Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.
--T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday
I am struck today by the phrase in the header: the thought of those who are terrified and cannot surrender. This, I believe, is about surrendering to grace. To live in fear - of God, of one's failures, of one's limitations, of one's secret sins, of the world, of oneself - yet not be able to do the one saving thing - letting go - is a terrible place to be.
Will the veiled sister pray not only for those who "merit" her intercessions but also for those who offend her? Is there forgiveness for the sinner? Are there new beginnings for the worst offenders? Fresh starts for those abject in failure? What hope is there for those who know they have affirmed before the world and then, in the rocky place, have denied?
Peter, of course, reminds us that the answer for at least some of this is Yes.
The apple-seed associated (non-biblically) with our fall is withered. It is the Cross that will flower. We must move beyond our guilt and fear. God wants better for us.