My first semester, I took a Religious Studies course titled, The Spiritual Imagination. This class discussed poetry about spirituality and religion with the main idea that spiritual experience can not be simply expressed, but that forms of expression such as poetry can allow for a closer translation of this experience.
We read multiple poetry collections throughout the semester, however, one poem by Christian Wiman really stuck with me. The poem, titled, “My Bright Abyss” reads:
I think this poem excellently communicates that which can not be communicated. Faith and spirituality is an experience that can not be accurately expressed in words. Language is often insufficient. Much like “truth”, we may try to grasp it, but we can only get closer to it. This is seen in every unit in Humanities this year.
In Unit 1, we struggled to define important terms such as equality and human rights from textual pieces that shaped our government today. Defining a word is a similar struggle to the one that poetry tackles. We try to express an experience in literal and simple language.
In Unit 2, we acknowledged the presence of conceptual schemes and thus, the inability to obtain the “light” as Plato calls the truth.
In Unit 3, we grappled with the mistranslation of suffering and tragedy as documented in journalism and reports, specifically regarding the Rwandan Genocide.
Lastly, this semester, in Unit 4, we discussed the civil rights movement, particularly the attempt to tell the narrative through illustrations in the book, March.
Wiman, Christian. My Bright Abyss. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013.