US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Read: Reading God's Handwriting: Poems

By Marjorie Maddox | Print this pagePrint |
By Philip Kolin (Kauffman Publishing, 2012)

Philip Kolin’s Reading God’s Handwriting: Poems is a book of action, not of superheroes swooping down on comic book pages to save the day, but of a real God purposefully scribing his truth through scripture, nature, and our lives. In turn, God’s handwriting or, as Kolin portrays it, “God’s hand, writing,” calls us to action through lectio divina, the vigorous spiritual ritual of communing with the living word by reading, contemplating, and acting on the sacred words of scripture.

To Kolin, “Be still and know that I am God” is a call to energetic contemplation. In each section the insightful, accessible poems spur kneeling and doing. In Oremus (the invitation to prayer), “the calligraphy/Of creation and apocalypse [is] both/Light and wounds/The one in the other when/The Word enters in silence. . . . adjectives/Seeking the only noun that counts.”

Kolin brings us face to face with the epiphanies and human cries of such prophets and saints as Habakkuk, Job, Ezekiel, Joseph, and Anne. With them, we “feel [God’s] voice/Cleaving cloud and sky,” our “skin sinks in sackcloth,” and we “[w]alk west in the wind and let/astonishment speak.” He immerses us in Mary’s soulful meditations and in focused reflections on holiness, nature, and faith, the last of which Kolin deems “the love affair/between your soul and God’s will.” Throughout he demonstrates how the Almighty’s handwriting begins in scripture, steals between lines, and marches past margins to redeem all our empty spaces.

We live in a “world of soiled rain,” fallen heroes, and tragic victims. Too often, it seems, “our tears turn to dust.” Reading God’s Handwriting stands as both petition and encouragement. It also calls us to live the word through God’s words, to firmly grasp “the sword of the spirit.” And, ultimately, isn’t this our best defense?

This article appeared in the October 2012 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 77, No. 10, page 51).