The Son of Encouragement
I knew him only briefly, but felt his heart to be wrought from finest gold and marked with rare sincerity. His manner kind and gentle, I have no doubt he brought consolation, strength and faith to those he humbly taught. He’d reached a place of steadfast peace and thus his presence flowed from here to his eternal rest, in love’s divine abode. In memoriam P.H. 1934 - 2020
The truth from above – traditional English carol
Unabridged Lyrics: This is the truth sent from above, The truth of God, the God of love: Therefore don't turn me from your door, But hearken all, both rich and poor. The first thing which I do relate Is that God did man create, The next thing which to you I'll tell, Woman was made with man to dwell. Then, after this, 'twas God's own choice To place them both in Paradise, There to remain, from evil free, Except they ate of such a tree. And they did eat, which was a sin, And thus their ruin did begin. Ruined themselves, both you and me, And all of their posterity. Thus we were heirs to endless woes, Till God the Lord did interpose, And so a promise soon did run, That he would redeem us by his Son. And at this season of the year Our blest Redeemer did appear, And here did live, and here did preach, and many thousands he did teach. Thus he in love to us behaved, To show us how we must be saved; And if you want to know the way, Be pleased to hear what he did say: "Go preach the Gospel," now he said, "To all the nations that are made! And he that does believe on me, From all his sins I'll set him free." O seek! O seek of God above That saving faith that works by love! And, if he's pleased to grant thee this, Thou'rt sure to have eternal bliss. God grant to all within this place True saving faith, that special grace Which to his people doth belong: And thus I close my Christmas song.
Ah, God I May Not Hate – Kathleen Raine
Ah, God, I may not hate Myself, who am your thought, who made Earthworm and spider, gave Being to the burying-beetle and the maggot, Beak and talon and teeth, hunger to all creatures Made to be your begetters and destroyers. I who am living you from the numberless dead have raised From the deathless dust of the grave Dust of gleaming wings borne on the wind, seed In the womb of the wind, borne In cloud and tempest over the world On tide and current made and unmade, I am what you will, what you have willed Life after life, maggot and spider, seed and harvest, chromosome, flame.
No One Lives His Life – Rilke
Disguised since childhood, haphazardly assembled from voices and fears and little pleasures, we come of age as masks. Our true face never speaks. Somewhere there must be storehouses where all these lives are laid away like suits of armour or old carriages or cloths hanging limply on the walls. Maybe all paths lead here, to the repository of unlived things. Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours, Book 2
We Fragmented Few
We fragmented few travel the haunted path to salvation seeking goodness, seeking nearness. All our shuttered eyes can see is the infinite expanse of distance that stretches between here and wholeness. We breathe into the void, each exhalation a call for that feast of light, that place of purity. Waylaid by desire, capsized by fear, we yearn for the absolute freedom of the uncaged image in which we were made. Devon, England, 11th December 2020
A prayer for the poisoned
Forgive my blindness Forgive my deafness Forgive my lies and pretence. Forgive my ignorance Forgive my coldness Forgive my scorn and disdain. Forgive my deceptions Forgive my incompetence Forgive my turning away. Forgive my ugliness Forgive my vanity Forgive my arrogance and blame. Forgive my depravity Forgive my ingratitude Forgive my weakness and guilt. Forgive my squandering Forgive my impatience Forgive my wounding and shame. Forgive my weariness Forgive my misery Forgive my fear and control. Forgive my faithlessness Forgive my doubting Forgive this poor, futile game.
Open to humility
The astonishing spectacle of accelerating polarisations continues to be rich with truthful pickings. There is so much to take in. Some individuals seem to have welded themselves interminably shut. Others are cracking open. There is too much time alone and too little contact with others. There is excessive self-reflection and extravagant distraction. So many opposites within and without. As I negotiate my own delicate balancing act, I have been considering carefully what it means to have an open mind.
Closed mindedness inclines itself towards two expressions:
I don’t want to know
In both of these dismissive variants, the mind serves to keep things safe by keeping things the same. It acts to defend itself from the possibility that real questions will lead to real answers, and that real change will then be required. It ensures that the transformational power of truth is kept at bay.
"Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honour is humility. He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him." Prov 18: 12-13
The closed mind knows nothing but its own false boundaries. It chooses to defend the familiar confines of the fallen self. In doing this, it shuts the door to truth and becomes instead a ‘keeper of dogma’ (thank you NK). It cannot see, nor can it be receptive to reality.
"Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:21
In contrast, the open mind takes the following stance:
I don’t know
I want to know
The open mind is willing to accept that it is wrong. This mind is not ‘made up’, and with grace and patience, it may observe itself. It will inevitably begin to uncover its own brokenness, ignorance and insufficiency. The more it knows, the more it becomes aware of what it doesn’t know. To keep seeking the truth, the mind has to open itself continually into the vulnerability of the unknown. It has to trust that it will be guided.
In choosing a posture of openness, we are led to our own fallibility. We are asked to identify where we really are and how far we have descended. We are asked to acknowledge how great our fall has been. From the lowliness of our true position, unreality empties out of us so that we can be filled with the reality of Spirit. This is the gift of cleansing humility. From here, we may know.
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10