These days after the resurrection, the Gospel tells us that the disciples are startled, terrified, and troubled. And even more so, they are full of doubt! We know the story of the doubting Thomas, but he was not the only doubter! The disciples, apostles included, needed to receive assurance from Jesus in his post-resurrection appearances when “he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” Christ would suffer, die, and rise from the dead on the third day and in his name repentance and remission of sins must be preached to all nations.
Since April is national poetry month , let’s look at some of Emily Dickinson’s poems that I plan to present to my adult class in Saint Agnes-Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, where I serve. This Sunday’s reading of the Gospel still talks about the experience of doubt in the early followers of Christ. Here is Emily’s poem I chose:
Though the great Waters sleep
That they are still the Deep,
We cannot doubt..
No vacillating God
Ignited this Abode
To put it out.
The central line of the poem, “We cannot doubt,” sounds out with a strong assurance that God does not vacillate but pronounces a certainty of the continuance of the self after death. This assurance takes on a force of nature such as the flood of “great Waters.” What can we do but allow God to bear us safely on this tide in faith to eternal life as long as we, according to the Gospel, “repent of our sins and ask to be forgiven.”
Poetry, like mantra, has the power to inform our reality simply through repetition. So let’s make of poetry a renewal of its discovery this month of April along with the song of the robin as a valid source of enhancing our personal spirituality and relationship with God, and Creation!