Apocalypse How Now Brown Cow

PW and I have been talking a lot about dark matter, dark energy, the Higgs boson, stuff like that. We like to pretend we’re theoretical physicists, being the thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies that we are.

And behold! We’re at the Winter Solstice, the day of the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. Bazillions of folks who don’t care (or even know) what the Mayan calendar says about any other day of the year are suddenly going on about the end of the world. I bet the folks in the Southern Hemisphere can’t wait for our world to end so we’ll quit our bellyaching about all this darkness.

I have to say, I’m a fan of the darkness. Don’t get me wrong; I’m right there, complaining about how few hours of daylight there are; I can’t wait for more daylight hours. And. This morning–as I was walking to the bus in the close and cloudy damp, through the wind that was blowing everywhichaway, playing chicken with the occasional burst of raindrops–I thought, “Come on, darkness. I’ll dance with you.” Maybe that’s what happens when you get into one of those theoretical physicist grooves.

Once I was safely planted in my plastic bus seat for my commute into the big city, I decided I should share a few Solsice-y things with my Crooked Liners.

First, did you know that the “cataclysmic event” definition of the word “apocalypse” is a modern invention? I didn’t. The word originates from the Greek apokalyptein, which means “uncover, disclose, reveal.” Its general sense in Middle English was “insight, vision, hallucination.” I copied that from etymonline.com, so you know it’s true. Couldn’t we all use a little more insight and vision, maybe a GOOD hallucination or two? And isn’t it possible that some of the best insights and visions come to us under cover of darkness? I just re-read those two questions in a voice that parodies how Mike Wallace asked questions on 60 Minutes, and I encourage you to do the same.

The second thing I want to share with you is this excerpt from a poem by Yehuda Amichai. I’m willing to forgive his notion of God as male, because the ideas here are so refreshing:

from the poem “Gods Change, Prayers are Here to Stay”
by Yehuda Amichai
from the book Open Closed Open: Poems

I don’t want an invisible god. I want a god who is seen
but doesn’t see, so I can lead him around
and tell him what he doesn’t see. And I want
a god who sees and is seen. I want to see
how he covers his eyes, like a child playing blindman’s bluff.

I want a god who is like a window I can open
so I’ll see the sky even when I’m inside.
I want a god who is like a door that opens out, not in,
but God is like a revolving door, which turns, turns on its hinges
in and out, whirling and turning
without a beginning, without an end.

I declare with perfect faith
that prayer preceded God.
Prayer created God,
God created human beings,
human beings create prayers
that create the God that creates human beings.

That poem just changed revolving doors for me

Third, I stumbled across this Rose Cousins song yesterday. The chorus of “The Darkness” is from Wendell Berry’s beautiful little meditation on darkness.

To Know The Dark
by Wendell Berry

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

I think Wendell Berry would be pleased with what Rose Cousins has made of his poem. Happy Solstice to all, and to all a dark, apocalyptic night–in the original sense of the word.

9 responses to “Apocalypse How Now Brown Cow

  1. You are keeping me in the Christmas season. AND, Wendell Berry’s poem is my fav of all poems about light (and dark). I’m so glad you have to commute on the bus. How blessed my life is with your blog.

  2. Awesome poem. All of this repeated listening to lessons & carols lessons has thoughts on light and dark very much on my mind.

  3. 1
    as darkness edges
    deeper into daylight
    the sun pauses
    and we each raise
    a solitary flame
    in praise of the solar
    as darkness edges
    deeper into daylight
    a couple
    with dreaming)
    in no particular place
    (at the center
    of the universe)
    offer the divine
    and we each raise
    a solitary flame
    in praise of the sacred
    what approaches now
    emerges from the darkness
    first wearing the face
    of what we imagine
    was left behind
    an ancient father’s face
    by the face
    of a still more ancient mother
    but as we edge closer
    what approaches
    from the darkness
    wears the revenant face
    of some one unknown
    and we stand face to face
    with the encompassing mystery
    inside each of us
    let us each
    on this long night
    also raise
    a solitary flame
    in praise of what we
    do not remember
    and yet recognize
    in praise of what we
    could not anticipate
    but for which we ache
    ©2010 Bruce Jones

    • Bruce, this is beautiful. I feel so honored that you shared it here. I hope you are surrounded by love, both from people who are here and from those you have lost, this season. I know that you are a blessing to my parents, and so you are also a blessing to me.

  4. You must be at least amused that dark matter and dark energy make up a majority of the contents of the Universe, then.

  5. Once again, Joy, dear, we’re thinking about the same kooky things. I’m always so grateful to find we live in the same space/time continuum, despite the fact that I live in the Holy Texas Empire–always an apocalyptic, hallucinogenic adventure! I hope your walk on the dark side always ends with a cup of hot cocoa….

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