In his own poem, Eliot finds that often poetry can fall short of explaining the mystery and awe and wonder and heartbreak of life. In the middle of the poem, he writes,
“That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory: A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle With words and meanings.”
And that intolerable wrestle with words and meanings is what brought me back to God. I found that when I couldn’t pray–couldn’t even consider praying–I could wrestle with words. I could write questions and question meanings. I could create meaning and delight in my creation. I could wrestle with poetry and in a way wrestle with God.
I started a journal I titled, “Antsy for Creation.” Because I was. But as I started to write and create and wordplay, I found I was even more antsy for God. For the Creator who stamped his own desire to create on my soul from the very start.
God spoke to me through poetry long before he spoke to me through prayer. And why wouldn’t he? The Bible is filled with poetry, with testaments of ancient, anxious wrestling with words and God and meaning. And God speaking into chaos. God filling and comforting and redeeming withhis words and his meanings.
So whenever I read this poem and these words by Eliot, I am grateful for a God who created me to create and who brings forth his presence into my own “intolerable wrestle with words and meanings”–and makes it a little more tolerable.