Hazelnut Forest revisited

In March I wrote a puzzle poem Hazelnut Forest, its title an equation,
λ = 2πħ/p
so here is, as I said would be, the promised explanation.

The forest is the universe when the Word made all things new,
and the Spirit found the first conditions good and proving true.
Its leaves, the smallest particles of which the world is made,
the calling birds swift flying in the dappled light and shade,
are photons that were called to be when light was first displayed.

Its title is a formula, a particle’s waveform,
for everything is energy,
and particles just seem to be
the focus of a mystery,
the fine eye of the storm.

Another poem followed that wondered at the size
of the forest (or the world) as seen by wiser eyes.

How small the forest? We really cannot see.
We cannot give position, speed, time or volition;
to what is all around us, a truly strange admission.
As size get small and smaller, in the atoms heart and less,
in proton, quark or photon, and spacetime’s emptiness,
there is a finite limit bound in uncertainty.
How small is the forest? It’s just too small to see,
for in that finite limit is all infinity.

Men like Werner Heisenberg,
Max Planck and de Broglie,
worked out the math, and many more
have worked at detail and for sure,
where you and I give up and snore,
they plucked cherries from the tree.

A Circle With a Volume, I recall,
the last and strangest poem of them all,
came from Planck’s discovery
that length, like time, just cannot be reduced
infinitesimally small.
No matter what dimensions that we tell,
the smallest there can be, that we call Planck’s Length, L,
gives structure to the rest. There is no spell
that lets us cut fine finer till there’s nothing there at all.

The smallest, fundamental space,
the smallest, fundamental time,
are bound with that uncertainty
that binds the forest leaves.

Centre to edge is less than width,
the wheel’s centre to its rim,
your nose to your ear,
less than the wheel’s width,
less than ear to ear.

But the width of a fundamental
is the smallest distance possible .
Where can its centre be?
How far from its edge?

W. B. Yeats’ troubled poem The Second Coming that I quoted in this poem sums the uncertainty and the resulting fragility astonishingly aptly:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

From the inbuilt uncertainty of this fundamental seed, spacetime burst in an instant, followed by an immense expansion phase.
From fundamental to universal in microseconds.

This volume, this conundrum,
too veiled for us to see,
a mystery its diameter,
its radius an enigma,
the Sybil of Cumae,
time in eternity.

Ah! The Sybil of Cumae! Who was she?
Tis said she asked Apollo, who wanted her to wife,
that she might have, though mortal, as many years of life
as the grains of sand held in her hand.

False promises were made and when her wish was gained
her favours were withdrawn – Apollo raged.
Trapped through the years, her body aged;
kept shrinking in a jar ’til just her voice remained.

And why a hazelnut forest? In the mid-fourteenth century, following a vision, Dame Julian of Norwich compared all creation to a hazelnut held in God’s hand.
Such a tiny thing, encompassing all creation, shown her by God in a series of visions in which she saw the depth and greatness of His love for all mankind.

Pain and Prayer

When I began this site in June 2015 I wrote that all existence is co-existence (the same theme pervades my book Namestone). There is a use for this in dealing with those pains, small or large, that we suffer from time to time, and the more persistent ones that just won’t go away.

Pain can be overwhelming, dominant, crippling, making prayer come in unavoidable gasps or silent sobs.

But not always.

Pain is a master of disguise. It hides under a cloak of words, masquerades as a hundred little irritants, small smarts, failures. The prayers we make at those times can be just as involuntary. Mistaking them for blasphemies we may not recognise them as prayers; what we get may be an answer, but not as we know it. We can be as dissatisfied with our prayers for ourselves as easily as with our prayers for others. We all have our share of pains and weaknesses, or worries and woes – unhappy pains, the many little or large ‘crosses’ we carry in our luggage through life.

But if Christ bore the pain of the cross for our sake, for our sins, our failings, can we not bear these little things for others? Use them as a reminder. Every time you feel your pain, commit to God a pain someone else carries. Do not ask for it to be taken away, dedicate it to that someone. Ask for it to be a reminder of that of your friend. Every time you feel it, commit your friend’s trouble to the arms of God. Co-existence is not only getting along with other people but caring and sharing.

You may find you have gone for a time without feeling it. That was good. Then it returns. That is good too, a reminder of your friend. Phone or speak to her, to him. Do not mention your own problem, show you care about hers, about his. Shared pain, even when your friend does not know of yours, is like sharing a heavy load.

What seems like a problem can become a small reminder of God-in-Christ’s act at Easter. Your personal ills will seem less sad. Existence is, and always must be, co-existence.

The Road to Emmaus

I was on my way, responsible,
duty bound, committed,
not knowing why;
lost.

They would be waiting, the room prepared,
Bitter herbs, wine, bread,
but I asked why;
lost.

I turned away,
rootless, bruised and scared.
I walked by, all I trusted, dead.
I knew not why;
lost.

Lost, the meaning of my life and hopes,
my faith,
and she I loved, behind me,
tearless, crying,
lost.

Six steps behind me, dutiful,
priced above rubies,
the wife of my youth,
weeping, hopeless,
she and I,
lost.

We should have gone in,
the final feast day called,
Torah, the living Law,
but I asked, ‘Why?’
Lost, lost, lost.

Ah! Wife of my youth!
Priced above rubies,
six paces behind me, dutiful,
how can I tell you your duty is nothing,
nothing.
Lost.

I walked behind him,
six paces behind, dutiful,
a dutiful wife.
It was all I had left.
He needed me more now
than all the years from our youth.

A woman learns to keep on.
Love may be lost,
trust may be false,
hope abandoned.
We keep on.
The harvest fails,
the men despair,
children die,
we do not know why.
Keep on.

My tears mingled with his on the road.
He slowed,
hand stretched behind
to me.
I took it.

At some deserted spot we stopped.
Home far ahead,
hope far behind,
hands clasped.
He asked,
‘Why? How? What now?’

‘Keep on,’ I said,
‘if hope is lost, home is still ahead.’
He let my hand fall, weeping.

I could not see him through my tears.
I felt for his hand and felt mine grasped,
Strongly, firmly, flowing with life.

A stranger stood there holding us both.

‘What are you saying to one another
as you walk along?
Why are you so sad?’