National Poetry Month, Day 24 // Because God rested after the six days of creation – so the story goes (Exod. 20:8-11) – we are to do the same, every seventh day of every week. Do nothing, the elders tell us, but let the work of God suffice without any contribution or meddling from us. Enjoy creation. Respect and honor it for what it is rather than for what we make it.
For some, the command to keep a holy sabbath becomes a sacred duty, an obligation to fulfill. But I imagine God simply resting on that day, trusting creation to do what it was made to do, while God “lies dreaming in the lap of the world,” as poet Linda Gregg phrased it. And I imagine dreaming with God in the lap of the world the way my dogs and I nap together in the comfort of our bed on a cool and cloudy afternoon in early spring.
For so many of us humans, who have forgotten our existential connection with the earth, creation has become a resource to be exploited instead of a sustaining and nurturing lap in which to regularly lie down for a nap. We’re spoiling our nest. The balance has tipped, and collectively we are making a mess of it. But there are still “fish in the net,” poems of many varieties that quietly delight God, pulings or yearnings of the heart that are never expressed as poetry or anything else other than soul-deep sighs. They’re breaking out all around me, and all I have to do to catch one of them is stay quiet for a while.
“Fishing in the Keep of Silence,” by Linda Gregg (1942-2019)
There is a hush now while the hills rise up
and God is going to sleep. He trusts the ship
of Heaven to take over and proceed beautifully
as He lies dreaming in the lap of the world.
He knows the owls will guard the sweetness
of the soul in their massive keep of silence,
looking out with eyes open or closed over
the length of Tomales Bay that the herons
conform to, whitely broad in flight, white
and slim in standing. God, who thinks about
poetry all the time, breathes happily as He
repeats to Himself: There are fish in the net,
lots of fish this time in the net of the heart.