inadvertently i pass through serene streams and raging waterfalls. inadvertently i pass through impossible loves and autumn moons.
and one day i discovered that i had no eyes but i know i have seen
your eyes and also mine inadvertentlyh.m.
saints are poets gone astray. prophets are saints gone poet.
prayer is completely, utterly and decisively unnecessary. and that's why it's so important. god never asked that we pray to her. and that's why we must do it. but what is much more important than praying to god, is to hear the prayers that god prays to us.
we hear the prayers of god in the moans of the poor, the hungry and the homeless, in the cries of parents and children mourning their dead soldiers, in the deafening sound of the shackles that bind the oppressed. yes, and we also hear the prayers of god in the songs of the night crickets, in the hushed sound of lovers kissing under a fig tree, in the eyes of your beloved, in the first belly laughter of a little baby. god is like that, you know. he wont hear our prayers unless we hear his. and there isn't a thing we can do to change him. but if you ask me, i think she's absolutely right about this.
for prayer, true prayer, the kind poets pray, is the between of i and thou. prayer, like poetry, like god, is not only a song of the heart, it is essentially a deed of the whole-being. we cannot feed the poor with our hearts alone, or stop wars by pointing to heaven. we must teach the heart to touch the skin of the neighbor, or else we will see it die.
saints are poets gone astray. we restore sanity in the world by restoring poetry to the world. so we must demand of the saints to stop corrupting our poetry, and if they don't, we must immediately close the books of the saints and turn away to intently watch the deeds of the poets. we need poetry, we do not need saints.
sanity, of course, is not the same as healing. sometimes the fools among us are the true healers. healing cannot be restored to us, for it has never been. but poetry, on the other hand, was overtaken by holy words but it can surely be restored and be again.
prophets are saints gone poet. prophets know to discard the sad robes of withdrawal and clothe themselves with the beautiful skin of naked humanity. they know that we turn toward god by turning toward each other, and therefore the prophet asks: "what does god want from you?" and the prophet responds: what god wants from us is what we want from god. or they sometimes like to say it differently: god only wants peace, justice and love. he wants all that for himself and also for us, because there is no difference.
god wants what we want: we want to be present in life, and god wants to be present in life, but neither of us can, as the kotzker said, unless the other lets him in. god and us are when we meet in the between of any i and any thou. god and us cease to be when we become distracted.
and so the prophet insisted on this: his god demands that we turn our backs to "it" and turn to see the eyes of "thou". or sometimes they like to say it differently: it is not prayers his god is asking from us, but that we be the prayer we pray. or in their own words: we must be the ones who hear the prayer we pray. "shema israel" hear israel! says the god of the prophet, for it is easy to pray the words but much harder to hear them. remember this: every morning and every night, when they sat in their homes and when they walked on the road, when they lied down and when they arose, the prophets taught us this: the words of the gods we can only hear with our feet! words can dance in the air like the sweet breezes of a desert sunset, but if we want the words to also dance during the winter nights, we must ourselves become what they sing. "and the word became god" said the poet, and the word is us. for otherwise we have heard nothing. we must hear the words we pray, and if we do not there is no difference between a prayer and a curse. i have climbed from the depths of despair on the shoulders of letters and words, and then climbed right back down again when i failed to hear them. the prophets say: just be peace, just be love, just be justice, just be the prayer you pray, just be like his god is! that is what they are saying. and if we do, since being is doing and nothing else, each of us will be the prophet of our gods sitting near the walls of the city in ruins.
saints are poets gone astray. prophets are saints gone poet. true prophets have but one mission: to tell us that we do not need salvation, that it is salvation that needs us. true prophets made it clear: we do not need to be saved in order to become compassionate beings, for compassion is itself the salvation we seek. salvation comes to us by our own deeds of compassion, and for that reason true prophets assured us that the wellsprings of salvation flow eternally between you and me. we are saved in the compassion we manifest, for what is salvation if not our own persistent and mindful i-thou dialogue with our brothers and sisters?
true prophets said: we shall do and we shall hear. in other words, compassion cannot be taught, we must let compassion be our teacher. this is the message of the true prophet, the saint become poet: nothing saves us but our own decision to save ourselves, and we only save ourselves by saving others.
for we know that a prophet is not the one chosen by god, a prophet is the one who chooses god. but how do we chose god? in the embrace of a being. every person can chose to be a prophet, for none of us can stop any of us from saying thou to all of us. there is no other way. the prophets made it clear: we must urgently restore poetry because we are on the verge of being overrun by sad-robed saints and false prophets.
but for now, let us listen to prophecy from the mouths of the poets. let us pray for their kingdom come.