Once again my thanks goes out to C.S. Lewis scholar and teacher, Andrew Lazo, for his musings on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. For more insights from Andrew, visit his website here: http://www.andrewlazo.com.
|Image of Andrew
by Lancia E. Smith
Some Time Still
Emily Dickinson says:
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.
Then close the valves of her attention
Let’s spend a few moments thinking about just those first seventeen words (and by the way, “obtrude” means to thrust forwards, to force oneself upon others unasked): The soul selects her own society, / Then shuts the door; / On her divine majority / Obtrude no more.
In The Way of the Heart, his wonderful little book about the Desert Fathers, Fr. Henri Nouwen reminds us that “silence is the mystery of the future world. It keeps us pilgrims and prevents us from becoming entangled in the cares of this age. It guards the fire of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. It allows us to speak a word that participates in the creative and recreative power of God’s own Word.”
He’s right, at least in my own poor experience. Abba Arsenius redemptively, wryly challenges us: “I have often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent.” Ironically enough, instead of practicing this great wisdom of the sealed lips and the sanctified inner fire, I have blabbed these quotes to dozens of acquaintances over the years. But this day is not yet done, and there remains unto us some time still to unplug, to acknowledge, to invite God Himself to speak into a silence we may yet today even help to create. C. S. Lewis steers us well here, away from “the coinage of [our] own unquiet thoughts.” Lewis implores the Spirit, who groans too deeply for words: “From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee, / O thou fair silence fall, and set me free.”
It’s Easter. Certainly sing out, and greet people with the greatest of news, that Christ is risen indeed. But maybe this week we might find in a moment the grace to push back, to unplug, to “shut the door.” We mindfully might yet seize onto some unassigned minute and listen as deeply as this jarring world will allow, to the silence. To the wind. To Emily’s “divine majority,” here in this room, alone with the one Word that this whole world hangs on.