[Maybe you missed last weekend’s “Rain and Snow” festival featuring Pádraig Ó Tuama and many others? Or maybe you were there and now you him, or miss poetry? ]
“What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade”
Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,
how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.
After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s
voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—
something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home….
- Brad Aaron Modlin, [This is the start of a poem that Padraig shares and discusses in the first episode of the new podcast he started with On Being just before coming to St. Stephen. Hope it whets your appetite for more. Check this out for the full poem and Padraig’s reflection.]
The two nihilisms, the passive one of religious world-deniers and world-destroyers and the active one of a-religious inventors of arbitrary values, are opposed to each other. The struggle between them isn’t played out just in the hearts of individuals but on the world stage – among religious fundamentalists clutching transcendent meaning with desperate hands and between those fundamentalists and a-religious libertines, flanked by “last men” fighting for the pleasures and comforts of their way of life….
The recursive struggle between these two nihilisms is one of the great antagonisms of our time.
In choosing between meaning and pleasure we always make the wrong choice. Pleasure without meaning is vapid; meaning without pleasure is crushing. In its own way, each is nihilistic without the other. But we don’t need to choose between the two. The unity of meaning and pleasure, which we experience as joy, is given with the God who is Love.
- Miroslav Volf, Fourishing (2015)