Profound moments usually aren’t visible or glamorous — rather, often they occur in the dark and quiet, in the peripheral and liminal moments of the everyday. Here, poet and SteinerBooks translator and editor, Clifford Venho muses on an important ‘dawning.’

Art rests upon a kind of religious sense: it is deeply and ineradicably in earnest. Thus it is that art so willingly goes hand in hand with religion.

Goethe, ‘Maxims’

Dawn. Light spreads thinly across the sky, the mountains still in shadow, the contours of the valley giving way to the cavernous dark of the city. This moment I wake to myself – a sun that hasn’t yet risen. I sit down to write and find myself in a liminal place — am I writing the essential? Writing comes slow, the first steps up a steep path. Can the words I utter BE?

Dawn. A rising in the chest. An unfurling of wings. What wants to be spoken into the twilight, into the place between? What light grows in me that is, at the same time, the shadow on the far horizon? How can I be here and there, all at once? Within the light, a shade? “Better to be a beggar on earth than a king in the realm of the shades.” But that is an old saying, and I am a new kind of beggar – a beggar for the spirit.

“Blessed are the beggars for the spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The words, ‘beggars for the spirit’ reverberate. Their essentiality speaks in the heart’s hidden chamber. To be a beggar means to lack. Lack what? Something you need. Being a beggar for the spirit, you are conscious of your need for spirit. You know you must ask for it. You are witness to your own poverty, to your own lack, and you humbly seek the spirit, to ask for what your heart needs for it to be whole again.

The Beatitudes are a profound mystery. Not in the sense of something unknown or unknowable, but in the sense of a riddle, a question. Perhaps doubt arises here. There is the kind of doubt that closes you off, as with Thomas, who would not believe Christ had risen until he had touched the wounds himself. This is the doubt of the materialist who only trusts what can be perceived through the senses and understood by the narrow scope of the intellect. But another kind of doubt exists, one that impels toward truth, a hunger for the great questions, a stage in Parzival’s journey from dullness, through doubt, to blessedness.

Dawn. And the valley is swallowed in the abyss of Forsaken City. Can I stand above it? This world is a tension that is breaking open, and what comes with the break, what shapes rise from the abyss — world nightmares. That is what cries out for courage, for the light that illumines — not chosen objects but all of them, the sacrificial light of knowledge. We often look back with derision upon the humanity of the past, their naiveté, their blind faith, their religiosity, their lack of a scientific approach – as if those cultures find their final culmination in the scientific-technological world of today, in AI and the internet of things. What arrogance to believe we will not advance further, will not look as different to future generations as ancient Egypt looks to us today. What lack of willingness to enter into the thinking of other times. The blind prophet Tiresias could see the future, but our blindness shows us only illusions of the present. In Forsaken City, words fall away from meaning. As in some maddening game, ‘Science says!’ is shouted from every street corner. But is not science a path of inquiry (says the little voice inside), an inner activity of discernment, a truth-seeking? We, the citizens of Forsaken City, in our wild hubris, our masked fear, do not know the extent of our loss — our thoughts dull, our hearts full of spite, our actions so many clattering skeletons.

Dawn. What other paths open before the seeking soul, faced with the grotesque shapes looming from the abyss between this illusion of present and the shore of future reality? The word. The word is a path of inquiry — more, of knowledge: no mind-numbing entertainment, no self-expression or intellectual game. No, the word is an inroad into the mystery of things, an instrument of discovery, a prayer. We, the citizens of Forsaken City, sense faintly, as in a dream, the Question, but do not ask.

Dawn. Brightening to early morning. Birdsong. The drip of last night’s rain tapping the stone of now. Will the light break, too, through the gathering shadow, like the vast presence of a new Sun, a new City, dawning?

Photo Todd Aarnes

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Letzte Kommentare