I read somewhere of a shepherd who, when asked why he made, from within fairy rings, ritual observances to the moon to protect his flocks, replied: ‘I’d be a damn’ fool if I didn’t!’ These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I’d be a damn’ fool if they weren’t.
from Collected Poems, 1934-1952 by Dylan Thomas
And that’s what it came down to for EBB as well. She had her share of doubts and confusions, as we saw in her feelings about Robert’s love for her, but she came to trust him.
Dylan was another complicated character, but not quite a total damn’ fool. Love the words, he said, love the words. Which is how Robert was first attracted to EBB.
Dylan looked out over this seascape from his study in Laugharne.
There were two disciples – Cleopas and another – who were shattered by the things that had happened over Thursday and Friday – it didn’t feel like a Good Friday to them. And now on Sunday there were reports from some of the women they went about with, claiming that Jesus had been seen alive. ‘Let’s get away from here and clear our heads!’ You can just imagine them saying such words.
Some think Cleopas is with his wife Mary: we tend to be led by paintings such as Caravaggio’s, to see both the disciples as men, but we are free to see them as a couple. The lessons of the story do not change.
But clearing their heads was not happening. Everything was windmilling round their minds as they talked but there was no resolution to it all.
The whole idea of resurrection can seem as incredible to us as to Cleopas and Mary. It doesn’t happen, no eloquent sacred celebration can disguise that. But if it were true, what then? How would you live the rest of your life? Cleopas and Mary ran back to join their group, the Body of Christ. Who would you take the good news to, and how would you share it?
As the Lord said to the lawyer, ‘Go and do likewise.’
Do you remember Sister Johanna writing about praying the Psalms, and how the difficult prayers that we do not agree with have a place in our own prayer life? ‘This is not pretty’, we might say, ‘but I need to tell it to someone.’ Here David wants to guard his mouth, but what comes out is the sort of confusion that springs from deep hurt as we have been touching on these last days. But ‘surely in vain is any man disquieted.’ Easier said than felt or acted upon. But saying it is a start.
Psalm 38 (39) A canticle of David.
I said: I will take heed to my ways: that I sin not with my tongue. I have set guard to my mouth, when the sinner stood against me.
I was dumb, and was humbled, and kept silence from good things: and my sorrow was renewed.
My heart grew hot within me: and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.
I spoke with my tongue: O Lord, make me know my end. And what is the number of my days: that I may know what is wanting to me.
Behold thou hast made my days measurable: and my substance is as nothing before thee. And indeed all things are vanity: every man living.
Surely man passeth as an image: yea, and he is disquieted in vain. He storeth up: and he knoweth not for whom he shall gather these things.
And now what is my hope? is it not the Lord? and my substance is with thee.
Deliver thou me from all my iniquities: thou hast made me a reproach to the fool.
I was dumb, and I opened not my mouth, because thou hast done it.
Remove thy scourges from me. The strength of thy hand hath made me faint in rebukes:
Thou hast corrected man for iniquity. And thou hast made his soul to waste away like a spider: surely in vain is any man disquieted.
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication: give ear to my tears. Be not silent: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were.
O forgive me, that I may be refreshed, before I go hence, and be no more.