This Ethreal Basilica

I believe that the word inspiration speaks volumes to what happens as I engage in poetry, to be in-spired is to be spirited with a zealous creative bent splattering the canvas of my mind with words and colors and narrative imagery. I draw from this to create a “piece” and the “piece” is rightly described as only a fragment of the inner realm. That’s my source. It’s a chipped and beaten brick from my private gallery.

For me, I find the question best rephrased given this metaphor: what are the building materials of this inner life and who is the architect?

This is a mystery for me and a question fascinating to ruminate upon. I believe that the primal source is my spiritual life. I truly believe that I commune with my God and whether it is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit indwelling within me or images of Ezekiel before the throne of the Father, my Christian faith provides more than enough fervent energy to impassion my art. From the depths of Sheol in the Psalms to the Most High depicted as Alpha and Omega in Revelation, The Bible has been the foundational literary source for my sense of existential truth; and therefore I cannot help but watch it bleed up into everything I do.

Recognizing the foundation, I turn now to the walls and to the pillars upholding this ethereal basilica…

Philia-Sophia also known as philosophy or the love of wisdom. I love to discover new and needlessly complex words for simple concepts like “ontological” synonymous with “what has being.”

I love abstractions and dwelling on the particulars of words and the most simple of concepts. I am the person that makes mountains out of molehills.

Beyond philosophic ideas and texts, I find that innumerable scientific models of the world through contemporary advancements in neuroscience, biology, astronomy, psychology, and physics, all congeal into a symbiotic pillar.

Third, I’d say the relevant personal experiences with the world from my memories on high school sports teams to the back of cop cars, psych wards, and the Grand Canyon; from living in Cambodia for 5 months and hiking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, to rebuilding homes in Toa Baja and walking the cobblestone streets of Prague; my experiences have each significantly challenged the global and interpersonal perspective that I have. Hilarious day to day experiences and soul-crippling stares into the abyss of tragedy are what I lean on as another personal pillar.

Lastly, in this meta-basilica, is reverberating the eclectic sounds of the rap group “beautiful eulogy” and alternative-rock Christian worship music from the bands “Kings Kaleidoscope,” “Citizens and Saints,” and “Ghost Ship.” Hymns and pleas and jam sessions galore, countless other bands and musical artists have sang and played in this cathedral and I know they have each had their role in carving into my walls.

I think that it is under these three pillars: philosophy, science, and experience, and in the presence of much music and art, that my stain-glassed pupils attempt to project out onto the page a poem, a picture, or some other piece of prose.

3 Replies to “This Ethreal Basilica”

  1. I am far from a spiritual person. I was raised pretty much as an atheist with my dad being a critic of organized religion. However, I was born in Bulgaria, and their main religion is Orthodox Christianity. I would really recommend looking at all the old churches, not just in Bulgaria but in many European countries. Even to this day, the priests speak Latin. Whenever I go back home, I go to these church services because of the deep culture. The churches are beautiful, and I am sure that some inspiration will come from them and their very traditional ceremonies.
    You mention that you use life experience as one of your inspirations, and I really recommend bell hook’s Appalachian Elegy. This piece is centered around nature, like your hiking and the Grand Canyon, as well as her spiritual involvement. It is not necessarily a religious piece, but it definitely is spiritual. I also believe that you would like this poet because she does not use any punctuation in her poems as a rebellion of Western norms, and after reading your piece that uses a lot of punctuation, I feel as though this would be a good exercise to try to mimic her style.
    Once again, I am not Christian, so I cannot speak to religious bands. However, since you like rock music, I would recommend The 1975’s “If I Believe You” to see the other side of the spectrum. It has an agnostic feel while the narrator questions his beliefs. The lead singer is technically an atheist, but even atheists question their beliefs at times. I know that I did when I was a child, and sometimes I still question them. The song itself mixes gospel music with modern rock and pop sounds. It will give you a different perspective on religion, I believe.

  2. I love poems that deal with the Bible— you should absolutely look into C.T. Salazar’s works. Any poem he writes about God leaves me resonating for a while, and I think you could really get some inspiration from the way he discusses Him in a way that is both reverent and beautiful. I know that ‘Noah’s Nameless Wife Takes Inventory’ is the most readily available online, but you should really check them all out. When it comes to writing about travel and nature, I think that the NYT travel section is always super evocative and beautiful, so you could probably find inspiration in that. I also agree that you should check out Mary Oliver. She has a way of shining her attention onto a landscape or plant or animal, then showing the way she loves it via her poems.

  3. I’d definitely recommend Joshua Kryah’s Glean to you; Kryah wrote it while at (or shortly after being at) Seminary, and its interestingly steeped in religious knowledge and a question of personal searching. (Funnily enough, while trying to check the details of Kryah’s writing Glean, I found this .pdf from Pius Library which might have some other poets to explore:

    One of the fascinating challenges for writers inspired by spirituality is navigating the goals of communicating (or communing, as you note) that spirituality. A similar challenge can face the political poet: is the goal to document/witness, to recommend, to question/explore, to narrate, to bring to light the hidden? In reality, of course, the answer is a combination, but it’s going to be worth paying attention to how a range of poets see their relationship to a poem’s goal.

    Finally, if you’ve not come across Thomas Merton’s writing, I think you’ll find some paths forward within it. “Poetry and the Contemplative Life” and “Rain and the Rhinoceros” would be good starting points, I think.

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