"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

29 March 2008

"Thanks, Robert Frost"

Thanks to my dear friend Pamela, who yesterday handed me a copy of a poem by David Ray which gives a lovely and needed perspective on hope.

Thanks, Robert Frost

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought . . .
The future, yes, and even for the past,
that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope,
will recall as not too heavy the tug
of those albatrosses I sadly placed 
upon their tender necks.  Hope for the past,
yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage, 
and it brings strange peace that itself passes
into past, easier to bear because
you said it, rather casually, as snow
went on falling in Vermont years ago.

25 March 2008

Hoping for Hope

Somewhere the other day I saw a rainbow of light reflected wanly from some unknown source onto a bleak off-white wall. I stared at it a long time, unthinking.

When I got home, I told K. I want to find some clear faceted balls like the ones in Mom's kitchen window. I want to see prisms of light brilliant against the walls of our home. I want to see her in the light she so loved.

I miss her. And I fear the deeper aches to come. On days like this, hope is merely a word; the future is too far away to comprehend. Yet one can always hope for hope.

13 March 2008

Reading Merton Again

From Thomas Merton's The Inner Experience:

But the exterior "I," the "I" of projects, of temporal finalities, the "I" that manipulates objects in order to take possession of them, is alien from the hidden, interior "I" who has no projects and seeks to accomplish nothing, even contemplation. He seeks only to be, and to move (for he is dynamic) according to the secret laws of Being itself and according to the promptings of a Superior Freedom (that is, of God), rather than to plan and to achieve according to his own desires.

04 March 2008

"Oh, Taste and See . . ."

You wouldn't often know, to watch my daily irritations, that I love and trust God the Father, through Jesus the Son, by means of the Holy Spirit. But He keeps showing me His love in kindnesses that startle and amaze and humble me . . .

I'm used to waking up at odd hours of the morning with words on my mind: usually something like "I'm soooooo weary . . ." or, all too often, "I wish I could just die."

On a recent morning, however, I woke at some odd hour with the words "I love You, Father" on my mind.

I was so startled I withdrew them -- oh, I don't really love God; I'm so far from loving God; where did that come from!

I fell back asleep for awhile, bemused, and a bit annoyed with myself for rejecting a gift I'd never before received -- the love that Jesus had given me, the love that Jesus had made me, welling up to my conscious mind upon waking from a deep sleep.

When I woke again, a half-hour or so before the alarm was set to go off, the same words were there: "I love You, Father."

And all the time I was preparing for the day and driving to campus -- a sense -- an actual sense -- of gratitude, of longing, of delight. I prayed in thankfulness, I prayed what I desired without rancor or desperation, I prayed my felt love. This I have not experienced for years; I can only barely remember this sense of God's presence from my college years.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good . . ." I see it much of the time, whenever and wherever I'm willing to look, and rejoice in it. But tasting it? Oh, so few times!

Where do words on the mind come from when one wakes? I wasn't thinking about my love for God when I fell asleep -- as I recall, I was screaming, silently but madly, at my brain to shut up and leave me alone, stop keeping me awake with a litany of the multitude of urgent tasks awaiting me, or those pathetic, pounding notes of "music" that usually presage a depressive episode.

So where do such words come from? Many times over the years, I've been startled by someone's thanking me for being an encouragement, because I'd smiled, or done some small service, or said some salient word, when I knew I'd been in the worst of moods, deep in depression, mired in myself. And yet . . . they saw, not me, but Christ in me.

And perhaps I begin to see: Christ dwells in me, and somehow my deepest desire, instilled in me because it is His deepest (only) desire and I am in Him, is, truly, to serve the Father.

Polycarp, in his old age, was told to deny Christ or die. He said that he would no longer be Polycarp if he were to deny Christ: because he was in Christ, because his identity was Christ, for Polycarp to deny Christ would be for Christ to deny Christ -- an impossibility.

And so, even when the flesh or circumstances or depression gets in the way, He is still in me desiring to serve the Father -- and fairly often, it seems, He does so quite apart from whether I'm thinking about it, or willing it, or getting myself out of the way, or doing whatever latest thing we've been told to do so that He can work in us.

And this morning, He said in me, because it's true for me because I am in Him, "I love You, Father" -- and I tasted, for a short time, His goodness, with my heart and soul, and not with my mind and strength only.

Oh . . .! Christ in me; I in Him . . . "Let naught be all else to me save that Thou art . . ." -- may I know it every moment whether I taste it or no . . .

Again, and again, and again . . .

Weariness, physical and emotional, a mild but steadily worsening depression . . . thus all night and morning the tormenting repetition of words, phrases, bars of musical notes, like a sledgehammer on the frantic and exhausted mind. Then backing the car out of the garage into yet another driving rain and the windshield wipers pounding, cha-chunk, cha-chunk, cha-chunk, all the way to campus; trying to keep from screaming aloud the constant refrain to it all, just shut up already. These are the days that only the will carries one through -- the will to believe that Truth exists and His will does the carrying despite all apparent evidence to the contrary.