Sunday, February 28, 2010

Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.
--T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

This lady seems to be many women: Mary, a redeemed Eve, a fertility goddess, a nun. At least, I feel that she is all of these and more - not capable of being contained with one category or description.

Words like sister and mother claim kinship. We are related to her. We make our pleas to her.

"Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood."

I will allow that phrase to stand on its own without commentary.

"Teach us to care and not to care."

This makes me think of whole-hearted engagement combined with detachment from outcomes, a Buddhist way of engaging the world. We do what is needful and appropriate with no concern for the outcome, offering right action as its own reward.

Having come home to one's true self, finding God at the same time, we offer the prayer that this not be undone.

"Suffer me not to be separated" - from the Anima Christi (see below).

"And let my cry come unto Thee" - from Psalm 102:1 (Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee) - A standard versicle and response in the Western tradition.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise thee
Forever and ever.

--the BB


Grandmère Mimi said...

I'll try to remember to add the three words to put the veracity of the Republicans to the test.

Honestly, Pablito, I could have done without this walk down memory lane. How sickening.

John D said...

I just came to your Lenten reflections on Eliot's great poem today. Thanks so much, from one who's struggled with how to pray this Holy Lent.