Monday, March 9, 2009

"Godric" Speaks

Of the River Wear by which he lived:
     "In the little church I built of wood for Mary, I hollowed out a place for him.  Perkin brings him by the pail and pours him in.  Now that I can hardly walk, I crawl to meet him there.  He takes me in his chilly lap to wash me of my sins.  Or I kneel down beside him till within his depths I see a star.
     Sometimes this star is still.  Sometimes she dances.  She is Mary's star.  Within that little pool of Wear she winks at me.  I wink at her.  The secret that we share I cannot tell in full.  But this much I will tell.  What's lost is nothing to what's found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup."

Of friendship:
     "That's five friends, one for each of Jesu's wounds, and Godric bears their mark still on what's left of him as in their time they all bore his on them.  What's friendship, when all's done, but the giving and taking of wounds? 
     Gentle Jesu, Mary's son, be thine the wounds that heal our wounding.  Press thy bloody scars to ours that thy dear blood may flow i us and cleanse our sin.  Be thou in us and we in thee that Godric, Gillian, Ailred, Mouse and thou may be a woundless one at last.  And even Reginald if thy great mercy reach so far."

Of time and truth:
     "You speak of time, Godric,"Ailred said.  His cough for once was gone.  "Time is a storm.  TImes past and times to come, they heave and flow and leap their bounds like Wear.  Hours are clouds that change their shapes before your eyes.  A dragon fades into a maiden's scarf.  A monkey's grin becomes an angry fist.  But beyond time's storm and clouds, there's timelessness.  Godric, the Lord of Heaven changes not, and even when our view's most dark, he's there above us fair and golden as the sun."  And so it is.
     "God's never gone," my gentle, ailing Ailred said.  "It's only men go blind."

Of their Roman pilgrimage and what they saw:
     "Why did we weep?  I asked myself.  We wept for all that grandeur gone.  We wept for martyrs cruelly slain.  We wept for Christ, who suffered death upon a tree and suffers still to see our suffering.  But more than anything, I think, we wept for us, and so it ever is with tears.  Whatever be their outward cause, within the chancel of the heart it's we ourselves for whom they finally fall.
     We'd tramped so far from home and found so little for our pains.  We'd started forth so full of hope and gaiety who now sat sore of foot among the rubble of those brutish lists.  Still darker yet, we'd come to pray to God for mercy on my father's soul, and lo, save only for those heaps of marble limbs and heads, we found no God in Rome.  If God was there, then like the Pope the eyes he cast on us were blind."       
And of the Wear once more:
     "Here are the sounds of Wear.  It rattles stone on stone.  It sucks its teeth.  It sings.  It hisses like the rain.  It roars.  It laughs.  It claps its hands.  Sometimes I think it prays.  In winter, through the ice, I've seen it moving swift and black as Tune, without a sound.
     Here are the sights of Wear.  It falls in braids.  It parts at rocks and tumbles round them white as down or flashes over them in silver quilts.  It tosses fallen trees like bits of straw yet spins a single leaf as gentle as a maid.  Sometimes it coils for rest in darkling pools and sometimes leaps its banks and shatters in the air.  In autumn I've seen it breathe a mist so thick and grey you'd never know Old Wear was there at all."

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

I loved that last one. It is definitely what pray is and feels like at times. It seems to be a wearing of sorts that I know I've said the same words in another year or for the same person who is usually related to me!!! ( my children)
It's almost a poem.

You make me want to get the book!