We Are The Poetry of God
"we are god's workmanship, created in christ jesus to do good works, which he has prepared in advance for us to do."
When I was a teenager I used to wonder why much of our "spiritual" music lacked the mystery that permeated the words of the biblical writers. Everything I heard coming from my Christian forebears sounded far more like a sermon than a song, and even then, one that lacked the poetic beauty of the Psalms I'd come to find continual refuge in. I knew something was missing from our conversations around the uniqueness of God and it wasn't more songs of morality or trite obedience.
I recently heard Eugene Petterson say that our intent should be to move from a spirituality of prose to one of poetry. Poetry doesn't seek to relay facts or to give its hearer more information about the world it lives in, its intention is to draw its audience's consciousness deeper into the life they're already living and to make them aware of its kolidoscopic beauty.
Poetry isn't so much a slave to resolution as it is to beauty.
When the writer of Ephesians says we are God's workmanship, the Greek word he uses is Poiema. Its used only twice in the New Testament and both times means more literally "God's workmanship" or "work of art" and coincidently, it's the same word we derive our modern word poem from. In other words we are living simile's and metaphor's displaying the wonder of and describing in mystical language the nature of the Person who sung us into being. This isn't a vague or unusual concept to us because we employ art and song religiously in our liturgy as christians. We know that a song can portray beauty through joy, love, suffering or confusion alike and whether or not we can resolve that present tension doesn't negate hopes power amidst it. In fact, in many cases its actually strengthened by it.
In many ancient cultures poetry and prophecy went hand in hand. Poetry was believed to be the language of the transcendent and to speak with rare poetic eloquence went hand and hand with revealing heavens mysterious nature. That's because prophecy isn't primarily predictive, though of course that's a significant aspect of it. Prophecy is actually the revealing of divine truth that can't come through attainable human knowledge and deductions. Prophecy is in its purest form is actually the testimony of the Christ. A Christ by the way who chose to be primarily understood through a metaphor lived out in history and remembered in annual festivals for hundreds of years prior to his coming! Like poetry, prophecy helps the human imagination to grasp a Being beyond the physical limitations of it's own neurology. Prophecy and poetry transport us to heaven where we're met with the welcoming arms of our cosmic Father.
Prophecy is simply revelation and it's a lifestyle of revelation that is meant to be for every person made new in the Eternal One.
Poetry is more of a witness than an evangelist. Poetry is unafraid of unfinished stories, geological devastation or political threat, because it has learnt to embrace hope as a peaceful protest against their antagonisms and taunts. Poetry chooses firstly to display beauty, clothed in mystery to the world around it then secondly the dissemination of information. Because mystery invites us into a relationship with our Father that information can only describe. So maybe a healthy tension between poetry and prose is what we need to embrace the relational aspects of God that offend our minds. If the Psalms or Song of Solomon are anything to go by we'll need to find a way to bring our mind into submission to our heart if we are to grasp the kind of love God as for us.
God is all around us and his beauty is unmatchable. He is far too mysterious to be reduced to common forms of argument or minimized to scientific method alone. Theology is at its most inspiring when it's kissing poetry and we, as God's children, are walking testimonies that it is entirely possible.
So, don't allow yourself to boil your faith down to zeros and ones. Don't pander to the need to answer to every question or to only find beauty in resolution. Dive deep into the unknown of who you are with God in this very moment and allow the world around you to see in colour, whether your life is presently a celebration, a lament or a drama.
Friends, we have a song to sing and all of creation is waiting for us to release its melodic beauty.