Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Saturday Morning Atlantic

Friday had been a day for Teresa of Avila and Wislawa Szymborska.

Sixteenth-century Teresa was familiar. Her autobiography had been sitting on a shelf in my office for three years. What urged me to pick it up and read on Friday, I do not know -- but it was a real "Tolle et lege" moment.

The passage I found was about the uselessness of trying to quiet thinking. A cloistered contemplative and mystic, Teresa knew that thinking must have its day. Thinking must go its paths. Thinking must move on and on, unmuzzled, unmuffled, ready to try out a new way of understanding life and the things of life.

Teresa was aware of the suspicious urge simply to appear quiet, to feel quiet, to mimic a mystic quiet. She knew that only some readers would understand what she was writing when she spoke about God's way of finally making space in us to hear what we would never know how to hear on our own.

And then the Polish poet.


A recent review in The New York Review of Books alerted me to Wislawa Szymborska. I am late in knowing her and reading her, even here in the United States. Reading her poems at home Friday evening was the experience of hearing a voice I did not know to expect, a voice I did not know I wanted to follow until its ways kept making sense.

It is the sort of surprise that you need when you discover what has happened to lives you thought you knew. It is the sort of surprise that you need when you discover what has happened to the life you thought you could always have.

Saturday morning, fresh from my Friday with Teresa of Avila and Wislawa Szymborska, I drove to the Atlantic. Unplanned trip, I returned to pathways that I have walked at times in my life when I faced the kind of change another person cannot measure.

It was actually good to be back.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This polish poet is still alive.She was born in 1923.
If you want to know about my country,you can click on this blog written in french and english(I think you are able to read french language !)

avignon-in-photos.blogspot.com

Jo d'Avignon

Donald said...

Your Avignon is an interesting city, beautiful and historical. Thanks for the link.