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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Imagining Life Ahead

I've certainly posted often about having to re-imagine the direction and shape of my life.  I've preached on the subject.  I've conversed with Dr. David Forbes about it.  It's a major part of this season of my life, of grief work.

Recently the Brüderhof daily email (The Daily Dig) sent me a poem by Denise Levertov about the wonder and awe of looking upon the world.  Struck by its simplicity and power, I decided to find out more about this poet.  What I found intrigued me, including that she had written a series of poems about grief and loss after the death of her sister.  So I searched around the used book stores online and ordered a few of her books of poems.  Today is the first fruit of finding those books.  (Long ago I used to read poetry more often.  I always wonder why I don't now.)

What does one see when looking ahead at the next steps in life?  How different trees may look on a mountainside, depending on how we see.  How urgently we want see what is beyond a door, to remove impediments from letting us open upon the next vista.  How eager we may feel about trying on a new garment, projecting a changed image before ourselves and the world.  

And the eyes that see are guided as much by the imagination, an architect and a knitter, as they are by the orbital muscles and lenses that gaze forward.  Will there be a house behind the door, or not?  What will one find on the "mountain...echoing with hidden rivers, mountain of short grass and subtle shadows?"

Denise Levertov's poem has me thinking on these things.  I'm not surprised the critics say this poem launched her into wide recognition.

With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads
by Denise Levertov

With eyes at the back of our heads
we see a mountain
not obstructed with woods but laced
here and there with feathery groves.

The doors before us in a facade
that perhaps has no house in back of it
are too narrow, and one is set high
with no doorsill.  The architect sees

the imperfect proposition and
turns eagerly to the knitter.
Set it to rights!
The knitter begins to knit.

For we want
to enter the house, if there is a house,
to pass through the doors at least
into whatever lies beyond them,

we want to enter the arms
of the knitted garment.  As one
is re-formed, so the other,
in proportion.

When the doors widen
when the sleeves admit us
the way to the mountain will clear,
the mountain we see with
eyes at the back of our heads, mountain
green, mountain
cut of limestone, echoing
with hidden rivers, mountain
of short grass and subtle shadows.

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