Winter Spirituality II

Winter Spirituality II

• • •

The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy (1900)

I leant upon a coppice gate,
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to me
The Century’s corpse outleant,
Its crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind its death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead,
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited.
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
With blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew,
And I was unaware.

14 thoughts on “Winter Spirituality II

  1. Hello Chris,
    you wrote, ” How do we account for the horror of it all? ”

    I think we can’t, except to see that the contrasts of good and evil help to clarify what each is even more, and I’m not even sure that is true for all of us. (?) It’s a thoughtful question, yes. A painful question we cannot avoid.

    When I’m overwhelmed by the suffering of the innocent, I meditate in front of the crucifix. Does it help? Well, I just don’t feel we are so alone anymore in this trial. We are not left alone here, no.

    I was once given a glimpse into the kingdom and how it works. . . . I have a son with Down Syndrome who is very ill but he can walk. He is cared for at Eastern Christian Childrens’ Retreat in Wyckoff NJ. One day, while visiting, I saw my son get up and walk to a toy shelf and select a musical toy. Then he carried it over to a stretcher-bound resident and very, very gently, laid it in his hands. The staff told me that my son frequently showed kindness in this way. I can’t begin to tell you what seeing this did for me.

    No, I don’t understand suffering either. But there IS a ‘kingdom’ and we are not far from it, and sometimes by the merciful grace of God we are allowed a glimpse, for a moment, and it is enough. . . . .


  2. The phrase, “the thick darkness where God was” always pops into my head in this context. Mysterious stuff. Very. We don’t generally contend with the issue though it has been discussed numerous times here at Imonk. The mystery of iniquity. The problem of suffering and a silent God. It’s not a rational, linear subject. It is laced with deep feeling, angst and perturbation. I once heard someone say, (paraphrase) “If He kills my sister, I’m going to kill Him.” It was said in all seriousness with full throated venom and rage as the sister underwent liver surgery. How do we account for the horror of it all? How are we righteous, accounted righteous anyway, but spend our lives tainted by sin? Who makes a plan like that? Very odd indeed. Is it actually the plan? Speaking of songs (comments above) I’m writing a song now with the repeating lyric, “You’re a funny one my friend.” The term often refers to genuine funniness which I perceive in this game of life. Other times I’m referring to the “oddness” of it all and He is odd indeed. Heck, he calls us friends, placing us on lofty ground. ‘Nough said.


  3. Thanks Christiane! I got your note. I’m going to record 3 or 4 songs in the summer and will get them to Mike. Started writing again after 30 years and it’s been fun.


  4. It’s the bluejay here that is throwing its cry into the wind; not as melodic as a thrush, but it will do.


  5. Well, we got to 100 degrees celsius today and three more days of extreme heat promised.
    Tell me more about Winter and the snow we sometimes get.
    More about scarves, coats and hats. More about shoveling the paths etc.
    I love cold weather which is why I mostly enjoy living where I do. This is ridiculous.
    Our water storage dam for town water is getting low.
    We are not allowed to water our gardens unless we have our own rainwater tanks, which I have.
    Thousands of fish are dying in our state’s rivers because of drought, algae bloom growth and lack of correct use of water for irrigation. The rivers are a stinking mess. No rain forecast to flush the rivers.
    I love Australia but… we have difficult weather conditions.


  6. thanks to Chaplain Mike for sending Chris S’ song to me through email . . . . it’s beautiful . . . . tried to respond, but not sure it got through to Chris


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