Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dickinson's "I Never Saw a Moor"

“I never saw a moor. I never saw the sea.” - E. Dickinson

I was out the other night, walking, thinking, standing under the lights wondering. People all around me, throngs rushing, busy movement, faces passing, no one stopping.
“Yet know I how the heather looks, and what a wave must be.” - E. Dickinson

I saw someone I knew, an old acquaintance here in Taiwan. The person didn't see me, surrounded by others, quite attached and distracted. That's fine. If I had said hello, it would have been an awkward conversation. Rather, I just watched, watched this world, this little snow globe of hubbub, pass by. We hadn't spoken since this summer when I was in Europe, walking through the Vatican and marveling at Michelangelo.
“I never spoke with God, nor visited in heaven.” -E. Dickinson

As this person passed, whom once we hade been reasonably close, I started looking after that, it's not hard to do, just paying attention to all the little splendid atomies around me. The man standing under the lights, the woman with child slurping noodles on the back of a motor scooter. The black sky hiding the stars under grime and city gleam... knowing that there is so much to the world that is speaking to me, I just have to listen.
“Yet certain am I of the spot as if the chart were given.” –E. Dickinson

It came up in class later that week, Dickinson's I never Saw a Moor. I love that poem, this shy woman, this shut in, who lost her heart to a married man when he rejected her, and went inside and locked the door and the world away, opting to write poetry instead. She understood. Oh yes, Emily understood, that God is always talking to us. Even though sometimes we haven't the strength to answer, that there in the seas and fields and stars... God is talking. Yeah... I hear ya grumblin'. Maybe you're not listening at all...like in that famous Sistine Chapel I walked beneath this summer. White bearded God riding on a cloud reaching down at Adam, who lazily lifts a finger without a care...You know, you don't have to travel to exotic places and amazing locations to see God. The fact is, that God is all around us. The burning sunset, the intricacies of science, the complexities of sound and emotional connection, the geometry of space- even the little things we take for granted... like old friends passing by us in the night. Peole we once knew so dear. All of it, all of the emotion and logic and beauty and explanation and design no matter the size, is God, whatever God is, speaking to us. I love that idea. So thanks for the poem, Emily... and you poets, keep writing. I'm listening. My strength lies in you.

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