c photo Beth Beck, included with her permssion. Excerpt from Phillip T. Stevens “Poems, Parables and Prayers for the 3rd Millennium” Beck captured the image using pinhole photography.

In the spaces at the nucleus, the spaces at the center —
where matter gives way to mystery,
and laws dance neck to neck with enigma,
where particles reverse charge, protons decay,
and electrons skip, split or fuse
in those empty spaces confined to atoms
and still as wide as the universe,
I wonder if we’ll ever sense a sculptor
shaping gray matter, fusing atoms,
sparking fuel for thought.
Does God jump start my consciousness?
Did he spark a synapse in my right brain to
evoke images, icons and prayer?
Did he fashion the dendrites in my left brain so
I can craft the concepts in this poem?

Do you ever dream of God dancing at the
center of the universe, staff raised, knees high,
shouting, leaping, whirling in a dervish,
drawing the dust of galaxies to himself until
the particles collapse inward upon themselves,
blossoming from star dust to star,
glowing inside with the heat of his breath,
spinning in a dervish of its own,
spinning outward to the spiral arm of a galaxy
where we spiral as well, spinning at
millions of miles an hour, never resting,
dancing God’s dervish every minute of every day
all the while feeling grounded,
still and silent on the surface of this planet,
all the while looking back to God,
dancing at the center of the universe and
waiting for us to dance with him?

When we look inward, contemplate who we are,
do we simply see electrons leaping randomly from
synapse to synapse, or do we see the sculptor as well —
fusing the connections, allowing an image to emerge?
When we look to the stars at night
do we simply see stars flying away from a
center filled with nothingness,
spinning out of control toward nowhere?
Or do we see the dervish in the chaos,
feel ourselves drawn to God’s dance at the
center of his universe as we are drawn
by gravity to the surface of this earth?


Who can fathom the void between electrons?
Who can chart their paths, clock their spin?
Who can bond hydrogen with oxygen to
unleash the waters of life?
We spend billions on super computers and
superconducting super colliders to
deconstruct electrons, but the
electrons themselves elude us.
We use charts and graphs and
metaphors because we’ll never see them
dance from one energy state to the next.
Unable to see the whole,
we dissect the elements as though
enlightenment requires a knife.
Unable to see the canvas they compose,
we fail to grasp the space between atoms,
spaces as solid and impenetrable
as the mind of the God.
God is like the electron.
We can see where he’s been,
see where he’s going,
but we cannot focus on him,
can’t reduce him to an image that
the scientist, poet and believer
can all point to and say,
“Yes, that’s the one. By Jove, that’s God.”
So we speculate on his image,
paint a face in our imaginations and
choose to believe that face is God.
Then we demand that others see God
in the images we create even though
our images have no more substance
than the void between electrons.

© poems, Phillip T. Stephens

These poems were originally published in Phillip T. Stephens. Poems, Parables and Prayers for the 3rd Millennium (Austin, TX: Plain View Press, 2001). 

One thought on “Two Excerpts from “Poems, Parables and Prayers”

  1. Wonderful poem! I love the idea of God as a dervish. 😀 Who is to say that He (or She) isn’t? And, although we each have different ideas of who/what God is and isn’t, the fact that the construct itself won’t go away is something fascinating to consider. Reductive or all-inclusive, the idea itself still remains. Whether one accepts it or tilts against it like Quixote, *it* is still there.

    Liked by 1 person

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