Three texts for the third month

March has been a diverse month: high highs, and low lows. Moments of clarity and thoughtfulness. Moments of knee-jerking and sudden reaction. We are not even half way in.

Here are three texts I have been meditating on over the last couple of weeks.

Song || Sonnet || Scripture

Song
Normal Person

Arcade Fire

Is anything as strange as a normal person?
Is anyone as cruel as a normal person?
Waiting after school for you
They want to know if you
If you’re normal too
Well, are you?
Are you?

I’m so confused. Am I a normal person?
You know, I can’t tell if I’m a normal person
It’s true, I think I’m cool enough, but am I cruel enough?
Am I cruel enough for you?

And they will break you down
Till everything is normal now
I know
And they will break down
Till everything is normal now
I know

They take their tea at two
All the normal people, they do
They burn the jungle down
While they were sleeping, it grew
You dream in English now
In proper English, look how
You’re just the same as me
It’s through

And they will break you down
Till everything is normal now
I know
And they will break down
Till everything is normal now
I know
If that’s what’s normal now
I don’t want to know
If that’s what’s normal now
Mama don’t make me go

When they get excited, they try to hide it
Look at those normals go
When they get excited, they try to hide it
Look at those normals go
When they get excited, they try to hide it
Look at those normals go
When they get excited, they try to hide it…No!

Maybe if you hang together
You can make the changes in our hearts
And if you hang together
You can change us, just where should you start?

I’ve never really ever met a normal person
I’ve never really ever met a normal person
I’ve never really ever met a normal person
I’ve never really ever met a normal person…Like you!
How do you do?
How do you do?

Oh my goodness. The guitar riffs hooked me in at the start, and then the clever variations in the melody, and then when I started listening to the words carefully that was the end of that. I love this song. It’s also been a great way to channel my knee-jerking.

This live version recorded by the public Australian radio station Triple J is different but just as good. I mean, I miss the guitar riffs, but it’s hard to complain when they’ve been replaced by a grand piano. And the violinist manages to play and sing backing vocals at the same time. Pretty amazing.

Sonnet
That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Clouds

Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows | flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-
Built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs | they throng; they glitter in marches.
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, | wherever an elm arches,
Shivelights and shadowtackle ín long | lashes lace, lance, and pair.

Delightfully the bright wind boisterous | ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare
Of yestertempest’s creases; | in pool and rut peel parches
Squandering ooze to squeezed | dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches
Squadroned masks and manmarks | treadmire toil there
Footfretted in it.

Million-fuelèd, | nature’s bonfire burns on.
But quench her bonniest, dearest | to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
Man, how fast his firedint, | his mark on mind, is gone!
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark
Drowned. O pity and indig | nation! Manshape, that shone
Sheer off, disseveral, a star, | death blots black out; nor mark
Is any of him at all so stark
But vastness blurs and time | beats level.

Enough! the Resurrection,
A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, | joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; | world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.

Last year we picked up a battered, mildewy copy of Hopkins’ poetry for two dollars and it’s been living on my bedside table.

I picked this poem to read at random over the weekend, and it’s been a sustaining meditation for me since. What a beautiful piece of work. Praise the Lord for Gerard Manley Hopkins. And for clouds and wind. And especially for the resurrection. I will be what Christ is, since he was what I am.

Scripture
Psalm 139

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night’,
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.

O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

That is all.
Praise the Lord, Oh my soul.

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