Saturday, March 03, 2018

Spirate in

Sometimes the ghost eludes who helps to write some thought to serve and bring you close.  When mind’s eye fails to fall upon a subject suitable within the week’s short course, I look to someone, something already full inspired: to art.  So here, that you may catch a breath, two poems for these forty days, the bright Spirit’s flash in words to aid your flight.
Monsignor Smith

To Keep a True Lent (1648 ) by ROBERT HERRICK
Is this a Fast, to keep
The Larder lean?
And clean
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh,
1 yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d go,
Or show
A down-cast look and sour?
No: ’tis a Fast to dole Thy sheaf of wheat And meat
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife And old debate,
And hate;
To circumcise thy life.
2
To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin;
3
And that’s to keep thy Lent.


Via Negativa (1972) by R. S. THOMAS
Why no! I never thought other than
That God is that great absence
In our lives, the empty silence
Within, the place where we go
Seeking, not in hope to
Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices
In our knowledge, the darkness
Between stars. His are the echoes
We follow, the footprints he has just
Left. We put our hands in
His side hoping to find
It warm.
1 We look at people
And places as though he had looked
At them, too; but miss the reflection.


1 A reference to the disciple Thomas, who was absent on Jesus’s first post-resurrection appearance and thus found it difficult to believe that he was actually beholding the risen Christ until he put his hands in Jesus’s wounded side (John 20:24-29).

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