Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 23, 2010
Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part,
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have giv'n him over,
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.
Michael Drayton, English Elizabethan poet;
he died on this date, 1631
On the surface, this seems a poem to a lover about a love that has gone cleanly sour. Perhaps.
I see it as a poem about self-alienation, and about reclaiming one’s Wholeness. And, I think, about what Religion might call Repentance, “turning away from and to”.
It is so easy to be “out of love” with oneself. I know how critical I can be of myself. How annoyed with my seeming stupidity about things. How unconnected with my hope and vision for the person I desire to be. How judgmental of my failures. How alienated from my place in the Universe.
To be able to free oneself “so cleanly” of things in one’s Life that one may have “loved” but which have turned sour and become destructive is one of the great gifts of a life of Faith. Seen clearly and rightly, the path of the Gospel of Christ is such a Faith. It tells us to see honestly the things which are destructive to our humanity and person; to “kiss and part” cleanly; to let go of destructive “loves” so cleanly that “when we meet at any time again / Be it not seen in either of our brows / That we one jot of former love retain”.
Theologically, “Death” is the permitted destruction of an “old Self” so that a “new Self” can emerge. Christians – well, this eclectic Christian anyway! – believe in such a “God” ….. a God Who, “when all have given” us “over”, from “death to life thou might’st” us “yet recover”.
This is a season in which we are asked to honour and welcome into our Selves this Holy Presence Who brings the gift of “clean” Wholeness.