St. Porphyrios said that to become a Christian one needed first to be a poet. This has nothing to do with arranging words, but everything to do with hearing words. Words, like everything else in our world, hide far more than they reveal. God has so arranged His world that its treasure is reserved for those who seek it. In words, the treasure belongs to those who listen.
Among the many friends I have had who have now entered the larger life, several were poets. They were more than fashioners of words – they were first the hearers of words. Francis Hall Ford was a parishioner in St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Mission in Chattanooga, which I had a small share in founding. She and her family had years before entered Orthodoxy through the Greek Church. In later years she split her time between little St. Tikhon’s in Chattanooga and St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas where her daughter, Katie, now lives. Katie has been kind enough to share some of her mother’s poetry. With her permission I share it here. As for Frances (whom I knew better by her Orthodox name, Kassiane) may her memory be eternal!
May we ourselves hear what the poets hear, and with such sounds echo the treasure of God in our world. A good feast to you.
Her first poem is a Japanese tanka (31 syllables, 5 lines, 5-7-5-7-7).
In mid-June’s muteness
When scarce birdword breaks languor
Flame azaleas speak.
Sudden over path, up hill
Their Pentecost throats give tongue.
The second is a brief meditation.
THE ICON OF PENTECOST
At the Church’s birth,
Licked clean by flames of Spirit
Maid and Apostles in horseshoe
Make sweet maternal crib
In whose dark cave
The World, that Old King,
Waits with a swaddling cloth.
Frances Hall Ford