Visual Meditation: Cloisters (Part Two)

God’s Grief

Great parent
who must have started out
with such high hopes.

What magnitude of suffering,
the immensity of guilt,
the staggering despair.

A mind the size of the sun,
burning with longing,
a heart huge as a gray whale
breaching, streaming
seawater against the pale sky.

Man-god or beast god
god that breathes in every pleated leaf,
throat sac of frog, pin feather and shaft-
god of plutonium and penicillin, drunk
sleeping on the subway grate,
god of Joan of Arc, god of Crazy Horse
Lady Day, bringing us to our knees,
god of Houdini with hands
like a river, of Einstein, regret
running thick in his veins,
god of Stalin, god of Somoza,
god of the long march,
the Trail of Tears,
the trains,
god of Allende and god of Tookie,
the strawberry picker, fire in his back,
god of midnight, god of winter,
god of rouged children sold
with a week’s lodging
and airfare to Thailand,
god in trouble, god at the end of his rope-
sleepless, helpless-
desperate god, frantic god, whale heart
lost in the shallows, beached
on the sand, parched, blistered, crushed
by gravity’s massive weight.

-Ellen Bass

You can see Part One here

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

**Come back Monday for our next Poetry Party!**

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5 Responses

  1. Thank you dear friends! Sarah, I agree about the beauty of Mary as both Mother and Virgin, fullness and emptiness, in those moments of deep suffering. Bette, what an interesting wondering!

  2. Something that strikes me about the symbolism surrounding the crucifixion: it lifts up and draws attention to an enormity of suffering which, the longer one lives, the more one recognizes how terribly commonplace it is.

  3. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos and poem. In the top photo, the angel’s eyes look hollow. I was wondering if at one time the statue was interactive with those who came to pray or meditate. Perhaps a light would shine from the angel’s eyes?

  4. Stunning images Christine, and the poem – absolutely extraordinary. I shall be viewing and reading several times over the next few days.

  5. There is no moment more profound in the art imagery
    of Christianity than the quiet, relaxed and timeless face
    of Mary in the PIETA. No time where she is more honestly
    both Mother and Virgin, both fullness and emptiness.

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