A flashforward from the interior dimension:
my wrinkled hand threads through strands
of dark hair— grandchildren; the little eddies
the hum of praise buoying the spirit on my bed
as I lay there dying. The evidence of things
unseen slip between the fingers but sometimes
the prayer of a teenager on Wednesday night
lights the hidden forest tucked between dark
slabs of mountain on fire and the muddy valley
seen through mirrors dimly ablaze. It’s why
you gather wood— In college, I kneeled between
pews; a couple of bony projections debating
the tiles of old. We gathered weekly to prostrate
like long boughs heavy with snow seen on
the side of the road; pyres we would build: some
standing tall like rocky spires in the desert and
others layered square and buttressed with
arches; others still like mustard seed huts held
in the palm. That night and all nights I saw myself
gathering oak and maple through life’s carnival
crests and day-common drab: I saw myself
speaking high mutterings in laundromat seats,
redeeming sharp cringes in the shower; I was
uttering promises between her contractions,
jaw-dripping pleas before the results of the test.
Oh prayer alight! Summon the cycle of vicious
affection— the hissing of thickets and crackling of
timber; the lullabied sputtering and smacking
of heat on our cheeks; and the glisten of sun-
tickling tongues— Even this!— I've tasted dying
and the ouch of the burn. Mga apo, seek
substance and impinge the fingerprint upon
the eye; Savor promise and peek at prolepsis.
Don’t drown the man but kindle our wooden hope!
- “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
- In college, our church had a weekly prayer meeting every Wednesday in which one could freely attend. We would start at 9pm and leave when you felt it was right. Some would sit on a pew and pray. Others would kneel. Others would stand with hands on the side or hands in the air. Some would even find a corner or off-hallway to pray alone.
- “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
- I learned church pews are made of oak and maple.
- “Faith does not just feel confident that this is coming some day. Faith has spiritually laid hold of and perceived and tasted that it is real. And this means that faith has the substance or the nature of what is hoped for in it. Faith’s enjoyment of the promise is a kind of substantial downpayment of the reality coming.” (John Piper)
- “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
- “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:23-24)
- Positive feedback loops – abound in medicine; at the molecular level, hormonal level, and physiological; when feedback loops go wrong, as in heart failure and kidney failure, reinforcement of a pathological cycle is often called vicious.
- “They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” (Daniel 3)
- “her contractions” – On October 21, 2019, our first child was born.
- “Let us enter into the heart of the thicket.” (“Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ” by Saint John of the Cross)
- “Mga apo” means grandchildren in Tagalog
- “Unlike technical knowledge, which can be communicated through the intellect alone, spiritual wisdom must be experienced and realized by your whole being—head and heart, body and spirit. When David sang, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good,’ he was uttering a Zen experience.” (John C. H. Wu)
- “If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prizes which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
- “Oh living flame of love that tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! if it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!” (“The Living Flame of Love” by Saint John of the Cross)