Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Scott Cairns

The more poems I offer in this series -- going on two years next week! -- the more ways I run out of to say, "This poet needs no introduction from me..." In that spirit, let me actually not introduce Scott Cairns to you, except to point you to his interview last year with The Other Journal, and to say that he is in his mid-50s and teaches as a professor of English in Missouri, and that he has written on suffering.

I have no doubt that fellow Greek students and theologians alike will find themselves smiling and nodding at the poem below. Cairns beautifully captures the fragility and hopeful impossibility of this singularly powerful word.

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Adventures in New Testament Greek: Apocatastasis

By Scott Cairns

Among obscurer heresies, this dearest rests
within a special class of gross immoderation,
the heart of which reveals what proves these days to be
a refreshing degree of filial regard.

Specifically, the word is how we apprehend
one giddy, largely Syriac belief that all
and everyone will be redeemed -- or, more nearly,
have been redeemed, always, have only to notice.

You may have marked by now how late Semitic habits
are seldom quite so neighborly, but this ancient one
looks so downright cordial I shouldn't be surprised
if it proved genesis for the numbing vision

Abba Isaac Luria glimpsed in his spinning
permutations of The Word: Namely, everything
we know as well as everything we don't in all
creation came to be in that brief, abysmal

vacuum The Holy One first opened in Himself.
So it's not so far a stretch from that Divine Excess
to advocate the sacred possibility
that in some final, graceful metanoia He

will mend that ancient wound completely, and for all.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you're reading some Cairns. And 'The End of Suffering' is one of the best books I've read this year. Do read it if you get a chance.

    Peace brother, and blessings as the school year begins,