“The Areopagite” by Bruce Smith

Posted on March 31, 2024 
Filed under Resources

The Areopagite

I’m restless
and have been ever since
that itinerant preacher
spoke his lines
on Mars Hill.
He campaigned on God
and righteousness
and capped it all
with talk of resurrection.
At the time
we mostly laughed
and dismissed him
as a fool,
but his words had power
and I’ve not been able
to forget them.

Dionysius says he’s glad
the preacher came;
it’s changed his life, he says.
I can believe it,
it’s changed mine, too.
Resurrection from the dead,
like he spoke of,
in Jerusalem or Athens or anywhere,
must change everything.
I can certainly vouch for Dionysius
and Damaris, too, for that matter
(and there are others);
they are different
since the preacher came,
markedly different.

We’ve never been able
to make sense of dying.
It’s the one experience
we don’t handle well
and everything else
is affected by it.
We philosophise and protest
and try our religions,
but we make no progress.
We have nothing to go on,
nothing or no one we can point to
and say “There, beyond all doubt,
is the answer –
that’s what life’s about.”
But that’s exactly what the preacher offered –
he gave us an event, a happening,
something we could put our hands on,
and we just laughed at him.

Yet they call us
Neophiliacs – lovers of novelty!
It’s not true.
We only love what’s new
if it doesn’t threaten
too much change,
at least that’s my problem.
Dionysius says we are the fools,
not the preacher.
He’s probably right.

The Areopagite, by the Rev. Bruce Smith. © 1984, from his collection of poems “I’ll Not Pretend”. Used with the kind permission of Bruce’s family.
Photo: Ramon Williams, Worldwide Photos.

A refection, of course, on Acts 17:16-34.