In times of danger and disaster throughout history, true believers have made their mark by running toward the darkness. Whether it was a plague in second century Rome or a twenty-first century hurricane in America’s deep south, if we follow Mr. Rogers’s advice and “look for the helpers,” we might be surprised by how many of them are Christians who have chosen to be part of this particular dark setting in order to put the Light of the World on display.
As Christians, we have no light of our own, but the nature of our Borrowed Light is so compelling that others are drawn to its warmth and luminosity, just as we are drawn to the borrowed light of the moon against an inky sky. In her poetry collection (The Consequence of Moonlight: Poems), Sofia Starnes has expressed this exact quality of sainthood, the here-ness or there-ness of a life that “orbits the earth but [is] not of the earth.”
It is the discipline of recalling the source of our Light that keeps the underlying Presence in proper view. G.K. Chesterton borrows the same reality for his own timeless metaphor, for “just as the sun and the moon look the same size” at first glance, a right understanding of the universe soon reveals that “the sun is immeasurably our master, and the small moon only our satellite.” (229)
An accomplished poetess, Starnes employs delightful wordplay to embody the intangible to convey the loveliness of her observations:
“I wonder how such puny a word as pit,
could be both seed and slum, both dormant agency
and tomb; both conflict verb–met up against–
and scoop; a stone that yields, yields small,
yet hurts the hand. I wonder how,
but pittances deceive; thus is the way of potency
and plea; the oil is notched by hooves
and by the Fall, and then by falling fledglings,
How measured is the earth for gift and scar,
for creaks and croons, for the precarious child.” (69)
Borrowed Light for Living
One of my favorite elements of poetic writing is the surprising Scriptural connections that arise. Writing of Israel’s waste and desolate places, the prophet Isaiah imagines the complaint of future generations: “The place is too cramped for me, make room for me to live.” (Isaiah 49:20 ESV) The poem “Catacombs” (64) adds to the imagery with comparison to an 80-year-old woman’s real-life six-day confinement in earthquake rubble, prompting the reader to examine her own surroundings. From what cramped places may I also emerge unscathed and with a great story to share?
Let us continue to trust in the borrowed Light that dwells in power, living our way into richly share-able tales by holy risk and trusting in the the “Lord of spill and swell” (118). May we also, in our own day, run toward the darkness with a glorious excess–“not merely patched: pampered, festooned, unspent,” but instead (YES, Lord!) trusting in the future of “a risen body our flesh has never dreamt.” (118)
Many thanks to Paraclete Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase The Consequence of Moonlight: Poems simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Rejoicing in the Brilliance of Our Borrowed Light,
Image Credit: Calvin R. Morin (on the bridge to Rackliffe Island)
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