When you saw this issue’s cover—Hanna Cheriyan Varghese’s “Calming the Storm”—did you see yourself? Nearly hurled over gunwale? Despairing at helm or hem? Thrashing paddle in rage, the one futile action possible? After all, what is “little faith” to an insurmountable force?
If you are like me, you tend to palpate your absence of faith. But faith is not the point, is it? When Jesus chides the disciples for “little faith,” he is not suggesting that they seek more of it. Faith as an end always fails, hyperventilating on a single breath of air in the attempt to make more of it. Forget about exploring the depths, heights, and curiosities of reality in such a spiritual condition. No, Jesus wanted them to behold.
Faith is only as great as its sight, its summoner. Our problem is that of the bat, wrongly called blind; bats have excellent vision, but they dwell in the dark and must rely on a greater sense. “They who had walked / in his sunlit presence, / they could have ripened, / could have perceived His hunger and thirst,” Denise Levertov wrote in What the Figtree Said. If they could fail in that blessed heat, then what are we to expect “late / in a harsh year” (as our first poem wonders)? To make a verb a noun, we lack envision.
By it, we perceive God’s real but hidden presence. “To praise Him in His absence and His presence. His absence is only the scales on our eyes,” Anna Kamienska said, though her inclination to doubt was as flint-like as any modern’s. How do we know hope isn’t a delusion? We see as the bat sees, know as the bat knows—really but by invisible means. Of course, it can’t be proven. And some will still call it thunder.
Art envisions. I hope that what we have collected in this issue will draw you—directly, accidentally, or consequently—toward something more than manifold darkness would have you see. Although that is not the purpose of the art here or anywhere else, grace is no stranger to subterfuge.
—Josiah A.R. Cox, Managing Editor
Laura Reece Hogan
Kameryn Alexa Carter
Holly Huff|winner of the 2019 Fredrick Buechner prize
Special thanks to Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music for making this publication possible.
Read more about LETTERS here.