Gospel & Universe
Canticle to the Stars
This page contains two poems. The first uses the "Canticle of the Sun" by Saint Francis in a sort of agnostic prayer — directed at the mystery of the universe, and at the hopeful notion that this mystery is involved in the greater mystery of God. The second poem imagines God as the Maker of infinite worlds.
Sorella Luna - Quadrant by Quadrant
Nessun Uomo è Degno di Menzionarti
No Man is Worthy to Mention You
(Saint Francis, "Canticle of the Sun")
I don't pray to a God that doesn't exist;
I pray to a God that I hope does exist.
Why would my doubt bother God?
Fundamentalists say it does
but they chart a course that reason can't follow
because it circumvents science and history.
Why would God deny the facts of nature or the course of time?
Laudato si, mi Signore, per frate Uento
et per aere et nubilo et sereno et onne tempo,
per lo quale, a le Tue creature dài sustentamento
Praised be to You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
(Saint Francis, "Canticle of the Sun")
It may be necessary to apologize for a million things
but science, history, and nature aren't among them.
It may be necessary to apologize for blind faith
but not faith itself
for faith is the other side of the coin
that the undecided toss
so many times
and it almost always turns up tails
so many goats
and not so many lambs
so many questions and quandaries
and never a capitalized Answer.
I've resigned myself to the notion that I may never find
what other people are looking for
yet I also suspect that behind each of their prayers lies a question
and every question opens out into a realm of questions
large as this universe
and other universes yet to scan.
In our unending quest, religion gives us a pause
in which to explore a special form of charity, love, and sacrifice.
There's no arguing with that path.
But if along the Christian path one learns to limit God's love
to only that which one loves
or to only those who one understands
then one might pause again.
God isn't in the business of onlies.
One might think again of the cross and Saint Francis
and leave the judgments to God
or to his angels
or to the courts of this world.
One might help to make the laws more just,
to help make the world make sense
by helping others
not onto a limited path that few can follow
through the eye of a needle
but onto a path everyone can follow,
down the thoroughfares of democracy
civility, forgiveness, and humility
second chances and open institutions
to call Sister J a Brother
like Saint Francis did
Laudato si, mi Signore, per sor'Acqua,
la quale è multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
to call Sister Moon a priest and a woman the pope
opening the door to the other half of the human race;
to stop guarding privilege in the name of tradition
and to recognize that some traditions belong
in the wastebasket of time.
Quadrant by Quadrant
God sat back in his easy chair and laughed
a jovial laugh
when he saw the atheist
with no reason beyond the firing of his neurons
and with no vision, save the seeing of his eyes
proclaim the infinite richness of the universe
Long Before and Long After
And he laughed when he heard the pundits puzzle
over the idea of eternity
and how in the heavens space could go on forever without end
He laughed so hard
that he put three more quadrants of infinity
(three quadrants packed with everything
including all the other quadrants)
next to the other 375 billion quadrants
that had been circling around the Norma Cluster
long before consciousness sparked in the brain of homo habilus
and long after a last frail finger pressed the button of a machine
in a place they called "The Holy Land"
He could barely place the three quadrants down at the proper angles
because he was still in the aftershocks of laughter
turning over in his mind their perplexity
which had something to do with a father and a son
and what they called the afterlife
Next: 5. Almost Existential ❧ Poor, Bare, Forked