(c) Melinda Smith 2011

Shechinah – or God meets Temple Grandin

In Autism Poem on October 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

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 ! ).

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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

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’.

This version of the poem has been revised substantially since it first appeared on my other blog back in September.

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.

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