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

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 1 Corinthians 3:12-19

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? …

If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. 

More thoughts for meditation

July 1968

Topmost leaves of young oak,
     young maple,
               are red—a delicate red
almost maroon.

I am not young,
    and not yet old. Young enough to be able
               to imagine my own old age. Something in me

puts out new leaves that are red also,
     delicate, fantastic, in June,
               early summer, late spring in the north.

A dark time we live in. one would think
     there would be no summer. No red leaves.
               One would think there would be

no drawings-up of the blind at morning
     to a field awake with flowers.
               Yet my tuft of new leaves

It is that field I wake to,
     A woman foolish with desire.

We live in dark times too. One would think that 2020 would not have a summer either. Where is the green tuft to which we might open up our blinds? 

In July 1968, the United States was waste deep in an endless war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King had been assassinated that April, Bobby Kennedy that June. King’s death precipitated the Holy Week Uprising. All across the country Black people spilled into the streets. The cyclical nature of such uprisings has not ceased to this day, because the situation has not yet changed enough. Maybe it would have been different if Bobby Kennedy would have been elected, but I don’t know. Denise Levertov was a radical peacemaker and participated heavily in efforts to address systemic racism and end the war. Summer 1968, was a good year to give up. But she did not. She stands at her window noticing what is new and green and reflecting on what more she has to offer. She stands in the foolishness of her desire and sees clearly through the haze.

We too can be foolish with desire because the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight. It is in moments like July 1968 and July 2020 that this is easier to see and there is some opportunity to bless God in that. Despair in the world! Go ahead and let it go. For ‘whether life or death or the present or the future—all is yours and you are in Christ and Christ is in God.

Suggestions for action

Look for the tuft of new leaves and fluff it in the breeze. Name a few of your foolish desires and write them in your journal. They do not all have to be so sanctioned as “world peace”, “all twelve fruits of the Spirit” and “union with God” (though, I expect you do want those things); this is an exercise in foolishness, in laughter though you have considered all the facts, in hope for things unseen, as Levertov has led us all week.