Poem | Elan Vital

(Sam May/Flickr)

Know that limits are for leaping;
are but theorems,
lines and brackets drawn
imposingly but bare
around the past of when and where,
and do not touch,
with their severe necessity
the greenspot where your life dwells.

There are laws for low and high,
for water and for dry,
none of which apply
when Purple Martins sweep the water with their wings,
rise with wet and evening meat,
and fly.

And know that we,
beyond our tight entelechy,
are something more:
are, yes, God’s spoor.

Published in the May 2021 issue: 
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Luke Timothy Johnson is emeritus Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and a frequent Commonweal contributor. His many books include Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity (Yale) and Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church (Eerdmans). This is his last Religion Booknotes column.

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