My favorite poem is “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond” by e. e. cummings. It’s a love poem, just five stanzas, written from one lover to their beloved. But I also hear it as a love poem to God. A psalm.
Listen to the second stanza:
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose
And the last:
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
Some of us may hear in the invitation to be still and open to God a gracious invitation to rest and trust. Others of us may hear an impossible demand that only increases our anxiety and fear, warning us to close up in self-protection. Does our worship theme (and prayer) calm you or exhaust you?
If for you it’s the latter, don’t be afraid. Chances are, Grace is speaking to you in a different language. Perhaps the language of e. e. cummings’ love psalm.
It promises that God looks at you gently, like a lover beholding you, God’s beloved—including when you are anxious, afraid, and armed. It promises that you need not open yourself, but God opens you like Spring touches and opens her first rose.
Cumming’s secular psalm melts my defenses and opens me to trust and to love. I often pray, “God, I can’t surrender this anxiety to you. Take it from me.” And time and again, God has. So this poem is my grateful prayer of thanks. “Beloved God, nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.”