Drunk With the Love of God – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Commonweal (the Catholic journal) recently reprinted a 1953 piece written by Thomas Merton, in which he wrote of the Psalms as poems.
“The function of the Psalms is to make us share in the poetic experience of the men who wrote them. … The Psalms are at the same time the simplest and the greatest of all religious poems. They are the songs of men—and David was the greatest of them—for whom God was more than an abstract idea, more than a frozen watchmaker sitting in his tower while his universe goes ticking away into space without him.”
Merton says that the writers of the Psalms were carried away in an ecstasy of joy when they saw God in the cosmic symbolism of the created universe. He says, “David is drunk with the love of God.”
That drunkenness applies to many others besides David, and to many forms of poetic writing besides the Psalms. There is some beautiful poetry in scripture.
There is also a lot of poetry that has been inspired by scripture. The simple reason is because scripture is about life and the various writers were inspired by their experience of God’s role in the world around them. Start with Genesis and go through to the Book of Revelation.
The manner of writing in Sacred Scripture has beauty and power as it speaks of life. Many of the inspired authors were carried away in the ecstasy of which Merton writes.
God blesses us with a variety of ways of describing our spiritual and religious experiences. Some people offer poetic writing. Some paint beautiful images. Others offer their gift of voice or music. Others are gifted with letters. Some sports writing is powerful and beautiful. I’ve even seen business writing that does much more than describe the facts and figures.
I think that Merton has a point. If a writer is “drunk with the love of God,” he or she can find beauty in the dictionary. The person recognizes that the subject matter is much more than an abstract idea. It’s not just a word. It’s laden with potent meaning.
This coning week, igNation is having a poetry week. This post helps introduce us to the week. The poetry throughout this week will have a theme of All Saints/All Souls.
We are fortunate to have men and women who have a gift with poetic language. They challenge us with their words and images. Many of us prefer language that is more obvious in saying what it means. The poets are not always so obvious.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel about the all-encompassing love of God and neighbour that we are called to: to love God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength;” and to love our neighbour to the same degree that we love ourselves.
That love is a way of describing Merton’s drunkenness. Rainer Maria Rilke reminds us that “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.”
Allow the daily events of this week to show their richness. Allow igNation’s poets to help foster those riches.