I don’t remember the circumstances that led to me writing today’s sonnet, which may be a blessing. I do know why I’m sharing it today, though.
This week I read Charles Williams’ The Greater Trumps. Williams writes very metaphysical works about the intrusion of mystical powers on the modern world (think C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy). The Greater Trumps, for example, is about the original Tarot deck, and the characters wind up as stand-ins for the cards. Without going into any more of the plot, though, one character struck me in particular: Sybil, the calm, old maid aunt, who is simultaneously the most important and the least visibly active character. Her secret strength, it turns out, is love: not her own ability to love others, which she found insufficient, but her own ability of stepping back and letting the metaphysical power of Love do the work of loving people through her: “…it had struck her that there was no need for her to try or to enjoy: she had only to be still, and let that recognized Deity itself enjoy, as its omnipotent nature was” (p. 123).
It struck me because in quasi-quarantine, I’ve been feeling the feebleness of my own love: who do I selfishly cling to, who do I avoid, that sort of thing. It would be one thing if I were the only one impacted by my own feebleness, but I know everyone else is struggling too, and my failures could be hurting them. Sybil’s experience struck me as the sort of love I want: not my own love, but the ability to step back from myself and say, Jesus, please love this person and enjoy this person for me. And then I’d just step back and follow the Spirit’s leading.
It’s a lofty goal. It may be an impossible one. This is the story of a character in a work of fiction, after all. And knowing me, I’ll forget about this in two weeks anyway.
But still, my love alone isn’t worth a whole lot. So still, I’d like to try.
But first, before I share the poem, there are three quotes I also want to share. I often write my poems at church, intermixed with my sermon notes. These three quotes are from my pastor, Rick Bourque:
- “There is a kind of rest we can experience even when we are not at rest.”
- “Everything that’s not anchored down eventually gets blown away.”
- “As belief dawns, it weaves our little actions into the Grand Drama.”
Yes, Lord. Please do.
Originally written 12/17/17
O Lord, my feeble love is coarse and mean.
It grates and injures when it’s meant to heal.
I try to claim I live a life of zeal,
But all my actions, unveiled, are obscene.
Like muddy ground or dirty chamber pots,
My life feels like a stench to God on High.
No matter all my work, how hard I try,
All my good deeds are stained by evil thoughts
And selfish clinging to the foolish things—
My time, my inexpensive little toys—
Things that I turn to for my hope and joy
Instead of turning to my God and King.
Lord, let me not be held in this worlds’ thrall,
But help me gladly sacrifice it all.