She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellowed to that tender light Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less, Had half impaired the nameless grace Which waves in every raven tress, Or softly lightens o’er her face; Where thoughts serenely sweet express, How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent!
That you were once unkind, befriends me now, And for that sorrow, which I then did feel Needs must I under my transgression bow, Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel. For if you were by my unkindness shaken, As I by yours, y’ have pass’d a hell of time, And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken To weigh how once I suffer’d in your crime. O, that our night of woe might have remember’d My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits, And soon to you, as you to me, then tendered The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits! But that your trespass now becomes a fee; Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”John 20:22 (for the context of the whole chapter click here).
Just as air is vital for our physical survival, so the regular breath of God is essential for our spiritual health. We readily understand the physical world, but the concept of the spiritual realm can be less easy to grasp. Indeed, the idea of spirituality is frequently mentioned, but often not defined, and its very nature makes it somewhat nebulous.
In the Bible, the word for ‘spirit’ and the words for wind and breath are closely linked. John portrays the Risen Christ breathing on his disciples his life giving breath, the very energy of his being in an act of new creation.
This life giving energy of the Spirit transforms men and women, shaping them to share God’s radiance and Christ’s saving love. It’s an energy that binds his people together, summed up in the Greek word koinonia, which we can translate as communion and fellowship.
The Holy Spirit at Pentecost recreates us in the image of the God of love, and enables us to live in Christian fellowship. This is the heart of Christian spirituality, not a vague and spongy otherworldliness. The transforming grace of the Holy Spirit also creates a passion in individual lives and collective fellowships for the welfare of others and a deep longing for God.
Pentecostal spirituality is about human lives being shaped by the life of Jesus Christ, with people finding their meaning and identity in the pattern of his self giving love. This Christian spirituality is not an escape from the world, but living in the real world, a world that can be transformed by God’s grace.
Let me share some words and poetry by Harry Read:
We had not long been appointed as Territorial Commanders to the Australia Eastern Territory, when we met the wise, gracious and widely experienced Colonel and Mrs Colonel George Carpenter, the son and daughter-in-law of the late General and Mrs General George L. Carpenter.
In the course of a thoroughly enjoyable exchange of experiences, Colonel George’s wise words to the fledgling Territorial Commanders were: “You don’t have to work harder, just hoist your sails higher to catch the ‘Wind of the Spirit’.”
With sound of rushing wind the Spirit came, His very nature full of mystery. The ‘Wind of God’, His Word reveals His name, The cleansing, stirring wind of liberty.
Like Trade Winds He maintains His course with ease; An evidence, and means of massive power At times unscheduled, like a wayward breeze Caressing life and bloom on tree and flower.
“Great Wind of God, refresh our stagnant world, Bring life to every heart and mind and soul. Direct our ways as we, with sails unfurled Ourselves abandon, to Thy strong control.”
We need not strive a meagre goal to gain – We hoist the sails and He will take the strain.
…suddenly there came from the sky a noise like that of a strong driving wind… Acts 2:1-3 (New English Bible)
Language of the Soul, Harry Read’s latest book of prayer poetry is available in every country in paperback or Kindle.
I’ve started reading the book So This is Permanence, an anthology of the intensely personal writings of one of the most enigmatic and influential songwriters and performers of the second half of the twentieth century.
The image is of his original notes for the opening song, with the lyrics below.
I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man? These sensations barely interest me for another day I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away
It’s getting faster, moving faster now, it’s getting out of hand On the tenth floor, down the back stairs, it’s a no man’s land Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow
What means to you, what means to me, and we will meet again I’m watching you, I’m watching her, I’ll take no pity from your friends Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling.
Those that much covet are with gain so fond That what they have not, that which they possess They scatter and unloose it from their bond, And so, by hoping more, they have but less, Or, gaining more, the profit of excess Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain That they prove bankrout in this poor-rich gain.
The aim of all is but to nurse the life With honour, wealth, and ease in waning age; And in this aim there is such thwarting strife That one for all or all for one we gage: As life for honour in fell battle’s rage, Honour for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost The death of all, and all together lost.
So that, in vent’ring ill, we leave to be The things we are for that which we expect; And this ambitious foul infirmity, In having much, torments us with defect Of that we have. So then we do neglect The thing we have and, all for want of wit, Make something nothing by augmenting it.