Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lantern Out of Doors

G. M. Hopkins

Sometimes a lantern moves along the night,
That interests our eyes. And who goes there?
I think; where from and bound, I wonder, where,
With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?
Men go by me whom either beauty bright
In mould or mind or what not else makes rare:
They rain against our much-thick and marsh air
Rich beams, till death or distance buys them quite.

Death or distance soon consumes them: wind
What most I may eye after, be in at the end
I cannot, and out of sight is out of mind.

Christ minds: Christ's interest, what to avow or amend
There, éyes them, heart wánts, care haúnts, foot fóllows kínd,
Their ránsom, théir rescue, ánd first, fást, last friénd.

Hopkins sits by his window at night and sees a traveler, making his way along a path, with a lantern to guide his steps as he "wades" through the darkness.

"Who goes there?" he asks himself, and wonders, "Where has he come from, and where is he bound?"

The sight reminds him of those who have passed by and whose rare physical, mental or spiritual beauty has, like a lantern, rained rich beams of light into his dark, murky world. They have passed out of sight through death or distance and have been forgotten. He wonders what happened to them "at the end," but admits that he has lost interest in them. Out of sight is out of mind.

Out of his mind? Perhaps, but never out of Christ's mind. He pursues them to avow the good he has brought into being and to amend the evil that remains in them. His eyes are on them (He "eyes" them), his heart "wants" them, his care haunts them, his "foot follows kind."[1] He is a friend like no other.

We get old, obsolete, and out of circulation. Others forget us, but there is one who never forgets, who relentlessly pursues us, who perseveres to the end as our ransom, our rescue. He is our first, fast, last friend.

Our Lord is not one to give up on his friends. He makes them in this life and takes them with him into eternity. He makes friends the only way there is to make them--forever.

And so I pray, may I "run my course with even joy, and closely walk with Thee to heaven"[2] --like old Enoch, who was walking with God one day and then was simply gone, for God took him in (Genesis 5:22-24).


[1] A reference to the incarnation: "He is one of our kind."
[2] From Charles Wesley's hymn, "Forth in Thy Name."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your words. They are rich and satisfying. You are remembered for now, here in South Korea. It is great to read and receive from your e-musings from this time zone.


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