Monday, April 16, 2007

April Showers

T.S. Eliot began The Waste Land with the immortal words:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Memory and desire, stirring
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Dull roots with spring rain.

Ah, the spring rains. In the metropolitan New York area, we have received 7" of rain since early Sunday morning, and it keeps on raining. This April has been the coldest I've ever seen, with temperatures struggling to reach 50 degrees, and no sign of spring. The memory and desire of warmth, sun, and flowers blooming creates the cruelty felt in the mind and heart. We so want the cold and rain to end.

The rain gives me an excuse to speak of Eliot, whose poetry, especially his Four Quartets, has such lasting power to move the soul. Little Gidding, the last of the Quartets is in my mind one of the greatest poems in all of English literature. That it speaks of faith, makes it attractive, but it sums up magnificently the heart's great longing for communion, healing, and hope. It is, for me, a poem about heaven.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know that place for the first time.

The poem ends incorporating St. Julian of Norwich's great affirmation:

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

So the rain falls, and we patiently wait for spring, and for new life, and for Christ to come and erase all fears, all tears. We wait for heaven on earth.


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