We had been driving in the car when Sera first mentioned the idea to me, so I was paying more attention to the road in front of me than the girl in the backseat with dreams of saving the ducks. But there in the Nature Center — the place in which she had earned her bird-watching badge just a year earlier — with all eyes on her, I saw it: reflected in her face was the image of a loving God who cares for and sustains creation.
At every turn, I find that I know and believe that artists matter significantly for the ways they capture a culture, how they generate artifacts that point to the values and priorities and perspective of a generation, and how they wave the flag on overlooked issues. But over the past few months, I have wanted to know better why the poet, specifically, matters. Not just those who write and publish poems literally, but those who serve as a voice in the wilderness — the seers, the prophets, those who get something that others can’t yet get.
Each of us recites a poem. We talk about current events, and tell stories from our personal journeys. The sound of crickets is broken by the bell tolling for Compline. We realize we’ve lost track of time, so we rush Brother Paul back to the Abbey for the service.
Later, I will recall the blend of bread and wine and storytelling with prayer and the observing of silence. The rhythm of the afternoon, I think, might be a good model for the cadence of Antler’s work.
Once upon a time, a man and woman lived as caretakers in a garden ripe with mangoes and tomatoes and figs. I try to conjure up an image of cultivation without snails and squirrels and rabbits attacking my plants, without weeds demanding my constant attention, without the threat of too much water cracking my tomatoes and not enough withering the plant. Did Adam and Eve sing the fruit into bloom?
I can offer some of “my” time, maybe just my right arm’s worth. Or I can dive into something demanding and sacrificial, a place where I sense the Holy Spirit is leading. Jump in with both feet. But the whole dance? Impossible. I just really don’t know how to do that. I’m diffident by nature, and guarded. It’s unfamiliar, I’ve got no rhythm, and I look stupid. I am not a natural at this. I will lose my Self somehow, and my dignity along with it. Plus, I don’t even know exactly what I have to offer, or how to give it. What are the dance steps again?