Jane Kenyon, “Notes from the Other Side”

Last night I was dabbling in The Graywolf Silver Anthology and hit upon a selection of poems from Jane Kenyon. I was immeasurably moved by “Notes from the Other Side,” in no small part because our congregation has been grieving and mourning alongside a family who are, unbelievably, unspeakably, journeying with their 21-year-old daughter through the valley of the shadow of death. And all of my theological ‘answers’ to evil (the free will defense, the importance of lament, etc., etc.) have been absolutely humbled by their unaccountable faith and grace and hope in the midst of profound sadness.

Notes from the Other Side

I divested myself of despair
and fear when I came here.
Now there is no more catching
one’s own eye in the mirror,
there are no bad books, no plastic,
no insurance premiums, and of course,
no illness. Contrition
does not exist, nor gnashing
of teeth. No one howls as the first
clod of earth hits the casket.
The poor we no longer have with us.
Our calm hearts strike only the hour,
and God, as promised, proves
to be mercy clothed in light.