Sorting by

Skip to main content

for Carl Schalk

The composer’s vision lacks centers, he says,
The music he writes must fit into his peripheries.
Even so, God’s glory dazzles the scores like an ocean’s
Pageantry of light. What he cannot see, he hears,
And now in the back seat of my car as we travel
To churches of his early ministry, find organs
He once played and choir lofts filled with ghosts
Of voices he schooled, he quotes Milton:
“When I consider how my light is spent.”

He has its music already in his head.
We cannot fix our gaze and see it all through close
Scrutiny in full light. We must catch it in a sideways
Glance, tilt into it, and snatch it at an angle.
Otherwise we are blind to it, too dazed by this world
To take it in. We work with these few images
And music heard only by those whose vision
Is too dim to see. God’s glory is rampant and stretches
Us to heaven. Our reach is short. Our toes grip earth. 
But we have glimpsed reality and heard its music.

Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

Jill Peláez Baumgaertner is Professor Emerita of English and former Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College. She also serves as poetry editor of the Christian Century.