Brian’s Reflection: Monday, July 18, 2011
“Ah! bleak and barren was the moor”
Ah! bleak and barren was the moor,
Ah! loud and piercing was the storm,
The cottage roof was shelter'd sure,
The cottage hearth was bright and warm—
An orphan-boy the lattice pass'd,
And, as he mark'd its cheerful glow,
Felt doubly keen the midnight blast,
And doubly cold the fallen snow.
They marked him as he onward press'd,
With fainting heart and weary limb;
Kind voices bade him turn and rest,
And gentle faces welcomed him.
The dawn is up—the guest is gone,
The cottage hearth is blazing still:
Heaven pity all poor wanderers lone!
Hark to the wind upon the hill!
William Makepeace Thackery, poet,
novelist; he was born on this date,
1811, in Calcutta, of Anglo-Indian
A perfect metaphor - or parable - for thought and reflection today. In a sense, we are all “orphan-boys” or girls. I was thinking about my childhood in Verdun. Of course I had a home, and parents. Except for a couple of instances, I felt I had a safe home, where I was wanted. But I was a lonely child; I often felt “out of it”, not a part of my “peer group”. But, I could go to my maternal grandmother’s after school and drink tea with milk and sugar, and she would give me a dollar to go buy ice cream. I could go to my aunt Elsie’s for tea and watch the budgies she raised. I could go to my Auntie Ann’s and drink tea and eat her terrific Scottish shortbread. I could go to my dear friend Martin’s house and his dear mother would serve me tea while I waited for him to get up and get ready for school. I could go to my aunt Molly’s and drink tea and be coddled. I’ll never give up tea with sweet and milk; it is a profound symbol of being cared for! In many ways, there have been those through my Life who have, mostly unawares, been the “kind voices” and “gentle faces” who have seen that inner part of me that was/is the “orphan boy” and have “bade me turn and rest”.
I think in many ways we are all, in some way, “poor wanderers alone”. Yes, we are all part of the Human Community, yes, we are assisted (hopefully) by friends and family. Yes, there are those who walk with us through Life. But it is also true that we must each walk this Life alone, things that we must do that no one can do for us. And we must in the end leave those who wait with us and Journey with Death alone. Often, “bleak and barren” is the “moor”.
I have been blessed in being shown, and then in having nurtured and shaped for myself, a Mystery. A Mystery with which I am One. A Mystery that is I. A Mystery that is Being and Life. A Mystery in which I am held and in which nothing can demean me. It is like the “cottage hearth” that is “blazing still” – and it always will. It’s hearth will always be there to welcome me in from the cold.
And it is for us all. I hope you have found it.