This week we are with the poetry of Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Mark 9:14-29

Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” 

More thoughts for meditation


I believe the earth
exists, and 
in each minim mote
of its dust the holy
glow of thy candle.
unknown I know,
thou spirit,
lover of making, of the
wrought letter,
wrought flower,
iron, deed, dream.
Dust of the earth,
help thou my
unbelief. Drift,
gray become gold, in the beam of
vision. I believe and
interrupt my belief with
doubt. I doubt and
interrupt my doubt with belief. Be,
beloved, threatened world.
                    Each minum
                    Not the poisonous
luminescence forced 
out of its privacy,
the sacred lock of its cell
broken. No,
the ordinary glow
of common dust in ancient sunlight.
Be, that I may believe. Amen.

A poem is a bit like the beam of light that turns the gray mote into gold. The poet’s joy is shining light on the common dust of our existence and capturing the perfect moment of shafted light and dancing swirls of motes. I seemed to see those more when I was a child. Was it that I lived in a different state with different light and different dust, or does the quiet mind of a child have more to do with my fantastic vision? 

The man in Mark’s story understands how to be gray and gold at the same time. Recognizing the potential of his ordinary life in the presence of Jesus, and not really knowing how to believe more than asking. There probably isn’t more to it. Here in the poem, Levertov names what she knows, names what she knows about God and asks to believe. This seems like a worthy pattern for prayer, especially if doubt is a big part of your thought-scape. 

Suggestions for action

Name your doubts in your journal and ask God to help you believe. Get to the bottom of it quickly – where are you struggling to believe? Where are you bothered by your unbelief? There are not right answers, only true ones. If you can do this you might also write a credo as Levertov has. Name what you know about the world and about God. Then venture into those things that need that perfect moment of mote suspended in sunlight shaft in order for them to become gold in your eyes. Jesus is the light. Anything is possible if a person believes. And many things can only happen by prayer. 

Today is Benedict of Nursia Day. Honor the man who made monasticism from the Egyptian desert a practice fit for his tumultuous era in Europe at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.