Written in Istanbul,  17 December 2012

At every moment of the day,

At the bottom of my mind there opens up a nothingness,

That registers as this living dread and angst,

That rises to the top at little failures, or moments of regret,

And settles to the bottom at busy moments —

Like jogging, driving, cooking dinner, or making love.

Are we all born to this despair,

When a deep nothingness saps our surface freedom,

And our life-energy is eviscerated by doubt and incipient disintegration?

Are we born to struggle with the nothingness,

That lurks behind every moment of the day, like a poisonous serpent,

That forces from us courage just to act?

Do everyday people encounter this debilitating dread,

Cutting to the bone like a butcher’s knife,

The natural energy of outward looking life?

Do shopkeepers tremble in their shops, frozen from action,

As I am trembling now at a small act of forgetfulness and loss,

Raising the specter of finitude and vulnerability and ultimate nothingness?

I summon courage daily just to carry on.

This is no small virtue, deeper than Aristotle’s courage,

But appears a failure nonetheless,

For perhaps I should have overcome this angst years past,

In the boundless affirmation of God’s gift of life,

But no, I only struggle on– in courage and despair.

At better moments there is Kierkegaard’s leap of faith,

The groundlessness of finite life thrown to the grace of God,

Thrown upon the Infinite without reservation or regret.

But the leap, with no net below the abyss,

Is not a one time affair, but ever-renewed,

An act beyond even courage, perhaps from an even deeper despair?

How do I carry on?

How do I use these dangling hands in the service of humanity and God?

A cosmic hope descends from the divine, a last resort,

Filling the nothingness with the bright flame of divine love,

And directs my feet beyond jogging or cooking or making love,

To the service of divine transformation– Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.

*     *     *     *     *     *

[Back to Poetry table of contents]