dust, a draft

Genesis’ Abram, Phillip Pullman, author, Dust ( His Dark Materials ) and CS Lewis’ Narnia

Phillip Pullman lives in Oxford and in a real sense the opposite of another Oxford resident, CS Lewis. Lewis is champion of Christianity; Pullman is an avowed opponent. Yet, they have more in common than an Oxford life: both have written loved children books in series – ‘His Dark Materials’ and for Lewis, the Narnia narratives. Worlds, alternative lands, ‘dust’ are the settings of each of their series. And they use ‘dust’ to serve as connective tissue in their imaginative universes.

Pullman described ‘Dust’ in a 2017 interview as “an analogy of consciousness, and consciousness is this extraordinary property we have as human beings”.

And,

“Dust came into being when living things became conscious of themselves; but it needed some feedback system to reinforce it and make it safe, as the mulefa had their wheels and the oil from the trees. Without something like that, it would all vanish. Thought, imagination, feeling, would all wither and blow away, leaving nothing but a brutish automatism; and that brief period when life was conscious of itself would flicker out like a candle in every one of the billions of worlds where it had burned brightly.”

— The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 34

Dust here is created when we are conscious of we. And we use this dust, along with consciousness of any type, if we don’t create and recreate with it.

CS Lewis has no desire to create a detailed world with Narnia. Lewis wants only to create a brief illusion of some extra dimension. ( or Dust ) And, in at least one reported conversation shows, he was indifferent to breaches of internal consistency in the stories. His good friend, the poet Ruth Pitter, challenged him about how the Beaver family in The Lion manage to produce potatoes for their meal with the children, given the wintry conditions that had prevailed for most of living memory; not to mention oranges, sugar and suet for the marmalade roll.

Yet a world is created, a new garden paradise where sin is overcome by love. Narnia is CS Lewis’ Canaan and Dust is Pullman’s paradise. In one evil and wrong is when consciousness is being stifled and disconnected; in the other awareness of a child’s innocence ( the forgiveness and rescue Edmund ) is is preserved by Aslan’s self-sacrificing love. Sin here is forgiven, then forgotten. In Pullman’s works ‘sin’ is the lost consciousness, forgetting.

Both these series call to mind the journey of Abram from place to place; from being Abram to becoming Abraham. Dust connects Abram from world to worlds. And he walks to get there, growing in consciousness, covering in dust, as he walks. As in here,in Genesis 12,

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,

    and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

    and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

    and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

    will be blessed through you.”

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Abram travels to an unknown land to grow in knowing himself and his God. The God who created the first man, Adam, out of dust is now using this same dark material to reform Abram, and also his descendants, us.

Genesis 13 continues Abram’s story,

‘But the land ( the dust ) could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.

“The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land ( dust )that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.”

Dust in Abram’s walk parallels his attentive look, his call by his God to see, the uncountable stars. Each star, each particle, each seed is a new world. We just have ‘walk’ to see, walk to understand, to grow.

Consciousness in these texts come from dust, stars, and from seeing. And from these new worlds of consciousness come life.

And from Genesis 15

Young’s Literal Translation

and He bringeth him out without, and saith, ‘Look attentively, I pray thee, towards the heavens, and count the stars, if thou art able to count them;’ and He saith to him, ‘Thus is thy seed

come

we are, because he first was
with his father,the word,

madeflesh
a breathe giving breathe, a prophet, sung over, loved over


a baby in a manger,

a child in a temple,
loved, fathered, befriended honoured fed,

a carpenter,alone, called baptised by John, by spirit, in Jordan’s river waters

in a desert,

deserted, alone, focused

we, his, become his

I come

an advent first draft

advent wonders, angelic voices
the smallest    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace.’ Micah 5 

I have walked the hills and fields surrounding Bethlehem and in the town itself. The people there are Palestinians thru and through.  All places, for me, are composed of their peoples, the fields have its shepherds, flocks and farmers; the town its small businesses and restaurants. The town buildings and streets are papered with praises of Allah and demands for unbelievers to depart. 
Bethlehem’s peoples love to speak. A friend shared with me that they were people of ‘tent’; and people who love to gossip, ‘ who speak as the winds, blowing.’ 
Bethlehem before Jesus spoke in the softest, the gentle less of voices. Micah, a prophet grouped with others called by academics, the ‘lesser prophets’ speaks God’s,  words, his gifts to us. Less calls to, speaks of less. 
In my thoughts, my memories, my life, I am small, really somewhat insignificant. Forgotten  ,rejected, betrayed by others and myself, I – in truth – grow smaller with time and peoples. 
I am as a sheep on a hill, in a pasture.
Advent is a time of unspoken expectations; silenced worries and concerns. For me these moments, these Advent times, have always been laced with sadness. Visually, trees have let go of their leaves; dark nights come as days let light fade. And in 2020 people await a vaccine, a small liquid to cure an invisible and even smaller virus. We wait for a saving, a cure: a return of, to peace.
Israel, Bethlehem also waited. And Jesus came. 
He came as a baby, the softest and smallest of things that can be held. He came into a broken marriage that needed resurrection. He came to the smallest of towns, Bethlehem, from the most broken of worlds. Why?

He came to give a physical form to prophet’s words; Jesus came to listen those silenced and to those self-silenced; he came to speak for the sinner and the meek. And he, Jesus, still comes. And Micah’s soft angelic prophetic voice sings 
‘Who is a God  like you,
    who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
    and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
    in days long ago.’

Jesus comes in Micah’s whisper, ‘… you will be faithful…’
Advent comes. Jesus has been, is and will always be faithful to his promise embedded in Bethlehem of his birth: my sins and sadness; my rejections and betrays. Silences and my own sins and self-silencing is gone.
Trampled underfoot, hurled away, my sins no longer shout unto me. In Advent comes the softest of sounds, the silence of peace, ‘forgiveness.’
Advent wonders, songs, mercy, forgiveness.
Delight

poems, first, Gluck, olds, me

poems, first, Gluck, olds, me

words, spoken, silences heard

‘I love you, I need you, I want you’

as she was leaving for a day away, Barbara wrote this on a big sheet of paper in script for me. She said she loved another and me, but knew she loved me. confused, she was. I told her never to say she loved me again earlier. Now, she writes it. that November we separated for good, good.

‘I don’t love you enough to fo that’

I realise now her physical longings were not, never for me. Older, her early thirties, she desire opened as rain waters. we both misread the rains. her body ached for, to love, a child. only a child

‘ I will never hurt you as Barbara did’

but you did. and didn’t. did not. worst.

‘I will always be there for you’

I am learning, have found, global language, insidious, useless, a mourn and wordless trumpet song, the ‘always;’ the ‘nevers’ are the stories the unfaithful speak out loud faithfully, or in a silence to,- only

me

‘this is a new beginning for us. Now it is just me and charlie.’

I weep, self-silence cries, tears, grief fo you my Priscilla. You are so hurt by, what you love, loved.

beloved, your heart’s desire, your radix, your loves are no longer. deserted, uncalled, unthought of, surrounded by the brown and dethroned, you say words for a life of vita nova

I cry for your sadness. I knew and know.

speak.

a counsellor’s lament, 2

The retro trench coats and firearms also suggest a sort of eternal recurrence, and as Looper’s plot gets more complex, its central question simplifies: If we can’t fix our mistakes, can we at least make sure we don’t repeat the same ones over and over again?”

you can’t go home again, or is it,

You, can’t go home, again or

or, well, – it doesn’t matter , it doesn’t really

matter

that is what my wrestler, The Rock, says, it doesn’t matter

I think he got it from Albert Camus in his novel The Stranger, from the first chapter,

Meursault, our first person narrator,

‘He suggested I should go to the refectory for dinner, but I wasn’t hungry. Then he proposed bringing me a mug of café au lait. As I am very partial to café au lait I said, “Thanks,” and a few minutes later he came back with a tray. I drank the coffee, and then I wanted a cigarette. But I wasn’t sure if I should smoke, under the circumstances—in Mother’s presence. I thought it over; really, it didn’t seem to matter, so I offered the keeper a cigarette, and we both smoked.’

it didn’t seem to matter, that mother died or that I smoked by her closed coffin,

the counsellor’s word or looks,

my thoughts, or feelings, my assumptions, or expectations, have no matter

my commas, my pauses, all really don’t matter

people need to hope, to believe that their words from themselves to a counsellor, or from a counsellor to the heater, or the group have meaning, but

as the flick Looper tells us, we can’t fix our mistakes but we can break the hamster’s endless, running circles /

I stop feeling; and so, stop making the same mistakes over and over… most, all, of mine are always on, turning, over and over, so if this counsellor can help anyone, even themselves, then stop speaking and, …it will be….

over, turn it over,

overflow

the counsellors’ lament

meditations on 13 ways of listening

I

Diana came to door with ice tears, traversing her cheeks, living

sorrow streaking as early autumn black squirrels, all around her crescent

moon face,

“ He took pictures of me as I was walking down the street, that woman saw me and cried ‘Carmen, Carmen, bring the camera. She’s here!’

coming for tea and love, empathy and sympathy over the, a dead marriage( 49 years; six children; millions in savings lost, cashed out ) the house of a lifetime no

longer hers,

ambushed

49 years, or 7,

a month of days or a

day

does it matter? the hurt always returns; time heals nothing; nothing

even fading memory, dementias,

are betrayers, as in Porter’s story ‘the jilting of granny weatherall’

no thing is weathered

Nothing

all is absorbed in tears, sobs, utterances of pains that return

as waves to surfed in the seas

seven deadly sins; seven seas; 7

horcruxes

seven ages of man; seven dwarves

the counsellor cannot tell one dwarf from the other; one sea, one sin, one horcrux from another

tears all run the same,

as waves, emotions engulfing,

enclosing emotions

tears run the same

poem, risk


the risk of birth, is a selected book of Christ-poems given to me, the first is the title poem, ‘The Risk of Birth’
by Madeleine L’EngleThis is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honor & truth were trampled to scorn—
Yet here did the Savior make His home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn—
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth…. or this 

Snowdrops”: 

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring –

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

from Louise Gluck

… but

each poem is a cry of, for, risk and…

you took risk coming to my flat after you rejected me from your family party, celebrating Sean’s birth, after multiple lupus induced miscarriages

( Genie and Dave’s only child, Eugenia kept risking )

you came, we kissed, you went to my bath and changed to your skin, apologising as you emerged for the slight scars on your skin

you risked, for a birth promise,

and receiving, giving births followed

you risked,

a son

my son died when he was

22, on Mother’s Day weekend 1996

military call up accident he was driving to a regiment call from one of his girl friend’s house; his girl friend’s car was lent to him ( though she knew his license was suspended – her father was a big wig New Jersey judge who thought we would sue her – we didn’t meet his expectations)

after we got his body from Fort Bragg North Carolina and returned to Nee York, the memorial service was a hot mess

departed, separted from his wife of two years she showed and so did two diamond ringed fiancés, one from Georgia, the other from Texas

they didn’t know each other

I asked them to leave as they got their early like us, his family,

adopted, abused from before birth

Joey needed a healing I couldn’t give or

get from loving