Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, April 7, 2010
A Gravestone Upon The Floor In
The Cloisters Of Worcester Cathedral
'MISERRIMUS,' and neither name nor date,
Prayer, text, or symbol, graven upon the stone;
Nought but that word assigned to the unknown,
That solitary word--to separate
From all, and cast a cloud around the fate
Of him who lies beneath. Most wretched one,
'Who' chose his epitaph?--Himself alone
Could thus have dared the grave to agitate,
And claim, among the dead, this awful crown;
Nor doubt that He marked also for his own
Close to these cloistral steps a burial-place,
That every foot might fall with heavier tread,
Trampling upon his vileness. Stranger, pass
Softly!--To save the contrite, Jesus bled.
William Wordsworth, poet, born on this date,
1770. Poet Laureate of England (1843-50)
In the Christian “season”, it’s the Fifty Great Days of Eastertide. Celebrating the power of Life over Death in all its glorious dimensions for a “Pentecost” before Pentecost!
“Miserrimus” – translates as “Most Miserable”. How very very sad. And beloved elegant Wordsworth has a clear and (I think) important point to make.
No Christian, no solidly grounded Christian, could possibly think of themselves as “Misserimus”. As Wordsworth points out: symbolically, the “Blood of Christ” signifies that Christ’s shed blood represents the freedom all have from the power of Sin to forever condemn any human being from the status of “Most Miserable”. And of course, to think of oneself as “Miserrimus” is the height of Pride!
“Stranger, pass softly”! The message of the Gospel is that none of us ever need think of ourselves as condemned to Misery. By honest awareness and repentance, we are all set free to surge on into deeper and deeper Life.
If you contemplate a gravestone marked with “Miserrimus”, you haven’t “heard” the Gospel message.