We return to Scott Cairns in my series of readings of the poems in my Anthology from Canterbury Press Waiting on the Word.The poem I have chosen for December 27th, is Nativity, a beautiful reflection on an icon of the Nativity and how it draws us in. You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. the image above was created by Linda Richardson. Linda writes:
As I read this poem I discerned a kind of radiance and inwardness that fascinated me. Again there are glimpses of the Divine that may be missed if we are not attentive or prayerful. We lean in and see a “tiny God.. slip briefly out of time.. miss the point or meet there”.
In the image, I created a fissure in the virgin blue, and beyond that there is a brightness that cannot be touched. It is a secret brightness, obscure and transcendent and cannot be possessed by us. All of life is potentially prayer that deepens us and makes our ‘ordinary’ time more loving and creative. But prayer is not an intellectual activity but an activity of love where we learn to be near God and learn too, never to leave the holiness of his nearness as we go about our daily duties.
You can find you can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button
As you lean in, you’ll surely apprehend
the tiny God is wrapped
in something more than swaddle. The God
is tightly bound within
His blesséd mother’s gaze—her face declares
that she is rapt by what
she holds, beholds, reclines beholden to.
She cups His perfect head
and kisses Him, that even here the radiant
compass of affection
is announced, that even here our several
histories converge and slip,
just briefly, out of time. Which is much of what
an icon works as well,
and this one offers up a broad array
of separate narratives
whose temporal relations quite miss the point,
or meet there. Regardless,
one blithe shepherd offers music to the flock,
and—just behind him—there
he is again, and sore afraid, attended
by a trembling companion
and addressed by Gabriel. Across the ridge,
three wise men spur three horses
towards a star, and bowing at the icon’s
nearest edge, these same three
yet adore the seated One whose mother serves
as throne. Meantime, stumped,
the kindly Abba Joseph ruminates,
from an attentive dog whose master may
yet prove to be a holy
messenger disguised as fool. Overhead,
the famous star is all
but out of sight by now; yet, even so,
it aims a single ray
directing our slow pilgrims to the core
where all the journeys meet,
appalling crux and hallowed cave and womb,
where crouched among these other
lowing cattle at their trough, our travelers
receive that creatured air, and pray.
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One response to “Nativity by Scott Cairns”
receive that creatured air, and pray. ~ Scott Cairns
Wow. What a different approach to that sense. Beautiful.