Shedding Light

Poem: “After Reading T’ao Ch’ing, I wander Untethered Through the Short Grass” by Charles Wright, from Appalachia.


Dry spring, no rain for five weeks.
Already the lush green begins to bow its head and sink to its

Already the plucked stalks and thyroid weeds like insects
Fly up and trouble my line of sight.

I stand inside the word here
As that word stands in its sentence,
Unshadowy, half at ease.

Religion’s been in a ruin for over a thousand years.
Why shouldn’t the sky be tatters,
lost notes to forgotten songs?

I inhabit who I am, as T’ao Ch’ing says, and walk about
Under the mindless clouds.
When it ends, it ends. What else?

One morning I’ll leave home and never find my way back—
My story and I will disappear together, just like this.


My post on an NYT op-ed by Jesuit priest James Martin, SJ drew some interesting comments, including one from Father Martin himself. This marks the second time that a post of mine that was hastily dashed off in the minutes before class has drawn attention. And me with my typos showing. (At least my header looked good — the blogger equivalent, I suppose, of having clean undies on when you get in a car accident.) Not to mention that my self-interested intent to use Mother Teresa’s long crisis of faith to my own ends (as ammunition against that group that annoys me, people who think that only God-believers have morals, and that nonbelievers have no reason to act with fairness towards other) and my use of some NYT-generated verbiage weren’t very fair to Father Martin’s intent.

I am too practical to concern myself with belief much; I am an agnostic and a truth-based, proof-based being, so I see no reason to worry (yet) with the matter of God-belief and afterlife-belief. At least not as young and immortal-feeling as I am now, at 38. And as I have no gifts of the sort that shed light on these matters, I leave the work to those like Father Martin, and my fellow agnostic and co-religionist of sorts, Chet Raymo, who do have them.

Coincidentally, Dr. Raymo has blogged for the past few days on the matters of faith and religion, even posting a nonreligious personal creed as his blog entry for today.

It’s not the first time that I have resonated with Dr. Raymo, who, on the day of a deep, dark crisis of belief in myself as a person who had anything to contribute to the world, sent me a short, friendly email of thanks for support of his site. So on the day that I, with great uncertainty, decided that dropping science and studying writing would actually bring me closer to the natural world, not farther from it, I received an unsolicited email from my great philosopher-hero, a novelist/astronomer.

It was as close to a miracle as a nonbeliever could ask, and I could not help but take it as a sign that I was doing the right thing. Check out Rayno’s site and his credo here.

I haven’t blogged much lately because I am taking 12 credit hours now, a full-time load for the first time ever, and as Week 2 of the fall semester ends I think I dare to say that I can handle it. Things are going well. I am studying things I am good at now, and am less rushed, happier, and have even had a few evenings free to rest, pet the cats, watch a documentary. I adore my political science class and am perfectly happy with all the others. Even writing for the college newspaper, a requirement for all Mass Comm majors, turned out to be an unexpected pleasure when a pain-in-the-ass professor-profile assignment ended up becoming a lovely encounter with a most interesting woman, Cynn Chadwick.

(Look at the character in her face.)

Much of the reason I haven’t posted much this week is that I have been writing about her. My deadline for the completed profile is Sunday at midnight, so I hope to post it here over the weekend, and also plan to market it to the local alternative weekly once Professor Chadwick’s new book comes out next year.

I live my life so that I never quite have to choose between writer, student and blogger, but nonetheless my block of blogging time is done. Jen out; I’ve got an article to write.

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