The following is pretty rough cut, direct from lip to mike. It started like plain speech, but worked its way into the rhythmic cadence of a singing preacher. (I was feeling black) I’m sure, If you’d seen me doing it-- shouting and singing down the road At 70mph – you would have thought me odd – But then?
In one sense – this isn’t “pure” praise – It’s hard, when you know you are going for a “product” not to insert the stuff you want folks to hear. I borrowed from the bones in my soul. But as far as genuine and gut felt, this is pretty close. – I could work it a bit or whittle it down into poems (You’ve seen a few) – but then I wanted to present the raw materials. In time I’d like to work this into an epic poem celebrating the ongoing and expansive artistry of Jesus.
As is, some parts may read pantheistic. I am not a pantheist - nor do I see God (apart from incarnation) as having blood and bone and brain, nor do I see God as some sum total of awareness - He is far larger, distinct and Other, and not a voyeur living through our tarnished eyes, … however, I am trying to come to grips with what it means to be "In God - In whom we live and have our being.” David spoke of God, as riding chariots of cloud. Would he have us to see Zeus? I doubt it. Any confusion here has to do with the limits of language, and the vigor of my outburst.
Here is Your tapestry upon the ground … trillions of roots, arrayed and twined like shafts of broken marble, everywhere the straw or stringy wet wood fiber, roots running like careening rockets or spitting rocks with strings… I see above, grass all lifted up like mown-down trees, or exploding into mobile sculpture . --- Sometimes I think of what it would take to make a tree – or a weed -- if we didn't have cellulose. I try to sculpt some thing from wire or from plastic. It won't be the tree we need, if poured from cement. The thing must be mobile and reaching. Capable of wind. I think of the tensile strength needed to hoist and hold the branches and the waving solar panels. I consider the roots, and the tower, all without the guide wires of a pole. Or I think of the weeds all springy and green. What would it take to duplicate the look?--- Build me a string that splits into a dozen crowns, and waves a floral head without breaking at the weld.
And here below, I think the slugs that slime across the blades, or more -- fierce beaks and swords, all kinds of terrific armor. Instruments of savage breaking jaw. Mouths that look like vise grips, or pliers, or some weird robot arms.
I'm thinking now of Jesus' mind as applied to the tapestry along the ground. This pan-a-blanket of insect. We see His great work as showcased in the mind and body of man, but what lavish variation is poured into this primitive veneer. What kind of play. I think of the wings, the body shapes, the colors. Neon armor. Eyes fracturing the light and sprayed like mist across the ground.
Should He in one day spray the heavens with light – stir the galaxies like coffee -- then one day later, spill the seas with plankton, and then the next, weave the ground with life as numerous as stars! Man looks like an afterthought!
And here is something of a trick. Many of these things that creep, fly, or wave across the ground, are not a thing unto themselves. They seem ready-matched with flower, like weights in an elaborate mobile. Not only did He drape a swim of plants, a bath of bees, whatever…but that whole complex web of interaction and dependency. A web laid out in a moment in its perfection. He thinks at once the tree and the beetle housed beneath its bark. He thinks at once the tree and the flow of bird into its branches. He thinks the taste to please the bird. Did He think of the beetle-eating bird, and make its brain fit for finding pleasure in the taste? Does He think the tree and then the talon fit to clasp? Does He dream one day the light, and then the eye? Or first the eye, and then the light, filling it with power.
Does He dream the sea and then the fin, or first the fin and then the wave? Does He hold the rainbow back, for later use … or stamp it first on side of trout? Does He dream of popcorn, then create the rules for cumulus? Does He think of sugar in the stem? Does He dream the maple tree with syrup -- then smell waffles in His mind? Does He dream the sugar cane, with the pleasure of children in mind? Does He dream the grass and then the cow with chambers? Does He dream the Rex with thoughts of filling children's books and roar, or more, an object for their crayons? Does He see little girls loving horses and then Black Beauty? Does He see those fishes all puffed up and poured out with spines floating from strings? Does He see shells in fish tanks? ---- Do You see insect collections? Do You see pressed flowers lamenting a love lost? Do You see the red-man with the buffalo strewn over his head in a dance around the fire? Or stalking beasts with bow bent back? Do you dream Sierra Club and beautiful calendars and Ansel Adams? Did You make chemical contributions to the chemistry to make silver halide burn black and share that sky so deeply?
Did You think the rubber for our tires ... the sand melted that should be glass ? Did You make the bees specifically to hone the honey dripping onto my tongue ? Did you wish to make the sea a salt, so that You might call upon it once for an illustration? Did You dream the application of oak, or maple, or mahogany? Did You plan in Your mind the cut that they should take before the carpenter – the wild bending grooves, or tone, or dark ...or the grain that You should one day hold within Your hand? Did You plan the marble made from great convolute of pressure? Did You dream the deluge for oil? Were You spinning thorns in Your mind before eternity and time? Did You dream the meat of beef or pig or chicken, catfish and fish, with an idea for clean or unclean, with the idea of meat in my stomach? Did You dream the hair of Rapunzel? Did You dream in advance the skin bouquet -- brown, black, and white in advance? Did You dream the quill pen, hold a single bird in Your mind for the pleasure of John Hancock? Did You think of the hawk or the eagle wing or (goose?) to make the quill? Do You diagram or fashion bones within Your "head"? Do You bend them, turn them like an artist, bend the different joints? Do You work with a blueprint ? Did You, in that former time--before time --hold all these ideas at once, or tune them? Do You tweak Your creation, rub out the pencil line, step back, examine, apply more pressure, chisel here … modify, or even allow the creature to modify and self "create" against the anvil of selection and survival? Did You pack the genes for latter flourish?
Did Your idea for anything occur in time ... before, or on the day, of its creation? Did You work the combinations -- test them like "a computer" before they should occur -- or do You create on whim and let the thing mutate and settle. Were You ever struck with whimsy, or idea, or creative rush…? Is the size of the sun essential -- Did You do the math, and could it have been another ? … Did You make the moon just so, to set against the sun that we might see an eclipse? Did You think the tube of neck that is the goose -- or the gut of cat to sing under bow to Bach? (Oh, gross !) Did You dream the wind to fly a kite, or hold a kite (the bird)? Did You think of broken mountains with updraft? Did You pre-dream vultures? Do You tinker, try the tendon over here, bend the knee cap back, hold the breast, pull it out or sculpt it up, or pour it out in sublime line with fullness? Did You make the curvature of beak -- design or hear the resonance within? ...decide what should be appealing to a bat ?... decide what should drive a dog crazy? Did You dream the oak to flower pale, the orchid to go pink? Did You see with Spring, the varied shades of day?
Did You know this place, or lines on the map, before Eden : Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Russia, Vietnam, and Brazil, as ideas before the deluge? And what of me or they or us, that we should dwell in all these places? Was this moment right now known, before it happened? Do I walk into a day that You have always known? Do You hold a single sun within Your eye, or hold some billions moving through the world in different spots? …. Do You catch every sight with us, or look down from above? Did You plant a single tree, a trillion seeds, or all at once let the earth break forth like hair coming from the skin of a dog -- but quick? Did You weave the sod with rock, and stick, and dirt and worm? Are they stitched and growing with a blink, or did they sprout? Were apples ready to go right then -- or in years; were they created at once -- young, old, and medium? Did anything come aged or was everything brand-spanking new? Were the leaves the leaves of spring, or riper deep; will they know a fall this year? Do You know about the sun, or something of its heat? Does the word burn or freeze have meaning to You? Do You know discomfort -- and what about this pain? Do You build a neuron, but not have a neuron? Or if our eye is a lesser eye, are our nerves like lesser nerves? We know that You are sight, but how do You comprehend our limitation? Does magma run through Your presence like hot blood? Do You hear the music of Tchaikovsky, or see ballerinas hidden in the form of Eve. Did Disney borrow some idea that was in Your soul when he brought down the first snowflake? Do You dream the skull beneath the skin, the tone beneath the shin, make the blade to cast the shin, see muscles wrapped about the bones, dream a myriad of tones, dress our ears for headphones .... dream of coffee on our tongues, see the way that we should breathe with wonder at what has been made under? Do You hear or feel the sting of water in a cut? Do You dream the chill of water on the skin pulled taut with wind and spray? Do You know the touch of my beloved and all others? Do we wade through You like minnows at Your shins? Do You hear with us at once; are You with us, yet distant ... given sin? Do our voices all crowd into Your ears like tumult; are we all white noise? Do You hear my pleas alone and like no other, even as You do for every one who calls Your Name? Have You only seen and felt through Him? Were You with Him in there in Adam ... then cut? Do You weep through our eyes; is Your sorrow yet expressed? Do You laugh through our mouths, give milk through our chests? Do You feel the blood in our veins? Do You yet have blood? Are You now with blood or beyond it? Do You have in You the memory of thorns or whip or piercing pain? Are You in or behind my skin ... or, are You far from me because of sin? How do You both dwell in me but not with me? Has Your redemption made it such that, even now, as I am a man of unclean lips and unclean heart ... are You walking with me, Jesus ... are You there behind my eyes? Has your redemption made it such that even now, as I am a man of unclean lips and unclean heart, are you walking with me Jesus, are you there behind my eyes, is her brain and its twist and its anger apparent and living in you? Do you feel in her heart the hardness of stone, or the deep injury dressed as strength that is not strength but a scared wound of a bleeding heart Be there now with my bride, my beloved, my life melt on her heart and soften it to embrace me. ..... Let me be to You like one You shine on through. I pray for the day when every thought, every feeling, every train within my being ... is identical to Yours ... and I am absorbed in the fullness we were meant to be.