Maybe nothing characterizes our daily lives so much as clamor. Things holler and claw at us, demanding attention, or at least time. There is the to-do list; there are the crises that spring up, bringing everything to a halt until they can be squashed back to a manageable size; there is the constant background noise of the world’s problems and tragedies.
But love and joy and quiet have a way of sneaking up on us. In Elizabeth’s poem “If God Is Love,” the speaker finds herself at a small oasis. A moment enclosed, in which she ponders both God’s love and the multitude of tiny, earthly loves that compete with it. As Elizabeth explains, “The nature of God’s existence is what enthralls,” this nature so “inextricably interwoven with the love of the material world and its varieties of love.”
Equally astonishing, perhaps, is our own desire and capacity for love. We must love something; we can’t help ourselves. I’m in the middle of reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved–an amazing and powerful novel, to say the least–and her character Paul D describes the effect slavery has on this human longing to love. Since you could not, as a slave, dare to love people or possessions, “…you protected yourself and loved small. Picked the tiniest stars out of the sky to own; lay down with head twisted in order to see the loved one over the rim of the trench before you slept. Stole shy glances at her between the trees at chain-up.”