judgments,
To Western sins it dulls our mind
Shuts off compassion, leaves us blind
To human suffering next door,
I used to read a lot of French classics growing up (Maupassant, Stendhal, Flaubert, etc.) They talk about a certain way of life, extolling a certain subset of humanistic values. While I appreciate their cultural significance – not all of those works line up with the ethics that I personally aspire to.
Modern Hollywood productions with a romantic storyline largely follow the same suit. The problem is that they usually tell you only the first part of the story. Nearly all of their stories end with budding romance. There isn’t a high demand for movies which would teach you how to sustain the fire of love for decades, through the highs and lows of life. Movies like “Bicentennial Man” are more of an exception rather than the rule. Script writers are reluctant to tell you what happens later down the road, when you live from one conquest to the next one, from cradle to the grave. And this is what this poem is about.
The kind of love which stands above division, judgment, and offense is usually fairly difficult to cultivate and practice. When it becomes our heart culture, however, it has a very real potential to open people up to what we have to say. Then we can usher those we thus love into the very presence of Jesus, so that he can do through us for them what no educational or correctional institution can. But we can get to that point only when we begin with unconditional love and acceptance on the most fundamental human level, before anything else can be offered.
Am I there? Not quite yet, but I know that I am on my way there. I also experientially know that place of judgmentalism and misplaced pride which is the polar opposite of agape-love. That’s a place to which I have absolutely no intention of ever regressing to.
We love playing it safe and talking in generalities. But what if we allow ourselves to get more specific with more general statements such as “God so loved the world”? What would that look like? The poem below attempts to unpack that Scriptural verse within the context of years 2016-2017.
In my last post, I talked about our desert experience with God. Some Christian mystics call it “the dark night of the soul”. Here’s a poem about what the beginning of that experience may look like for you:
UNPLUGGED FROM THE MATRIX
He was quite respectful
And played by the rules.
He honored as wisdom
The prattling of fools.
Their message was solemn –
It sounded like faith,
But smelled like religion,
And tasted like death.
It’s a very different experience to know the Bright Figure by name (vis-a-vis the last stanza)
Dashing hard against glass walls,
So impenetrable and thick –
It doesn’t seem like I can escape
From the self-imposed prison of standards and rules.
I look through the glass, and I see the bright sun,
The colors and smells of everyday life.
A fresh-painted bedroom, a just-printed book,
A cleanly bathed baby, playfully cooing.