Theology and Poetry


For me, theological reflection invites poetry. This poem was written on a hike that I took by myself while attending the WCC General Assembly in Busan, Korea. I encountered some surprising new friends.


Rain,

unexpected

for the hike to Soekbulsa.

The path,

gravely and dry,

barely dampened by the rain.

Steep,

difficult to follow,

my feet slid on tiny rocks.

The way

made easier by strangers,

other hikers, out for a Sunday climb.

A long dirt staircase

led to the steep paved road.

Quiet,

but not alone,

I walked.

I heard the sound of my feet hitting the pavement,

                                                    the rustle of the trees,

                                                                conversations I could not understand,

                                                    chanting calling me to the top of the mountain.

I saw deep grooves in the pavement to steady my feet,

the green of the forest,

the boundary markers between two worlds,

other climbers—people, cats, bugs. 

I found Soekbulsa.

A holy place carved in mountain stone.

Like nothing I have ever seen.

Serene.

Haunting.

Filled with chants.

The gate, open for anyone.

Buddhas and Boddhisattvas welcomed me.

Not all were carved in stone.

I was surprised by the offer to share a bowl of food. An encounter with the divine.

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