Life’s honouring deeds we start and do not do – I know, I know that these are counted too. The flowers that do not come to flower but drop to earth and lose their power, the rivers that run dry in desert, never to renew, I know, I know that these are counted too.
Today’s intentions that are not seen through, I know, I know that these are not untrue. All my deeds so long delayed, all the tunes I have not played sound out on your bina’s strings, all performed by you. I know, I know that these are counted too.
Sometimes peace in our human hearts can seem elusive. We can so easily be knocked off balance, experiencing discouragement and distress in our inner being.
The psalmist expresses this in Psalms 42 and 43. These are two psalms which in many Hebrew manuscripts form one psalm, and when you read them together you can see why. Separated by number, but not by obvious thematic connection and narrative flow.
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king- dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
I am the great sun, but you do not see me, I am your husband, but you turn away. I am the captive, but you do not free me, I am the captain but you will not obey. I am the truth, but you will not believe me, I am the city where you will not stay. I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me, I am that God to whom you will not pray. I am your counsel, but you will not hear me, I am your lover whom you will betray. I am the victor, but you do not cheer me, I am the holy dove whom you will slay. I am your life, but if you will not name me, Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me.
Charles Causley (24 August 1917 – 4 November 2003) was a Cornish poet, schoolmaster and writer. His work is noted for its simplicity and directness and for its associations with folklore, especially when linked to his native Cornwall.
Look how the pale queen of the silent night Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her, And he, as long as she is in his sight, With her full tide is ready her to honour. But when the silver wagon of the moon Is mounted up so high he cannot follow, The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan, And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow. So you that are the sovereign of my heart Have all my joys attending on your will; My joys low ebbing when you do depart, When you return their tide my heart doth fill. So as you come and as you do depart, Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.
It is not growing like a tree In bulk, doth make man better be; Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere: A lily of a day Is fairer far in May, Although it fall and die that night; It was the plant and flower of light. In small proportions we just beauties see; And in short measures, life may perfect be.