a capricious little beast

[Here’s a poem by an alumna that speaks to a theme that has seemed very important lately]:

Wait

it’s morning now
I sit down
settle in
light a candle,
and wait

a friend comes to greet me
and I pour out my questions
like hot water over tea leaves
and together,
we wait

other writers guide us
from this poem to that one
a quote here, some words there
all these paradoxes rise and fall
like our ribs as we breathe,
and we wait

only if you are patient
with your questions
only when you cease
the frantic quest
for some certainty
that will cement your faith

only as you wait
still as the oak for her lark
to come home again
to nest in her branches

wait here, just wait
wait with the questions,
sit down and wait

and maybe, maybe you will find
it’s not the answers that you seek
but the questions themselves
the only way you know how to live

and maybe, maybe you will see
that even without the answers
you can go on

accepting as a gift
each moment of grace
accepting as a gift
each mystery and absurdity
accepting as a gift
all the joy and all the frustration

of understanding you will never stop asking
and understanding you will never know
and understanding it’s okay to let go

you do not need what once you sought
that capricious little beast, certainty

  • Ash

a good question

[This is the other poem that Rachael shared with us at last week’s talk on uncertainty and questions:]

A Good Question

Never underestimate the power of a question.
Don’t dismiss it as mere herald to the all-powerful answer,
Or despise its uncertainty as feeble or unsafe.

A good question is full of life.
It bursts with the curiosity and promise of undiscovered worlds.
Its key turns the lock of never-opened doors.

So don’t let your own question spill heedlessly from your mouth.
Instead, turn it,
Like a hard toffee between tongue and teeth.
Savour, smooth and hone it.

Hold and admire it, a wild bird balanced on your faltering hand,
And when you release it to another’s charge,
Be ready for it to return to you unfamiliar,
Changed beyond recognition,
And pulling in directions you did not predict or desire.

Learn to listen,
Just listen,
And to let answers be extended questions.

Likewise, when another’s question comes to you,
Don’t push it away if an answer does not spring instantly, comfortingly, to mind;
For this question’s gift was fashioned in the ferment of someone else’s strange soul.

A question should be given space
To roam through forgotten rooms.
Perhaps at first it will seem to bounce like a discarded rubber ball,
Its lonely thud echoing against the emptiness of abandoned space,
Bareness of untrodden floorboards.

But refrain from picking it up to thrust again into a cosy pocket,
And its ricochet will knock open closets,
spill chests,
split windows,
Drawing invisible arcs to connect random points,
Until the tangle of lines
Suddenly
Reveals a picture.

This picture you may pick up
And wonderingly exhibit,
Or carefully fold to store in your heart’s chest.

But the question?
Let the question bound on…

  • Rachael Barham – Saturday 29th December 2012