Reclaiming the Sacred in a Disenchanted World (Poem)

Reclaiming the Sacred in a Disenchanted World (Poem)

The Sacred and the Disenchanted


We don’t need teachers like the teachers of yore —
the old time ones who would guide you through a book
who would insist that some knowledge has to be known.
It’s not important to teach knowledge anymore.
If we need to know something, just consult the net.


Of course, the internet is not only stupid,
it gets stupider by the day.
The fact is all new knowledge is a refinement of the old.
And so, if we don’t already know something, we can learn the new.
We just add new bits and pieces to a machine we call memory.
When this happens, we lose the name of understanding.
We are left with mere fragments.


Cyberspace robs us of the intimacy of the book.
Clicking on a link brings us nowhere in particular.
However, we knew perfectly well that that passage we were looking for
was three quarters away through the thickness of this embodied book.


We don’t need the wood cutters of old —
those who knew the difference between which branches would yield to the axe and which would not.
The bandsaw is indifferent to all such distinctions.
The soft pine is no different from the recalcitrant maple.
The ignorant efficiency of the bandsaw severs our connection to the wood
and erodes our appreciation of what makes wood worthy.


When travel happily to new places
freed from the annoying need to navigate.
We can rely on our global positioning systems
to move us through space without awareness
of routes, of landmarks, of the texture of the road,
or of the stars or the place of the sun sky —
all experiences that used to guide our helmsmanship.
We need only obey the dumb directive to turn left or right.


And so, while our excursions become easier,
we lose the intimacy of connecting to the world.
We move through abstract rather than embodied space,
unreflective in our actions,
merely following the orders of a disembodied voice.


Detached from the world, we retreat into our selves
to look for something we think we will find inside.
But the individual self is an empty one;
we cannot be selves without connecting to the world;
we cannot be selves except through other selves.
Modern cotton gins both free and enslave;
their convenience disconnect us from sacred relations.
We need not leave those cotton gins behind.
(We can’t anyways)


But we do need to resurrect a world
animated by the sacredness of how we relate to
the wood, the book, the road, and each other.


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