MISSING GOD, by Dennis O’Driscoll

His grace is no longer called for
Before meals: farmed fish multiply
without His intercession.
Bread production rises through
disease-resistant grains devised
scientifically to mitigate His faults.

Yet, though we rebelled against Him
like adolescents, uplifted to see
an oppressive father banished –
a bearded hermit – to the desert,
we confess to missing Him at times.

Miss Him during the civil wedding
when, at the blossomy altar
of the registrar’s desk, we wait in vain
to be fed a line containing words
like “everlasting” and “divine”.

Miss Him when the TV scientist
explains the cosmos through equations,
leaving our planet to revolve on its axis
aimlessly, a wheel skidding in snow.

Miss Him when the radio catches a snatch
of plainchant from some echoey priory;
when the gospel choir raises its
collective voice
to ask Shall We Gather at the River?
or the forces of the oratorio converge
on I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
and our contracted hearts lose a beat.

Miss Him when a choked voice
at the crematorium recites the poem
about fearing no more the heat of the sun.

Miss Him when we stand in judgement
on a lank Crucifixion in an art museum,
its stripe-like ribs testifying to rank.

Miss Him when the gamma-rays
recorded on the satellite graph
seem arranged into a celestial score,
the music of the spheres,
the Ave Verum Corpus of the observatory lab.

Miss Him when we stumble on the breast lump
for the first time and an involuntary prayer
escapes our lips; when a shadow crosses
our bodies on an x-ray screen; when we receive
a transfusion of foaming blood
sacrificed anonymously to save life.

Miss Him when we call out His name
spontaneously in awe or anger
as a woman in the birth ward bawls
her long-dead mother’s name.

Miss Him when the linen-covered
dining table holds warm bread rolls,
shiny glasses of red wine.

Miss Him when a dove swoops
from the orange grove in a tourist village
just as the monastery bell begins to take its toll.

Miss Him when our journey leads us
under leaves of Gothic tracery, an arch
of overlapping branches that meet
like hands in Michelangelo’s creation.

Miss Him when, trudging past a church,
we catch a residual blast of incense,
a perfume on par with the fresh-baked loaf
which Milosz compared to happiness.

Miss Him when our newly-decorated kitchen
comes in Shaker-style and we order
a matching set of Mother Ann Lee chairs.

Miss Him when we listen to the prophecy
of astronomers that the visible galaxies
will recede as the universe expands.

Miss Him the way an uncoupled glider
riding the evening thermals
misses its tug.

Miss Him, as the lovers shrugging
shoulders outside the cheap hotel
ponder what their next move should be.

Even feel nostalgic, odd days,
for His Second Coming,
like standing in the brick
dome of a dovecote
after the birds have flown.


39 thoughts on “MISSING GOD, by Dennis O’Driscoll

  1. I feel all sad reading that! 😦 I don’t like the thought of us all alone because the expanding universe has taken everything so far away!

    The poem makes the point well that by excluding God from so many things leaves a void…….


    1. I think it’s sad too, that the meaning has been taken out, and only echoes and nostalgia are left. But as I said to Bushka, maybe the ‘faith’ that has been lost was based on nostalgia or duty or something anyway, and that is why it hasn’t survived.


      1. OR….. that the fact there is a loss noted, means a space has been left and so something actual has gone. If you never had it you wouldn’t notice the loss of something that was never there really in the first place? :crazy:

        I’ll get my coat…..


      2. I think that’s right. There are many people for whom this isn’t a reality and therefore they don’t ‘miss’ God. But there are those for whom there is a void inside, either because they used to believe in some way and now don’t, or would like to believe but aren’t sure. As Menhir says, if people miss God then they should seek him, and we believe that they will find him.


  2. It is true that, when my faith waned and seemed to fade to nothing, a void was left behind. It is also true that I have embraced the return of that faith as it blossomed as never before.

    But science and faith need not be mortal enemies …I have proof enough, they coexist in me …and I also know that many good and worthwhile people see our universe as empty of a creator. They would see nothing missing in the things describd above, nor yearn for something deeper and more spiritual …it is as missing from these folk as any musical ability is from me. Who am I to condemn them for simply being who they are?


  3. O’Driscoll seems to do a lot of ‘missing’. He can do something about it for himself, if he wants to that badly.

    With all that ‘missing’, will the O’Driscoll poem be enough to satisfy what he misses?
    If he seeks a parent figure, there are people around who could fulfil his needs.
    He should seek and find. That is what is missing for him.


      1. I would make one observation, and that is that many observers speak in third person to set themselves a little above/apart from the personal emotional aspects which lie within their words.


      2. Yes indeed. I notice that he uses the first person plural. This is ‘poetic licence’ of course, and I can’t be sure that he’s including himself, although he may well feel this sense of nostalgia himself.


      1. Many of the ‘Miss Hims’ beg too many questions…they even seem ‘trite’…..
        I am reminded of Tennyson; ” The Old order changes yielding place to new………Lest one good custom should corrupt the world…” 😉


      2. It seems to me that he is ‘capturing’ a moment in our ‘spiritual history’ – that we are left only with echoes and memories – and maybe that the tide of faith has gone out precisely because that faith was one based on nostalgia and ‘trite’ understandings.


      3. He might well be….I’m not so sure whether life can proceed without ‘faith’…..its nature might change…even mutate….;)x


      4. For me, personally – at my time of life…and after my years of experiencing religious faith…or otherwise…- ‘faith’ has come to mean so much more than ‘relgious faith’ of any particular ‘disposition’…..’Life…That which lives’.. the totality of what constitutes Nature….is central to my undrestanding of ‘faith’….Hope that makes sense….:roll: ;)xx


      5. This sounds like a fascinating discussion. I’m with you in that I don’t think it’s possible to live without some kind of faith, whatever form that may take, whether conscious or unconscious.

        I don’t like this new design I’ve chosen – the comments are too faint! Back to the drawing board … 😉


      6. Agreed…..On both counts…..I find the lettering/colour very dull…almost unreadable…..Methinks it has to do with the background colour….Contrast much too slight….Hugs! :)xx


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