Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Yes and the No

This morning I saw the sunbeams fan out from behind the mountains and kiss the clouds so that they blushed. And when I found this poem, it felt like maybe Cummings had seen it with me.

e.e. cummings poem

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

It is unusual for me to like a cummings poem this well because as a teacher of lots of kids who speak English as a second language, I struggle to read anything with such poor capitalization skills without marking it all up with red pen.

But this poem captures a lot. I like the end of the first stanza where it says, "which is yes"... everything which is yes... Isn't everything "yes" in Christ? And then paired with the middle of the third stanza, "the no of all nothing". Isn't that where the "no's" come from? Nothing. C.S. Lewis writes in the "Screwtape Letters" that nothing is very powerful and that many people are led astray by merely doing nothing.
"The Christians describe the Enemy as one "without whom Nothing is strong". And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off." ~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter #12
The battle against nothing is only hopeless to those who are without Screwtape's Enemy, God. But with God, we can have open ears and open eyes to see the great somethings that God has given us as gifts. How beautiful it is to see all the "yes's", to see all the birth, to see "the gay great happening illimitably earth".

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