A Poem by Scott Cairns

A poem for the Feast of the Transfiguration

As We See

“The transfiguration of our Lord, that is the radiance
in which he was bathed at the pinnacle of Mount Tabor
did not manifest a change in him, but a change
in those who saw him.”
-Isaac the Least

Suppose the Holy One Whose Face We Seek
is not so much invisible as we
are ill-equipped to apprehend His grave
proximity. Suppose our fixed attention
serves mostly to make evident the gap
dividing what is seen and what is here.

The Book there on the stand proves arduous
to open, entombed as it is in layers
of accretion, layers of gloss applied
to varied purposes, hardly any of them
laudable, so many, guarded ploys
to keep the terms quite still, predictable.

Which is why I’m drawn to — why I love — the way
the rabbis teach. I love the way they read —
opening The Book with reverence for what
they’ve found before, joy for what lies waiting.
I love the Word’s ability to rise again
from chronic homiletic burial.

Say the One is not so hidden as we
are kept by our own conjuncture blinking,
puzzled, leaning in without result. Let’s say
the meek, the poor, the merciful all
suspect his hand despite the evidence.
as for those rarest folk, the pure in heart?
Intent on what they touch, they see Him now.

-Scott Cairns

Hear the poem read by the author here.

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