First and Second Sundays of Epiphany

I am curating poetry at Wits’ End through Epiphany as well, and I plan on sharing those poems here as I did through Advent, though with less commentary. School has started up again, and Sundays come to me hard. I am so tired. 

But, finding, practicing, and reciting these poems is still the highlight of my week, whether it gets much attention on my blog or not.

So. The themes I’m playing with this season are surprise and the senses. During the season of Epiphany, we celebrate God among us. But Christ isn’t always what we expect him to be. Jesus wasn’t a political ruler; he didn’t fix every person and every thing when he came. Still now, as a theologian-in-training, I’m learning and unlearning things about Christ. As for the senses, at Wits’ End we’re celebrating the season by engaging all the senses. With Eucharist, Phil lights incense and we’re given butter and honey to spread on our Communion bread. (Yum!)

The poems I’ve found for this season have engaged one or both of these themes.

For the First Sunday of Epiphany, I chose e.e. cummings’s poem, “i thank You God for most this amazing” for the line: “this is the sun’s birthday” since we celebrated that Sunday the Light coming into darkness. It also names humans as “tasting touching hearing seeing / breathing” beings, able to see, say, the Light. Or taste the goodness of God. Etc.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Today’s poem is from Mary Brown, my wonderful writing teacher/mentor. It’s called “Conversion Experience.” I chose this poem because it both plays with surprise (who doesn’t chuckle at the end?) and the senses of tasting, touching, and smelling.

Suddenly we find ourselves in love
…………..with fresh cilantro, both of us,

and now we put it into everything—
…………..salsa, of course, but also into salads

and sides, and we find ourselves
…………..eating it all by itself and putting

the fingers that have handled it,
…………..steadied it while we chopped it, up

to our noses, breathing deep.
…………..The crispness of its leaf’s become

an unexplained addiction, a mystery
…………..so citrusy, of scent or secret spice—

and we are high on how it dawns
…………..in us anew each time we think

to add it to the soup, and we’re
…………..embarrassed by the way we feel

because we both remember clearly
…………..another time, though not exactly when,

in which we’d had a very pointed conversation
…………..and agreed we didn’t like it in the least.

About Lauren Sawyer

I am an assistant instructor at a graduate school in Seattle, Washington, and I hold a master of the arts in theology and culture. I love coffee, rainy days, and John Updike. Learn more about me at laurendeidra.com.