(By George Herbert (1593-1633))
Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greenesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an houre;
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
And relish versing: O my onely light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom they tempests fell all night.
These are they wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
Which when we once can finde and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
This poem is my inspiration today because I find the concept of visiting heaven and hell in an hour a very modern idea. It seems that this up and down experience must have been fundamental to human beings over the centuries. Whilst a lot of things have changed, I feel I could sit down with George Herbert and feel some sense of connection.
Surely a self-help book must be published every minute of the day. My local library has a shelf of books they call “Prescriptive”. Yet most of the situations, if not all, we humans get ourselves into are explored in ancient literature and literature of earlier times. Whether I’m watching a Shakespeare play, a modern play, reading a “prescriptive”, or seeking spiritual guidance from those in “the know” I totally comprehend the errors the characters are making. Yet, it doesn’t stop me from getting myself into the same situations and from oscillating between “heaven” and “hell”.
We have all the wisdom in the world, and we are constantly in touch with that wisdom through cultural and spiritual sources, and yet we fall over and over again. Is it just that the human race isn’t really that intelligent? How many times have I said, “How could they put up with that?”, only to find some way down the line “how” one puts up with it. It’s almost like someone has listened to what I said and then thrown me into the situation, with a sprinkle of salt for good measure. Or is it just that so much experience is just common ground? The “individual” just a rock eroded by the mighty tempests?
Other Inspiration This Month
I must add my words of gratitude for the life of Dr Maya Angelou who recently passed from this world. Her books and poems have given me not only great enjoyment, but also tremendous inspiration and wisdom. They will definitely put my suitcase over the weight limit when I head for the desert island.
And I’m currently working my way through The Embroiderer’s Workbook by Jan Messent.
In my next blog I might take a look at Meditation.