Thursday, March 02, 2017

Finding a way through the wilderness - a basic premise for the coming season

So – back in January I made the usual heap of resolutions about returning to more regular blogging.

And then life happened, as it always tends to do, and like so many other good intentions, the urge to blog evaporated, leaving only a faint miasma of guilt behind. Except, of course, that isn’t entirely true.  I love writing, and find that I make more sense of my life, notice the good bits, disentangle the less-good, better when I write about it. And as an extrovert, blogging brings the added benefit of a potential response from someone, somewhere… So I know I’m rather the poorer when I don’t find time to write at all.
Cue Lent – that golden opportunity to pick up once again the splendid resolutions that had vanished without trace.  As usual I’ve struggled with the process of choosing a discipline that I have a hope of sticking to (ENFPs are so very easily distracted), of not attempting to fix everything that I perceive to be wrong in my life by an utterly unrealistic raft of projects to “build a better Kathryn” which leave me exhausted by the end of Ash Wednesday. But it’s possible that I might have had an idea…

Long long ago I started a PhD on the poetry of George Herbert, - focussing on his use of music as metaphor for our relationship with God. The funding ran out very rapidly, so I never got beyond extending the work of my undergraduate dissertation, but the delight in his work remains.  “Who better to help me write something each day of Lent?”  I thought – so that is what I plan to try. I’m still ENFP so there may well be diversions along the way, but my aspiration is to work with lines from Herbert’s poems as I try once again to re-orientate myself, and return to “the God who will swiftly pardon”.
I started yesterday, Ash Wednesday, as I preached with his poem "Lent" - and I'll stay there for the next few here it is in full, as your starter for the season. More on the poem later...
WElcome deare feast of Lent: who loves not thee,
He loves not Temperance, or Authoritie,
                       But is compos'd of passion.
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church sayes, now:
Give to thy Mother, what thou wouldst allow 
                       To ev'ry Corporation.

The humble soul compos'd of love and fear
Begins at home, and layes the burden there,
                       When doctrines disagree.
He sayes, in things which use hath justly got,
I am a scandall to the Church, and not 
                       The Church is so to me.
True Christians should be glad of an occasion
To use their temperance, seeking no evasion,
                       When good is seasonable;
Unlesse Authoritie, which should increase
The obligation in us, make it lesse,
                       And Power it self disable.

Besides the cleannesse of sweet abstinence,
Quick thoughts and motions at a small expense,
                       A face not fearing light:
Whereas in fulnesse there are sluttish1 fumes,
Sowre exhalations, and dishonest rheumes,2
                       Revenging the delight.

Then those same pendant profits, which the spring
And Easter intimate, enlarge the thing,
                       And goodnesse of the deed.
Neither ought other mens abuse of Lent
Spoil the good use; lest by that argument
                       We forfeit all our Creed.

It 's true, we cannot reach Christ's fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
                       Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior's purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev'n as he.
                       In both let 's do our best.

Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
                       That travelleth by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
                       May strengthen my decays.

Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sin and taking such repast
                       As may our faults control:
That ev'ry man may revel at his door,
Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,
                       And among those his soul.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to see you back. As you know I'm trying to restart my blogging habit, and the reading of others, which seems a worthy discipline (and a form of time travel, back to blogging heyday!)