Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kathleen Norris, Metaphor, and the Book of Revelation

I recently read this in Kathleen Norris's book The Cloister Walk and absolutely loved it. The quote comes at the end of a chapter where she has been reflecting on the time when St. John's (the Abbey at which she is an oblate) read John's Apocalypse straight through one morning. She found that reading it lectio style made the vision and the metaphors come alive. Insightfully she notes that "the images of apocalypse are meant to make us uncomfortable" (213), that it takes us "beyond the bounds of language and custom" (214). But it's what she says at the end the grabs my gut, heart, and head.
"Dragons within, dragons without. Evil so pervasive that only the poetry of apocalypse can imagine its defeat. And to do that it takes us to the limits of metaphor, of human sense, the limits of imagining and understanding. It pushes us against all our boundaries and suggest that the end of our control--our ideologies our plans, our competence, our expertise, our professionalism, our power--is the beginning of God's reign. It asks us to believe that only the good remains, at the end, and directs us toward carefully tending it here and now. We will sing a new song. Singing and praise will be all that remains. As a poet, that's a vision, and I promise, I can live with."

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