My way, my life, my light

Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind, Duccio, 1308-11, detail

Lent 4 (year A)
The Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41)

As I write, it’s late Saturday night and I leave at dawn for Santa Barbara to lead a retreat (and I’m running out of time). Instead of a further reflection on the Gospel based on the website  prompts, here’s the poem by Francis Quarles (1592-1644). I only posted the last verse on the website, but the full poem is lovely and sets us up for both the Man Born Blind and Lazarus, who appears, bound in gravecloths, in next week’s lectionary.

Why dost thou shade thy lovely face? Oh, why
Does that eclipsing hand so long deny
The sunshine of thy soul-enliv’ning eye?

Without that light, what light remains in me?
Thou art my life, my way, my light; in thee
I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.

Thou art mv life; if thou but turn away
My life’s a thousand deaths: thou art my way;
Without thee, Lord, I travel not, but stray.

My light thou art; without thy glorious sight
Mine eyes are darken’d with perpetual night.
My God, thou art my way, my life, my light.

Thou art my way; I wander if thou fly:
Thou art my light; if hid, how blind am I!
Thou art my life; if thou withdraw, I die.

Mine eyes are blind and dark, I cannot see;
To whom or whither should my darkness flee,
But to the light? and who’s that light but thee?

My path is lost, my wand’ring steps do stray;
I cannot safely go, nor safely stay;
Whom should I seek but thee, my path, my way?

Oh, I am dead: to whom shall I, poor I,
Repair? to whom shall my sad ashes fly,
But life? and where is life but in thine eye?

And yet thou turn’st away thy face, and fly’st me;
And yet I sue for grace, and thou deny’st me;
Speak, art thou angry, Lord, or only try’st me?

Unscreen those heavenly lamps, or tell me why
Thou shad’st thy face; perhaps thou think’st no eye
Can view those flames, and not drop down and die.

If that be all, shine forth, and draw thee nigher;
Let me behold and die, for my desire
Is phoenix-like to perish in that fire.

Death-conquer’d Laz’rus was redeem’d by thee;
If I am dead, Lord, set death’s prisoner free;
Am I more spent, or stink I worse than he?

If my puff’d life be out, give leave to tine
My shameless snuff at that bright lamp of thine;
Oh, what’s thy light the less for lighting mine?

If I have lost my path, great Shepherd, say,
Shall I still wander in a doubtful way?
Lord, shall a lamb of Israel’s sheep-fold stray?

Thou art the pilgrim’s path, the blind man’s eye,
The dead man’s life; on thee my hopes rely;
If thou remove, I err, I grope, I die.

Disclose thy sunbeams; close thy wings, and stay;
See, see how I am blind, and dead, and stray,
O thou, that art my light, my life, my way.

-Francis Quarles

 Also, I highly recommend Bruno Barnhart’s The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center. Every sentence is nourishing and the vision of the whole is astounding. My copy is worn with love. If I were given to swooning, that’s what would happen every time I open the book. Here are a couple of quotes I didn’t post on the website this week.

Painters and poets find their religion in the seeing of what is around them, in the truth of visible reality.  Something is consummated between the tree, the eye and the mind.  Light itself is unitive, is communication.  All light is a vestige, a dew of the light of the Word.  The leaf, the tree, the face are revelations of God in the light that blesses us in them, that brings us together.  The light which creates a visible world around us is a beginning of communion. There is another light hidden within everything, which is the fullness of communion.

Compared with the light she is found to be superior,
for it is succeeded by the night,
but against wisdom evil does not prevail (Wisdom 7:29-30)

-Bruno Barnhart
The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center

When Jesus spits on the ground, makes clay and anoints the man’s eyes, he recalls once more the first creation: God’s molding of Adam from the moist earth (Gen. 2:7). Every healing seems to involve a return to this beginning; every healing occurs within this one great work which is the new birth, new creation within the Word which is Jesus.

-Bruno Barnhart
The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center

3 Responses to “My way, my life, my light”

  1. joan Says:

    Food for the journey, just when needed–thank you Suzanne!

  2. Chris Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful poem. Safe travels, Suzanne!

  3. Diane Stavrum Says:

    Me little heart weeps!

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