Seven Stanzas At Easter

In preparation for a class which I am taking this summer, The Theology of Caring and Health, I have been reading a book by Kenneth Bakken; The Journey In To God; Healing and Christian Faith. At the end of the first chapter he quotes a marvelous poem by John Updike.  It seems right for this season and it stirred something deep in me.  Poetry tends to do that for me and this one made me stop and catch my breath for the deep truths it was teaching me.

Seven Stanzas At Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cell’s dissolution did not reverse,
the molecules reknit,
the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths
and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that – pierced – died; withered paused, and then regathered
out of enduring might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
making of the event a parable,
a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâche,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality
that in the slow grinding of
time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen,
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour,
we are embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

John Updike

The formatting of the original is slightly different but the blog publisher does not seem to like words that are out of line.  Each stanza has an indent that seems to add impact to the words.

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2 Comments

Filed under Poetry and Stuff, Quotes, Reading

2 responses to “Seven Stanzas At Easter

  1. I really like that.

  2. Yes, fantastic poem. It fits nicely with the direction I’m heading with Sunday’s sermon (and not simply because of the general resurrection stuff). I may have to quote it…