Kebra Nagast, A Good Life, and a Luminous Darkness

Welcome to our September newsletter.

This month our library highlights include a fascinating extract from the Kebra Nagast, the foundational scripture of the Ethiopian church and imperial dynasty, originating from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

And Solomon was working at the building of the House of God, and he rose up and went to the right and to the left, and forward and backward. And he showed the workmen the measurement and weight and the space covered… And everything was wrought by his order, and there was none who set himself in opposition to his word; for the light of his heart was like a lamp in the darkness, and his wisdom was as abundant as the sand. And of the speech of the beasts and the birds there was nothing hidden from him, and he forced the devils to obey him by his wisdom.

• We also have an audio recorded talk by Rowan Williams, ‘What Is a “Good Life”?’, about unexamined instincts and the meaning and scope of an individual and human ‘habitat’ and ‘ecology’, to be cared for and cultivated as a garden; and about how we learn to respond to our environment with ‘an inseparable intelligence and charity’.

A good life is not a comfortable life. It is a life which can be honest about its own fragility, because it knows something about where it lives… To look deeply into an understanding of it is to look towards the freedom that attention gives.

• And finally an article by William Wroth, “In That Luminous Darkness”, on the works of Spanish poet Vicente Pascual Rodrigo, including a selection of translations, and a delicate appreciation of the depths of these poems and of ‘metaphysical’ poetry in general.

Love of another causes the individual to step out of the imperious confines of the ego, to die to the natural egocentricity of the little self for the sake of the other.

En tu ausencia
nada encuentro.
Ni aun siquiera la nostalgia,
ni aun siquiera larga espera.

In your absence
I find nothing.
Not even longing,
nor even expectation.