Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Way Out of Wilderness

"Icetrees" by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia

Bob Ambrose and Susan Richardson
Athens, Georgia
April 23, 2011; 
revised January 25, 2012

A remembrance and meditation 
on Susan's cross-country trek with her friend Thomas 
while attending a professional workshop 
at Lake Louise, December 2007.

When ice encrusts your goggles
and it's twenty five below,
when paths are sealed in darkness
so there’s no clear way to go,
then comes a time to drop the mask
to face the bitter wilderness
with fading strength, untested faith
through formless doubt to find a trace
the faintest track to follow out.

Sunlit paths descend in snow
through Rocky Mountain wilderness
from Tea House trail to valley floor
on frozen shores of Lake Louise
where distant lights in season shine
with promised warmth against the night,
and gliding there through majesty
we fill the silent snowy way
with joyful laughter, human song.
But time goes by and treks grow long
gray shadows close as ways wind on,
those winding endless ways we
take with dimming faith
and lowered face.
We press ahead
our eyes cast
and only then
the narrow path
emerges into openness
a clearing wide in winter peace
we lift our heads to gathering grace
and pause in awe of open sky where holy
visions crystallize as early evening stars
appear with undreamed wonders pressing
near, beyond all words but strangely
clear when set in stillness, white on white
so far from lodge at Lake Louise.

But winter trails dim well too fast
as eventide
folds into night
with stars alone
providing light
the world goes stark as ways fall dark
and beauty drains
from mortal sight
our silent prison
sealed in white.
While woods are lovely, dark and deep
when viewed from lodge
or well-groomed path,
sometime in life
will come a test
when woods turn into wilderness
where dark and deep
oppress the soul
and lovely turns
to creeping cold,
when minds hark back to life before
spent safe beside
the hearthstone fire
that burns and brightens
even now
in warmth, the lodge at Lake Louise.

As ice encrusts your goggles
it seeps inside your soul
and time compresses tightly
in a frozen snowy hell,
its icy heart, indifferent
to your choices and their toll.
So brave the cold,
embrace the pain
blue jewel of the night, and then
just let it go
and kneel down low
in God’s own time you may well find
faint traces in the snow to choose
and follow on
in willful trust
determined hearts will find a way
led by the arms of God to life
or to the arms of God to lie,
it matters not
in wilderness
resolve sustains despite your doubt:
you take a step
then take one more,
in time to find the lights ahead
no longer die with setting stars
but guide the path for frozen hearts
toward the lodge at Lake Louise.

A steady light still shines afar
through darkness into crippling doubt
sustaining souls through wilderness
for in its cold indifferent heart
will fear transform to grateful dance
to dawning life, a grant from God,
so let your stillness show the grace
reflecting hints of majesty
as snow-white peaks seen in the face
and placid depths of Lake Louise.

Years hence I’ll hold this blessed trek
with Thomas through the wilderness
in doubt and fear and final peace
more worthy than the warmest fire
by spacious hearth of grandest lodge.
From far away I’ll wander back
to ponder pathways in the night
and count myself the grateful lost
pursuing traces etched in white,
and reach that pathway’s end in time
forevermore the grateful found.

"Snow on Field" by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Compassion Lies Outside the Land

Athens, Georgia
January 13, 2012
For Karen Armstrong and the Charter for Compassion 
Poem notes and additional links are provided in my comment below.

When reptile brains assert command
and timid hearts give way to fear,
compassion lies outside the land.

When hate is staged and rage is planned,
mistrust is sewn, emotions steered,
our reptile core retains command.

When Roark sells his selfish brand
and liberality is jeered,
compassion lies outside the land.

When righteous dictates make demand 
to smite the stranger, scorn the queer,
then reptile spirit steals command.

When bleeding hearts begin to stand
against oppression, be of cheer:
compassion creeps upon the land.

When loving-kindness countermands
the ancient bonds that buttress fear,
then reptile brains release command,
compassion lies astride the land.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cosmology, Beyond the Elegant Equations

Athens, Georgia
January 8, 2012; revised November 16, 2015
See first comment for technical notes.

1. Cosmology

                              Once darkness was on the deep, the unformed void outside of time
                           where unmoved mover meditates, quantum foam collapses states
                                                   force fields quiver, random jitters
                                                               cohere in song - a lullaby   

from nothing
to be, its compulsion,
the new baby bubble
from multiverse mother
shatters bonds and breaks away
inflating space near warp speed ten
an instant in, homogeny, divine feng sui
stabilized and granted mass, six epochs passed
in seconds flat, new universe blown light years wide.

Those seconds stretch ten billion years, to be expands
to everything, an instance of the great I am whose moving
hand writes all it can of beauty, truth, and then moves on.

        Soon swallowed by advancing shadow, swelling faster
                       pushing farther, space expands till black holes
                           burst, their guts disperse, their ruins recede,
                                till darkness drives away the ashes, rends
                                               asunder what was wonder, what
                                                         once was expands to void
                                                             from which it came and
                                                                        darkness soothes
                                                                                      the deep

And so it goes. 
Shiva, sewn into space.
Destruction, woven from the womb.
Although the earth will end 
in fire,
our universe is doomed
to ice.

Photograph by David Noah,
Winterville, Georgia

2. Beyond the Elegant Equations

In primitive times the world was a slab 
adorned atop a working turtle 
who stood on a turtle 
who stood on a stack. 
Back then if you asked of the logical trap, 
it was turtles all the way down 

but not now. For equations will tell 
of a universe world which rides on a brane, 
inflates as a bubble 
begat by a bubble. 
Though knowledge is gained, 
the pattern’s the same, it’s bubbles 

all the way back. So blessings to minds 
that trouble and prod 
the harsh holy realm 
that hovers dark waters 
to find the light in hidden depths 
and chase unknowns

with home-spun nets. They stand tall 
on shallow rafts 
and cast their best equations wide 
to sieve deep currents 
with coarse mesh, snagging 
facts but missing flow, 

from whence the mind of love is borne 
from endless void before beginning 
to an age beyond unending, 
in the whole between two voids 
where Mona Lisa starts her smile, 
B Minor Mass awaits its Bach,

and loving-kindness incubates 
the force which binds worlds, 
emerging in yearnings of flesh 
and feathers, scales and silicon, 
whose dwelling haunts the outer 
edge of elegant equations.