22 February 2009

Twilight Poem

It's poetry Sunday at Daylight Atheism. The poem this time has some good thoughts and imagery, but at first I didn't care for what I took to be a lack of texture. Now that I re-read it, I realize that the texture is that of a whispering desert night, and I like it much better with that realization. Two short excerpts below:

The sea of sage-brush, breaking against the purple hills far away.
And white alkali-flats, which shimmer in the mirage as beautiful blue lakes, constantly retreating.
The mirage paints upon the sky, rivers with cool, willowy banks;
You can almost hear the lapping of the water,
But they flee mockingly, leaving the thirsty to perish.
The Desert cares no more for the death of the tribes than for the death of the armies of black crawling crickets.
Silence. Invincible. Impregnable. Compelling the soul to stand forth to be questioned.
Dazzling in the sun, whiter than snow, I see the bones
Of those who have existed as I now exist. The bones are here; where are they who lived?

~Charles Erskine Scott Wood

Those last four lines come eerily close to thoughts I have been having recently. Yet I remain unconvinced that the physical world is all that there is. I don't know what else there is, nor if that "else" is reachable by human beings. Three things stop me from drawing the curtain over the possibility. (1) A voice I heard after my Great Grandma's death. Not a clear voice, just a barest whisper. It came once and never again. I certainly could have imagined it, or it could have been an odd conjunction of real sounds that somehow combined into my name. But I remain uncertain. (2) More recently, the sight of my grandma's body. I saw it, and knew instantly that "she" was not there. Whatsoever she had been was no longer in that body. Mayhap it simply vanishes at death, yet... *shrugs* (3) The I-Ching. It is very strange to feel you're having a conversation with a book, yet that is what the I-Ching provides me. Perhaps the conversation is only with my own subconscious interpretations of the words ... yet I remain uncertain.

None of those instances are meant to convince anyone else, only to lay out the basis for my own thinking. I have no firm conclusion either direction, except, perhaps, calling out anyone who claims certainty as a charlatan. All things return to That-Which-Is... do any of them return in a form recognizable to those from whom they have departed, or even recognizable to whatever is left of their "selves"? That I cannot answer. But in my more relaxed moments, I cannot help but think, "To die would be an awfully big adventure." (~Peter Pan, Hook) (Note: it's not an adventure I have any wish to rush into, in case I just worried anyone. But it is interesting to wonder why those who claim to know what lies beyond also have no wish to rush there...)

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