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Sunday, March 4, 2012


(Red Plum and Moonlight, woodblock print by Utagawa
Hiroshige, 1797-1858, Japanese artist)

From the earliest years of the Christian Church, both clerics and lay people have been reciting the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours. This tradition can be traced to the Jewish practice of saying or chanting certain prayers and psalms to a set schedule of hours of the day and the night. The office of Matins (from the Latin matutinus after the dawn goddess Matuta) was originally said at midnight (at 2 a.m. under the Benedictine Rule). It is now said most often, in anticipation, earlier in the evening.


A sickle of moon is caught
in the branches of cottonwoods
along the ice choked river.

A black night.

Stars in their constellations
so far away,
my prayers fly nakedly,
shadows among them.

It is cold.

With broken star gazers who pray,
I await a reply.
Simple worship does not seek
the approval of an echo.

Freezing, yielding to the shivers
of cooling blood, I stumble in
to wait by my fire
of forest wood.

I hear silver chimes
hanging in the blue spruce
outside my frozen window
played by mercy of sudden wind.

A sickle moon, a star,
a wrung out prayer,
matins sealed with silver chimes.

~ Charles Van Gorkom, Canadian poet, artist, and bootmaker, found here at Rainforest Soul


Tabatha said...

Very vivid! I feel as if I was there.

GretchenJoanna said...

This is very incarnational. It reminds me of how C.S. Lewis reportedly wanted to title his space trilogy using the phrase "deep heaven" rather than "space," a word that makes that sphere seem so cold and empty, whereas it's actually -- or so I've heard -- full of angels.

God incarnated in space? Yes, in all of Creation. The line that grabbed me first was "simple worship does not need the approval of an echo." Maybe because worship has ears to hear His Voice on the wind and all around.

And after reading the poem, I've decided to go and build what will doubtless be the last wood fire of the season.