Friday, November 25, 2011
I thank you, Lord, for fruitful fields,
for wide and healthful skies,
and for the fact not everyone
who is out at war will die;
and for the limits you have placed
on corruption and despite,
that we need only deal with them
a dozen times each night.
I thank you, Lord, for cheerful suns
that rise at every dawn,
and that my students learn to hide
the sound and sight of yawn,
that education is a joy,
filled with love and awe,
and, on those crazy grading days,
that there are murder laws.
I thank you that we live here free
in houses without bars,
that there are things that we can own,
that no one owns the stars,
that joy and virtue freely flow
without a market price
while we have markets fully full
of grain and fruit and spice.
I thank you, Lord, for politics,
for presidents and such,
that they work so hard to get their way,
that they never get it much,
who teach us that the foolish thirst
to rule and reign on high
dishonor brings upon our hearts
when to ourselves we lie.
Thank you, Lord, for infant smiles
and children bright at play,
for all the crabbed and silly souls
who annoy us every day.
(We appreciate those most, O Holy Lord,
those crosses that we bear,
and we thank you that we are not bald
from pulling out our hair.)
Thank you, Lord, for mirrors,
for when I most despise
the follies of my fellow man,
I look, and see pride's lies.
And thank you, God, for mysteries
you have left for us to solve
upon this strangely floating ball
that rotates and revolves.
Thank you for your mercy,
which saves us from the brink;
and thank you, Lord, for righteous wrath,
we need it more, I think.
Thank you for all gentle souls
who can their tempers keep;
protect them, Lord, from the rest of us,
lest we kill them in their sleep.
And for all the blissful marriages!
There are three of them, at least,
and given how hard the whole thing is,
that's quite an abundant feast.
And for all the others as well, my Lord;
they stall and sputter and spin
like well-loved cars that barely move,
they're so nicely broken-in.
And also for the ones that fail,
as they might have been worth the try
if they had words that told it straight,
and laughs, and gentle sighs,
and that they in their saddest loss
yet stand as vivid sign
that the commitment is to person there,
not a signature on a line.
Thank you, Lord, for critics
who attack with whip and flail,
and for reviewers and polemicists,
and, because of them, for hell.
And thank you, Lord, for stupid folk,
that we can clearly see
all the things that shock the mind
from which none of us are free.
And thank you for those shocking times
when pedants who lecture all
on every foolish folly
into those follies fall,
for it teaches us the wisdom
of gentleness and restraint,
lest we in turn be painted
with the brush by which we paint.
Thank you for absurdities;
they overflow the bank,
so if I but thank you for each one,
I'll never cease to thank.
And thank you for sweet irony;
it gives the wit to see
that all the things we moan about
may be thanksgiving's seed.
But most of all, I thank you, Lord,
that long before we die,
we can see ourselves with wry regard,
and laugh until we cry.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Softly, so casual,
Lovely, so light, so light,
The cruel sky lets fall
Something one does not fight.
How tenderly to crown
The brutal year
The clouds send something down
That one need not fear.
Men before perishing
See with unwounded eye
For once a gentle thing
Fall from the sky.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not envy those who do evil:
for they wither quickly like grass
and fade like the green of the fields.
If you trust in the Lord and do good,
then you will live in the land and be secure.
If you find your delight in the Lord,
he will grant your heart’s desire.
Commit your life to the Lord,
trust in him and he will act,
so that your justice breaks forth like the light,
your cause like the noon-day sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait in patience;
do not fret at the man who prospers;
a man who makes evil plots
to bring down the needy and the poor.
Calm your anger and forget your rage;
do not fret, it only leads to evil.
For those who do evil shall perish;
the patient shall inherit the land.
A little longer–and the wicked shall have gone.
Look at his place, he is not there.
But the humble shall own the land
and enjoy the fullness of peace.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
- When I survey the wondrous crossOn which the Prince of glory died,My richest gain I count but loss,And pour contempt on all my pride.
- Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,Save in the death of Christ my God!All the vain things that charm me most,I sacrifice them to His blood.
- See from His head, His hands, His feet,Sorrow and love flow mingled down!Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
- Were the whole realm of nature mine,That were a present far too small;Love so amazing, so divine,Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I was a king," said the little figure, "a great king, and I was lustful
and proud and cruel. I made wars, I devastated countries, I built palaces,
and the mortar was the blood of men. Hear, O God, the witnesses against
me, calling to you for vengeance. Hundreds and thousands of witnesses." He
waved his hands towards us. "And worse! I took a prophet--one of your
"One of my prophets," said the Lord God.
"And because he would not bow to me, I tortured him for four days and
nights, and in the end he died. I did more, O God, I blasphemed. I robbed
you of your honours----"
"Robbed me of my honours," said the Lord God.
"I caused myself to be worshipped in your stead. No evil was there but I
practised it; no cruelty wherewith I did not stain my soul. And at last
you smote me, O God!"
God raised his eyebrows slightly.
"And I was slain in battle. And so I stand before you, meet for your
nethermost Hell! Out of your greatness daring no lies, daring no pleas,
but telling the truth of my iniquities before all mankind."
He ceased. His face I saw distinctly, and it seemed to me white and
terrible and proud and strangely noble. I thought of Milton's Satan.
34. As kingfishers catch fire
Monday, November 14, 2011
I'm barely familiar with Lawrence, but this poem reminds me of falling in love when I was 16.And because he was Todd, the story has a happy continuance.
Letter from Town: The Almond Tree
You promised to send me some violets. Did you forget?
White ones and blue ones from under the orchard hedge?
Sweet dark purple, and white ones mixed for a pledge
Of our early love that hardly has opened yet.
Here there’s an almond tree—you have never seen
Such a one in the north—it flowers on the street, and I stand
Every day by the fence to look up for the flowers that expand
At rest in the blue, and wonder at what they mean.
Under the almond tree, the happy lands
Provence, Japan, and Italy repose,
And passing feet are chatter and clapping of those
Who play around us, country girls clapping their hands.
You, my love, the foremost, in a flowered gown,
All your unbearable tenderness, you with the laughter
Startled upon your eyes now so wide with hereafter,
You with loose hands of abandonment hanging down.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
The stripped and shapely
The ghosts of her
The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain
~John Updike, A Child's Calendar
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
St. Padre Pio became one of my very dearest friends last year--he battled for me when I was too exhausted or depressed to even pray. If you buy me a coffee, I'll tell you the whole story.