Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The poet Scott Cairns book Philokalia collects older and more recent poems, including his series of meditations on New Testament Greek words. In the poem below, he takes on the term "metanoia," normally translated as "repentance." I commend it to you for your own Lenten meditations.
Adventures in New Testament Greek:

Repentance, to be sure,
but of a species far
less likely to oblige
sheepish repetition.

Repentance, you'll observe,
glibly bears the bent
of thought revisited,
and mind's familiar stamp

-- a quaint, half-hearted
doubleness that couples
all compunction with a
pledge of recurrent screw-up.

The heart's metanoia,
on the other hand, turns
without regret, turns not
so much away, as toward,

as if the slow pilgrim
has been surprised to find
that sin is not so bad
as it is a waste of time.