Everything Holds Together

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My teammate Chris encouraged me to sign up to Fr Richard Rohr’s daily meditation emails a while back. I don’t always manage it every day, but I’m usually glad when I take the time.

A few weeks ago, the Sunday round-up included a song and the invitation to experience the week’s information ‘at the heart level’. I was preparing to preach my most recent sermon, on ‘Peace Sunday’, and was struggling to articulate the outrageous mystery of the incarnation. Listening to this beautiful reflection on the ‘Christ Hymn’ from Colossians 1, I was brought to tears.

So, I wanted to share that here, and as well provide some information on the spoken word artists who contribute to the hymn, and give a transcript, as I have not found a place online with the words together. First, the original video, with artwork from Julie Ann Stevens

To buy the album, click here

Everything holds together, everything,
From stars that pierce the dark like living sparks,
To secret seeds that open every spring,
From spanning galaxies to spinning quarks,
Everything holds together and coheres,
Unfolding from the center whence it came.
And now that hidden heart of things appears,
The first-born of creation takes a name.

And shall I see the one through whom I am?
Shall I behold the one for whom I’m made,
The light in light, the flame within the flame,
Eikon tou theou, image of my God?
He comes, a little child, to bless my sight,
That I might come to him for life and light.

in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together

And when we had invented death
had severed every soul from life
we made of these, our bodies, sepulchers
and as we wandered dying, dim among the dying multitudes
He acquiesced to be interred in us
and when He had descended thus
into our persons and the grave
He broke the limits, opening the grip
He shaped of every sepulcher
a womb

in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together

And this is He
Who takes all He is
and bestows it freely
gives meekly
takes infinite power and bows the knee.
Have you ever seen God on the ground?
Palms pressed to the floor
Sweat dripping on the dirt
The cut and stretch of being human
A sacred shelter of presence
The fullness of He
creator of kingdoms and galaxies
of principalities
and every moment crafted
through time the Divine
placed wholly in human flesh
the infinite squashed down into finite
like fitting ten thousand angels on the top of a pin
like the entire ocean is poured into a pool
like the wine is running over
like it’s bursting at the seams
The Christ
He was bursting at the seams

in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together

Anticipating long stretches of nothingness
we plunge south into California on I-5,
prepared to be bored, uninterested in the view,
and a bit worried that we too may

commit monotony. But then, over us, clouds
contribute their lenticular magnitude to
the two-dimensional—carved by winds into
stream-lined birds or space craft or B-52s.

I take sky photos through the windshield,
admitting that in spite of anonymity, there is never
nothing. Required to obey gravity,
we occupy open space with substance,

all of us on the skin of the planet created
to lift against the earth’s pull yet sustained entirely.
We live out our singularity along with olive and
almond trees, oleanders, tarmac, trucks, until

size becomes irrelevant: smoke blue coastal range,
stem of dry grass, brittle eucalyptus leaf,
pebble ground into the ground—each bears love’s print,
is held particular within the universe.

Even the small, soft moth on the window of
the rest area’s dingy washroom, unaware of our scrutiny,
its russet wings traced with intricacies of gray,
owns an intrinsic excellence.

in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together
in whom all things hold together

—–

I was pleased to find a blog post by Malcom Guite giving some details on his contribution, the opening sonnet ‘Everything Holds Together’, which also explains the Greek phrase Eikon tou theou that I had been struggling to hear. I was not familiar with this poet before so I followed him on Facebook immediately. In a sentence, his poem points to the nature of the Christ beyond human comprehension.

A little online searching for Scott Cairns turns up some really fascinating results, but no text from this poem, so I’ve made my own transcription – apologies for any errors. His poem plunges the Christ into the human experience of death and hints at the transformation and overthrow of death.

I met Australian poet Joel McKerrow at the Wild Goose Festival several years ago. I’ve seen his work from time to time since then, and have always found it valuable, disruptive and inspiriting. I recognised him immediately when I heard his contribution, which evokes the sublime absurdity of the incarnation with an unspoken yet pervasive gratitude. What is written above is my transcription – again, apologies for any errors.

The final piece by Luci Shaw disturbs the high Christological chorus with its early reference to California and the I-5 highway. It brings us to the solidity of the created world and invites us to experience reality as holy. I found the text online under the title  ‘the Haecceity of Travel‘ (with helpful subtitle ‘with apologies to Dun Scotus’ which helped me find out what on earth ‘haecceity’ was). The text above is copied from that site.

NOTE – After having done my best to type up the lyrics, I found that an official lyric video had been uploaded a few days ago! I checked the bits I was not sure about, and I think that my transcript is accurate.

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