Happy September. A poem for you – and perhaps an especially poignant one, especially in light of ongoing events in Syria:
September, 1918by Amy Lowell.This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.Under a tree in the park,Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,Were carefully gathering red berriesTo put in a pasteboard box.Some day there will be no war,Then I shall take out this afternoonAnd turn it in my fingers,And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.To-day I can only gather itAnd put it into my lunch-box,For I have time for nothingBut the endeavour to balance myselfUpon a broken world(Source: The Poetry Foundation)
With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.[…]I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace. May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace..To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.(Pope Francis, Angelus of Sept 1, 2013)
Yes, words are wonderful things, a kind of shorthand. But words can also get in the way, especially when we think that because we have named something, we have fully described or comprehended it. Not so, reality is always richer than the words or thoughts that we “reduce” it to. It is perhaps necessary for us to do this sort of reduction in order to manage, and not be overwhelmed, but, again reality is always richer than the thoughts or words we reduce it to. (Msgr. Charles Pope)
There’s yet another old saying, likely from the far East, which says, “Those who know do not say, those who say do not know.” That is, words for fall short of the reality of what is known, and the wise person grasps this.
One of the Eastern fathers, when asked to explain this saying to his disciples said, “How many know the smell of a rose?” And all of his disciples raised their hands. But when he said to them, “Put it into words” everyone remained silent. (Ibid.)