There was an inaudible but deep sigh from the small audience as the poet read his two-lined poem entitled “Compline.” Something had pricked our spirits. I felt the whisper of tears, a recognition, as if an uncrafted longing had been brought to life through another writer’s pen:
“Into thy hands I commend my spirit. It fits in them Exactly.”
Another line from a later poem caught my attention: “We are released from prayer into wonder, into longed-for space.”
Sometimes I feel we trod the same paths of prayer until they carve valleys between mountains. Some would argue that this is good, that it is merely persistence. That could be true sometimes, but perhaps other times we need to look up from the path and head up the mountain. Prayer as wonder opens up possibilities in our spirits and understanding, reorients us to God who does not fit into our neatly packaged categories.
As Jonah put it after his brief ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ experience in the big fish: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (2:8).
Our Christian routines can certainly become idols—may we be freed from them into spaces of grace.
Poems “Compline” and “Beethoven Quartet Op. 132” taken from: Christopher Southgate, Rain Falling by the River: New and Selected Poems of the Spirit, London: Canterbury Press, 2017.