Tag Archives: escape

August 4, Francis Thompson III: THE HOUND OF HEAVEN II.

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THE HOUND OF HEAVEN: II

I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
“Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”

I return to ‘unperturbèd pace, / Deliberate speed’ as an image of God at work which makes sense to one who would be his ‘servitor’. Thompson did like his words!

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August 3, Francis Thompson II: THE HOUND OF HEAVEN I.

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The story of  Francis Thompson’s struggle with his demons which led to drug addiction and homelessness after leaving Ushaw College is perhaps better known than his poetry. Some of it needs much work on the part of a reader not versed in the Classics of Greece and Rome, but not The Hound of Heaven. We invite you to read the whole poem in short extracts.

THE HOUND OF HEAVEN:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes, I sped;
And shot, precipitated
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followéd,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their changèd bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to dawn: Be sudden—to eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover!
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!

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April 4 Station I: Leaving Jerusalem

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Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened [13]

Luke begins with two disciples walking away from Jerusalem. The sudden collapse of their world, of all their hopes and dreams, is just too much to bear. They had been sure that God’s Promised One, the Messiah, had come. Jesus had shown in so many ways that the Power of God was in him, and yet he had been shown to be powerless when ‘the powers of the land’—religious and secular—had taken charge of him, put him on trial as a blasphemer and impostor, and had him crucified as a common criminal. And now he is dead, and disgraced. Their own highest religious authorities had rejected him—in God’s name—and it seems they had been proved right: God had done nothing to save Jesus, to rescue him from death, to prove to the religious authorities that they were in the wrong.

It was too much to bear and they simply had to get away from Jerusalem, put distance between themselves and these terrible memories… and yet they are still talking about it, torn by a whole Babel of feelings—totally confused and close to despair, yet also filled alternately with fear and anger, and of course grief, tinged probably with guilt.

What is this like for us today?

I’m sure we can all remember times when we went through something similar: discouraged, down-hearted, confused, angry, feeling let down by God, by the Church. We just want to get away from it, and put distance between ourselves and the Church or God. But we can’t get it out of our head (or heart), and we keep coming back to it: complaining, blaming, arguing, disagreeing…but still needing to talk, because ‘it won’t go away’.

Perhaps it will help to take stock now of where we find ourselves on ‘the Road to Emmaus’, a road initially ‘away from Jerusalem’ that is actually a searching for ‘the way back to Jerusalem’?

Only when we let ourselves, and each other, know what our hopes had been‘, and how we think we’ve been ‘let down’, will we be able to explore these in the light of ‘what the Gospel is actually calling us to’.

We may well feel that we’ve talked about this ad nauseam, and it’s time to do something about it. But it will be good to hold ourselves in check at this 1st Station, stay in the company of these two disciples and spell out what we are angry or discouraged or confused about.

JMcC

 

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