Sunday, April 8, 2007

An Easter Poem

Bishop Kirk Smith gave the sermon at Trinity Cathedral this morning on the reality of the resurrection as an historic event. He had the following poem printed in our bulletins, which captures the thrust of what Bishop Smith had to say, and what I believe:

Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

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-mache,
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.

2 comments:

MadPriest said...

Yes. One of my favourites. Thank you.
Mind you, I would be grateful if you would explain what the heck "Max Planck's quanta" is for those of us less cultured types.

Chuck Blanchard said...

Mad Priest:

Thanks for your coment. Max Planck was one of the key creators of quantum mechanics, and one of the consequences of quantum mechanics is that all essential elements of matter (such as electrons) can be described as probabilty wave functions.

I think that Updike misuses the term "quanta"--as quanta is not a thing but a concept. I suspect that Updike was trying to refer to the most up to date science and missed the boat somewhat.