A Poem For Your Monday

evening drive home
In my ideal Christian bookstore, the Jesus knick-knacks and the Amish romances would be pushed to a far corner. The coveted window display space would be filled with books like the collected poems of Czeslaw Milosz.

I guess if I’m being perfectly honest, my ideal Christian bookstore would look exactly like my favorite independent bookstore in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, with a few more Bibles. As Madeleine L’Engle writes in Walking On Water, “Christian art? Art is art; painting is painting; music is music; a story is a story. If it’s bad art, it’s bad religion, no matter how pious the subject.”

Even if you think that L’Engle pushes the point too far, I imagine that many of you, having picked up a copy of Milosz’s New and Collected Poems (1931-2001), would agree that this is a writer Christians should be reading. A believer and a Nobel Prize winner, Milosz never turned his face away from the darkness of twentieth-century history. Yet he did this without losing his grip on hope and belief. A light shining in darkness. I think that may be my definition of Christian art.


                                                Rays of Dazzling Light

                                Light off metal shaken,

                                Lucid dew of heaven,

                                Bless each and every one

                                To whom the earth is given.


                                Its essence was always hidden

                                Behind a distant curtain.

                                We chased it all our lives

                                Bidden and unbidden.


                                Knowing the hunt would end,

                                That then what had been rent

                                Would be at last made whole:

                                Poor body and the soul.

                                                      –     Czeslaw Milosz

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