Sunday, October 17, 2010

The servant girl at Emmaus


She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his - the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd,
as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?

Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he'd laid on the dying and made them well?

Surely that face-?

The man they'd crucified for sedition and blasphemy,
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb,
The man it was rumored now some women had seen tghis morning alive?

Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don't recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching
                                                        the wine jug she's to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,

swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

The Servant-Girl at Emmaus (A Painting by Velazquez) by Denise Levertov.

This poem, a rediscovered gem as the books are slowly repatriated and unpacked, captures the central claim and unsettling difficulty of Christianity perfectly.

We are seen, straight through, and that is enough for in that seeing is our gifted creation and our fulfilment. It is so simple - there is nothing to do but surrender into it and the light comes and we are sure. A simplicity so simple that it continually eludes us. All that expenditure of energy that we make to 'present' ourselves to one another: the editing and positioning. All ultimately for nothing for we will be seen as we are. What a relief it would be if we could make a start dismantling our 'selves' into that freeing look?

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