The Ancient Modern

As the Beginning, So the End |  Just Before Sunrise /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

Once, we believed the world began in silence, that manifestation was gently prompted by a Word.
A Spirit over the Waters.
Let there be Light.
A world unviolated.
A cosmos resting on the hand of God.

Now, we commonly speak of the “Big Bang,” of a universe deafened and diffused.
A noise.
A senseless explosion.
A cosmos bloating and decaying.
Vomiting itself. Devouring itself.

The division between these two world-views comes down to a simple question: is Reality born in peace or in cataclysm? Beneath the complex surface of religion, science, philosophy and ethics, all individuals and cultures believe in one or the other kind of Origin.

And what we say about the Origin will determine what choices we make as individuals and as societies.
Should the Earth be used or cooperated with?
Should we shout at or whisper to one another?
Should we live as bodies or through our bodies?
Should international politics be based on economic or cultural interests?

A belief that peace pervades all things, that all comes from and returns to rest, will inspire wisdom and gentility in our actions. Our joys and our griefs will be meaningful and connected with the joys and griefs of others.

But a belief that everything we see and feel started from violence, suffers the violation of blind forces and ends in violence will subtly direct all of our decisions toward selfish, immediate gratifications.

I do not see a middle ground, unless it is in the degree to which we believe in either peace or cataclysm.

Many never consider the origin and underlying principles of their lives. So, not having considered what we believe, we act without much thought; our building or destroying is largely unconscious.

All our decisions, large or small, deliberate or accidental, considered or ignorant, affect the whole of the Real as it quietly progresses toward its appointed end.

The way the Cosmos is born is the way it will be reborn.
A Word leading to Order, or
A Noise leading to Chaos.
A Peace preparing for endless Sabbath, or
An Exhaustion leading to endless Oblivion.

Our entrance into this process is involuntary. That is, we arrive in media res without our prior approval. We do not choose whether to participate, but the manner of our participation involves our intention, will and contemplation. Words like “freedom,” “happiness,” and “hope” are meaningless without an Origin and a Return.

Reality is nascent.
Life is being made, being born around us.
And we are, even now, attendants at a great birth
and our dispositions nurture or else poison the Child.


Just Before Sunrise

Go in thought to the origin of time:
to when the earth was quiet and unknown:

the consciousness of Earth diffuse,
a mist settled among planets and stars,

a silence wandering among the trees.
The silence blends invisibly with the breath

of many mouthsof plants and animals
watching, waiting, observing the light;

storms and sunsets, all in preparation.
The concept and conception of the Real

has only just occurred. Gestation begins
rapidlybut so small, so inconspicuous,

so hiddenly that Nature cannot tell when
or how She began to know Herself. She

is (as yet) a broad extent, a readiness:
untouched, an empty shape, unreflected.

She is breath, muscle, blood and eyes
but not yet a voice, not yet a reply.

Heaven and Earth, made to receive
the Word, are now (as ever) creases

on the flesh of God’s open Hand.


All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2020 by Joshua Alan Sturgill

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