Elinor Shea, O.S.U.

Recently, a memory of childhood delight returned to me. I was searching for help. Help to hold together, in some meaningful and ordered fashion the rich and varied experiences constantly flooding my awareness. Experiences of myself, my world, my universe; my relationships, my work, my friendships; my God, and my place in the universe.

This search is an attempt to be open and receptive to the world of my awareness today, without being overwhelmed or rendered mute and despairing.

“What kind of experience?” you may ask. Ones such as the Arab Spring, for example. Or our landing on Mars. Genetic research and Monsanto. The Nuns on the Bus. Occupy Wall Street. Evolutionary consciousness. Gay marriage. Sustainability and global warming, drought, and floods. The Olympics and the World Series. Immigration reform. Poverty and hunger on our planet. Persistent unemployment. The LCWR assessment. Rising hopes and fears in the Middle East, global consciousness, persistent violence in Syria. The elections, endless campaigning. Things like these, and so many more.

“And the childhood memory that brought delight?” It was a memory of my first encounter with a kaleidoscope. Can you recall the wonder? How it could hold together a great variety of colors and shapes, and with them, form a design, a fascinating pattern that could then be lost by a simple turn of the wrist—and immediately replaced by another, equally beautiful design. So amazing to a young mind!

Is that what I need now? Is there such an image now to hold and serve the imprints from the vast horizon to which my awareness is drawn? An image more organic and inclusive to hold in dynamic tension the richness and endlessly unfolding mystery that is before me now?

“Send in the poets!” I cry. Surely they can help me, these visionaries. Did you not search and struggle as I do to give expression to your vision? What can you tell me, dear friends?

From the Lake District, wrestling with the effects of the Industrial Revolution on his world, Wordsworth laments, “The world is too much with us, late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”

Later, in the early twentieth century, Edna St. Vincent Millay, with a contrasting elan, exults, “O World, I cannot hold you close enough.”

Yeats broods forebodingly about his post-World War I world: “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”

Closer to our time, Christopher Fry asserts: “Affairs are now soul-size. The enterprise is exploration into God.”

The response changes with past time. I speak and search in this time, my time.

Is there a poet for me now, to bring me an offering, and image, more organic, more flexible, more fitting for our time, a container for a new revelation? Come! Offer me an image, more organic than the kaleidoscope, more apt for our time, more inclusive and transparent. Come!

Welcome, Denise Levertov.


Intricate and untraceable,
weaving and interweaving,
dark strand with light

Designed, beyond
all spiderly contrivance,
to link, not to entrap.

elation, grief, joy, contrition entwined
shaking, changing




all praise,

all praise to the

great web.

Thank you, Denise, mystic activist of our time. Thank you for this gift.

This web can hold.