This is a poem about the spiritual journey of Temple Grandin, a famous designer of humane livestock abbatoir technology who also happens to have autism. She writes about the evolution of her faith at length in her book Thinking in Pictures. I have tried here to condense it to poetry – please comment if you think I have failed ( or even if you think I have succeeded ! ).
For structure I have used a quote from Albert Einstein ( a quote which Grandin also cites with approval in her book). If you look carefully you’ll see that each stanza has one word of the quote in it somewhere ( in order, of course – this is an autism poem, after all 🙂 ).
The Hebrew word ‘Shechinah’ in the title means ‘the in-dwelling presence of God’.
I actually wrote this poem back in June, but entered it in a competition so couldn’t publish it (even on my blog) until the results were announced. It didn’t win, but I hope you enjoy it anyway…
Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.
– Albert Einstein
Shechinah – or God meets Temple Grandin
I find Him first in logic: in the science of snowflakes;
in the patterns silver makes on platinum.
Then entropy terrifies me, chaos as telos.
Without order, I worry: where can He dwell ?
Perhaps if He keeps the gate, shepherding each atom
on its path from heat to cold ? In this image I remake my religion.
I discover Him also in libraries: my serene heavens of silence
and infinite shelving. My dearest wish is an afterlife of browsing,
tasting the bliss of the Great System – the halt and the lame reclining
in the silent reading corner; angels bringing them books.
Then: a swim in a dip tank drowns my religion,
organophosphates douse my pillar of flame.
The hangover leaves me without my wonder. I am Dorothy, aching for awe,
raising the Wizard’s curtain, staring at the little old man.
At long last I find Him in science again, not in order but in the mystery
of entangled subatomic particles: their synchronised vibrations
span universes in an instant. He is everywhere at once ! And again, after all my seeking
He comes to me where I am: He is with me in the slaughterhouses,
with me in the daily work of death. He blesses my sacred charge:
to ease each animal, calmly, with love, through the blind valley of the shadow.
(c) Melinda Smith 2011