I sing the hymn of the conquered, who fell in the Battle of Life,—
The hymn of the wounded, the beaten, who died overwhelmed in the strife….
The hymn of the low and the humble, the weary, the broken in heart,
Who strove and who failed, acting bravely a silent and desperate part.
The death of a beloved is an amputation. ~C.S. Lewis~
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear ~C.S. Lewis~
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me. ~C.S. Lewis~
In our religion, once the fortieth day has passed after the death of a loved one, it is no longer necessary to think of them all the time. More than that, it is no longer proper for you to do so, because it means that you’re holding onto them. You have to release people. If God wants to take them away, then that is the road they must go down, and it is wrong for you to interfere. ~Ekaterina Gordeeva~ from the book My Sergei.
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, – act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~
Thinking outside the box…a thought to ponder…
Do You Believe in Life After Delivery?
In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
The other replies, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense,” says the other, “There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?”
“I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.”
The other says, “This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short.”
“I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here.”
The other replies, “No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” says the other, “but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us.”
“Mother?? You believe in mother? Where is she now?”
“She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world.”
“I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.”
To which the other replied, “sometimes when you’re in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her. I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality.”
An old Scottish poem. I have translated it into English which of course loses the rhyming stanza…
Auld Daddy Darkness creeps frae his hole,
Black as a blackamoor, blin’ as a mole;
Stir the fire till it lowes, let the bairnie sit,
Auld Daddy Darkness is no’ wantit yet.
See him in the corners hidin’ frae the licht,
See him a the window gloomin’ a the nicht;
Turn up the gas licht, close the shutters a’
An’ Auld Daddy Darkness will flee far awa’.
Awa’ to hide the birdie within its cosy nest,
Awa’ to hap the wee flooers on their mither’s breast
Awa’ to loosen gaffer toil frae his daily ca’
For Auld Daddy Darkness is kindly to a’.
He comes when we’re weary to wean’s frae oor waes,
He comes when the bairnies are getting’ aff their claes,
To cover them sae cosy, an’ bring bonnie dreams,
So Auld Daddy Darkness is better than he seems.
Shut yer een, my wee tot, ye’ll see Daddy then;
He’s below the bed claes, to cuddle ye he’s fain.
Noo nestle in his bosie, sleep an’ dream yer fill,
Till wee Davie Daylight comes keekin’ owire the hill.
Old Daddy Darkness creeps from his hole,
Black as a dark skinned African, blind as a mole;
Stir the fire till it blazes, let the children sit,
Old Daddy Darkness is not wanted yet.
See him in the corners hiding from the light,
See him at the window frowning at the night;
Turn up the gas light, close all the shutters
And Old Daddy Darkness will flee far away.
Away to hide the bird within its cosy nest,
Away to cover the wee flowers on their mother’s breast
Away to free grandfather’s toil from his daily chores
For Old Daddy Darkness is kind to all.
He comes when we’re weary to free us from our sorrows,
He comes when the children are taking off their clothes,
To cover them cozy and bring them happy dreams,
So Old Daddy Darkness is better than he seems.
Shut your eyes, my little child, you’ll see Daddy then;
He’s below the bed sheets, to cuddle you lovingly.
Now nestle in his bosom, sleep and dream as much as you like,
Till wee Davie Daylight comes peeking over the hill.
Well that’s the way, isn’t it? That’s the thing about blessings and curses how they kind of go together. If you spend a lot of time obsessing about something sometimes the obsession becomes more vital than the actual fact that you wanted it. Gavin Rossdale, In Rolling Stone Talking About The Lyric “Be Sure What You Dream Of Won’t Come To Hunt You Out.”
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
~Naomi Shihab Nye~
I just finished reading Philomena. Such a sad heartbreaking story. A life inexorably linked to those first few years. We really have no idea how our actions, regardless of who we are, affect our children…
It’s we who, with our exclusion and rejecting, push our brothers and sisters to find refuge in alcohol and become drunks. They drink to forget the deprivation of their lives. Mother Theresa
Man’s inhumanity to man shall countless thousands mourn. Robert Burns
What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears. Seneca
Some reckon their age by years,
Some measure their life by art;
But some tell their days by the flow of their tears,
And their lives by the moans of their heart.
The dials of earth may show
The length, not the depth, of years,
Few or many they come, few or many they go,
But time is best measured by tears.
Ah! not by the silver gray
That creeps thro’ the sunny hair,
And not by the scenes that we pass on our way,
And not by the furrows the fingers of care
On forehead and face have made
Not so do we count our years;
Not by the sun of the earth, but the shade
Of our souls, and the fall of our tears.
For the young are oft-times old,
Though their brows be bright and fair;
While their blood beats warm, their hearts are cold —
O’er them the spring — but winter is there.
And the old are oft-times young,
When their hair is thin and white;
And they sing in age, as in youth they sung,
And they laugh, for their cross was light.
But bead, by bead, I tell
The rosary of my years;
From a cross to a cross they lead; ’tis well,
And they’re blest with a blessing of tears.
Better a day of strife
Than a century of sleep;
Give me instead of a long stream of life
The tempests and tears of the deep.
A thousand joys may foam
On the billows of all the years;
But never the foam brings the lone back home —
It reaches the haven through tears.
~Abram J. Ryan~