Lately, I’ve really been enjoying the work of North American poet Scott Cairns whose journey from Baptist to Presbyterian to Orthodox finds voice in poetic word. I’ve been reading his Philokalia: new and selected poems and thought I’d post just a few poems from this fantastic work which really is well worth buying. Here’s his poem entitled ‘To Himself’.
When in scripture we first meet God,
apparently He is talking to Himself,
or to that portion in His midst
which He has only lately quit
to avail our occasion.
In prayer, therefore, we become
most like Him, speaking what no one
else, if not He, will attend.
A book I borrowed once taught me
how in the midst of attendant
prayer comes a pause when The Addressed
requires nothing else to be said. Yes,
I witnessed once an emptying
like that; though what I saw was not
quite seen, of course. I suspected
nonetheless a silent Other
silently regarding me as if He
still might speak, but speak as to Himself.
That was yesterday, or many
years ago, and if it profit
anyone to imitate the terms
of that exchange, let the prior
gesture be extreme hollowing
of the throat, an inclination
to articulate the trouble
of a word, a world thereafter.