ON LOOKING UP BY CHANCE AT THE CONSTELLATIONS
You’ll wait a long, long time for anything much
To happen in heaven beyond the floats of cloud
And the Northern Lights that run like tingling nerves.
The sun and moon get crossed, but they never touch,
Nor strike out fire from each other, nor crash out loud.
The planets seem to interfere in their curves,
But nothing ever happens, no harm is done.
We may as well go patiently on with our life,
And look elsewhere than to stars and moon and sun
For the shocks and changes we need to keep us sane.
It is true the longest drouth will end in rain,
The longest peace in China will end in strife.
Still it wouldn’t reward the watcher to stay awake
In hopes of seeing the calm of heaven break
On his particular time and personal sight.
That calm seems certainly safe to last tonight.
Robert Frost, West-Running Brook, 1928
I read Frost’s poem on this blog: First Known When Lost, where it was posted this week along with a couple of others that may be seen as following a theme. Stephen Pentz leads off his article with the reminder that “… the feeling that the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket is a timeless feature of human nature.”
Then he leads the reader to make a distinction between the world and the World. I have been thinking lately about Mary Oliver’s poem “Messenger,” which is about this, and I’d say “Landscape” as well.
The details of our given “work assignments” are unique to each of us; we need to look to God for light and strength to do the essential spiritual work, which will help us to be ready for any more public tasks that come our way. Pentz’s last line sums it up pretty well:
“Life is ever a matter of attention and gratitude, don’t you think?”