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Poem on Doubt

Researching information to include on DOUBT, I came across some inspiring poetry by Christian Wiman.  Here is an edited version of written prose that I was encouraged by and think you will too.


"Love Bade Me Welcome (Gazing Into the Abyss)" by Christian Wiman

Though I was raised in a very religious household, I hadn't been to church in any serious way in more than 20 years. It would be inaccurate to say that I have been indifferent to God in all that time.

If I look back on the things I have written in the past two decades, it's clear to me not only how thoroughly the forms and language of Christianity have shaped my imagination, but also how deep and persistent my existential anxiety has been. I have not been at ease in this world.
I have at times experienced in the writing of a poem some access to a power that feels greater than I am, and it seems reductive, even somehow a deep betrayal, to attribute that power merely to the unconscious or to the dynamism of language itself. But also, if I look back on the poems I've written in the past two decades, it almost seems as if the one constant is God. Or, rather, His absence.

There is definitely some wisdom in learning to see our moments of necessity and glory and tragedy not as disparate experiences but as facets of the single experience that is a life. The pity, at least for some of us, is that we cannot truly have this knowledge of life, can only feel it as some sort of abstract "wisdom," until we come very close to death.

The closer I came to reality, the more I longed for divinity — or, more accurately perhaps, the more divinity seemed so obviously apart of reality.

One morning we found ourselves going to church. Found ourselves. That's exactly what it felt like, in both senses of the phrase, as if some impulse in each of us had finally been catalyzed into action, so that we were casting aside the Sunday paper and moving toward the door with barely a word between us; and as if, once inside the church, we were discovering exactly where and who we were meant to be.

So now I bow my head and try to pray in the mornings, not because I don't doubt the reality of what I have experienced, but because I do, and with an intensity that, because to once feel the presence of God is to feel His absence all the more acutely, is actually more anguishing and difficult than any "existential anxiety" I have ever known. I go to church on Sundays, not to dispel this doubt but to expend its energy, because faith is not a state of mind but an action in the world, a movement toward the world. I cherish it, trying to learn how to inhabit time so completely that there might be no distinction between life and belief, attention and devotion.

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In my words... When in DOUBT, [by faith] act on belief.

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