If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.
O my people, what have I done unto thee.
~T.S. Eliot from “Ash Wednesday”
In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls…
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope.
~T.S. Eliot from “East Coker”
On Maundy Thursday, I arrive back to the beginning, six weeks later returning to Eliot:
“the unstilled world whirled/About the centre of the silent Word.”
a day of disquiet and silence,
of Christ taking towel and water to disciples’ dirty feet,
of bread broken and fruit crushed and consumed,
of anguished prayer and the kiss of betrayal,
of stilling the sword,
of watching those He loved run off in fear
and deny they ever knew Him.
In my beginning is my end.
And now the light falls and the darkness begins.
We wait, sorrow-filled, our unstilled souls stilled
by our betrayal, our denial, our hopelessness without Him.
Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen
justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? (Jeremiah 12)
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build — but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou Lord of life, send my roots rain
~Gerard Manley Hopkins “Thou art indeed just, Lord”
As I look out through a tear-streaked window at the beginning of this dark day,
I feel inadequate to the task before me.
Parched and struggling patients will line my schedule in weeks to come;
they are anxious and already weary and barren, seeking something, anything
to ease their distress in a hostile world.
Preferably an easy pill to swallow.
Nothing that hurts going down.
While others thrive around them,
they wilt and wither, wishing to die.
Lord of Life, equip me to find the words to say that might help.
May it be about more than
genetics, neurotransmitters and physiology.
In this dry season for young lives,
send your penetrating rain to reach them
and those who guide them.
Reach down and shake our roots fiercely
to slake our continual thirst.
This land changes you if you let it…
There is no place to hide here
from yourself and what you fear.
The meadowlark will break your heart
the magpie steal your breakfast
and once you’ve seen the buffalo graze on Sage Creek
they will rumble through your dreams forever.
Diane Weddington in Badlands III
It seems hopelessness may be all that thrives in this loneliest of places where wind chews at the rocks. But there is toughness and remarkable color and diversity too. Hope cannot die where the sunrise and sunset create a portrait of paradise for a few brief minutes twice each day.
Yet despite it all grass grows here, in patches and strips, pulling moisture from the thin topsoil veneer.
It is a promise — even the barren can bear fruit.
A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.
~Robert Frost from “Asking for Roses”
Robin Williams spent his lifetime coaxing us to laugh till we cried,
making us cringe and too often wanting to hide from his manic intensity.
He left no flower unplucked and now he has left us weeping again
petals shattered and strewn,
a lingering scent of roses rising.
It is…the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life…
The man who kills a man kills a man.
The man who kills himself kills all men.
As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world.
~ G.K. Chesterton
Suicide rates globally have climbed 60% in the past forty years,
particularly in developed countries.
Based on the distress of the patients I see every day,
the easy contemplation of suicide,
if only a passive “I wish I were dead”,
there will be no slowing of this trend.
…when there is no sense of loyalty to life, as stressful and messy as it can be,
…when there is no honoring of the holiness of the created being,
…when there is no resistance to the buffeting winds of life,
only a toppling over, taking out everything and everyone in the way,
…the world is wiped out, all people killed in one act of self-murder.