Day After Day

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum 
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn’t earned
the world’s end.
~Wisława Szymborska “Vermeer”
trans. Clare Cavanagh & Stanisław Barańczak

I am struck by the expression of so much widespread hopelessness: the earth is being destroyed by humanity. Our continued existence is causing the world’s end.

This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve felt such desperation about our relationship with the world. It happened long ago when we chose to eat the fruit of the one forbidden tree and as a result were banned from the Garden. It happened with the plague when careless exposures wiped out entire villages. It happened when our wars left behind no living thing, leaving the ground itself cinders. It happened with the threat of imminent nuclear holocaust as missiles remain pointed at each other.

Still the sun rises and the sun sets, day after day. We don’t know for how much longer. Only God knows as God put us here with a plan.

So we continue to pour the milk as a sacrament: quietly, with great concentration, as that is the work we do, day after day. We still milk the cows and raise the wheat for bread and conceive children and raise them up as best we can. As long as we continue to do the work of the Garden, even while we dwell outside it, we are not causing the apocalypse. It is God’s world, after all, and all that is in it.

So we keep milking and keep pouring.

4 thoughts on “Day After Day

  1. I have always agreed with your comments and have often been moved to tears, not only by your prose and poetry selections, but your commentary that adds to the selections.

    However, unless I have misunderstood your meaning in the third to the last sentence about not “causing the apocalypse”, I have to disagree. Our overuse of fossil fuels, including the epidemic use/abuse of plastic that has been found in small particles on Earth’s highest mountains and smallest oceans, is now causing a breakdown in Planet Earth’s health. We are responsible for this condition Planet Earth is in, it is undeniable. My point is we have been assigned the job as humans to be stewards of God’s creation and we have not lived up to that divine calling. Scientists say we still have time, but very little time. God gave us this planet in perfect condition. We have to do our part to save it—all of us have to put pressure on our government to do all in our power to turn things around.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Jan, thank you for your feedback. I could have been much clearer ( the hazard of writing at 5:30 AM)- if we were still doing the work commanded of us in the Garden, we would not be the cause of the apocalypse. We ignored our God-given tasks in our rush to knowledge, and now, outside the Garden, we are obliged to go back to creation-care but still want what we want when we want it. Milking and pouring- can we ever return to that simplicity?


  3. Thank you for the clarification. But we do live in a world where so many refuse to accept humans’ contribution to “Mother Nature’s fever”. I am becoming overly sensitive to that train of thought that leads to continued climate crisis.

    I do thank you for your lovely blog. I am touched by your meaningful, thoughtful posts every day. Thank you. God bless you.
    Jan Bird

    Liked by 1 person

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