Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning…
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.
from Burnt Norton (1936) part of Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
Eliot didn’t have birds or future tweets of the 21st century in mind when he wrote Burnt Norton in 1936. He was far more concerned about the concept of time and redemption, using the analogies of a garden, a graveyard, and most disturbingly, a subway train of empty-souled people traveling under London in the dark. Only the present matters as the past cannot be changed and the future remains unknown, trusting the reassurance and salvation of Logos, the source of the natural and creative order of all things. Only God Himself remains outside of the constraints of time and place.
Perhaps Eliot had predicted the unknowable future. It now is a “twittering world” in a way that Eliot, critical of dehumanizing technology of his time, somehow was prescient enough to foresee.
When birdsong begins on our farm in early June at 4 AM in the apple, cherry, chestnut, and walnut trees outside our bedroom windows, I am brought face to face, eyes and ears wide open, with the immediate present, distracted from the distraction of my dreams by the distraction of awakening to music of the creative order among the branches, amidst cool morning air.
Once the birds settle into routine conversation after twenty minutes of their loudly tweeted greetings of the day, I sit down bleary-eyed at my computer to enter the twittering world of technology, too often filled with fancies and empty of meaning.
Yet, I’m determined. Not here the darkness, if I can keep it at bay.
No darkness here.