Black frost

Prayer remains very difficult. This question of the intersection of human awareness and reality continues to bother me. It seems that lately I am trapped within myself. There is no beyond, or other, or transcendence. Which makes it very difficult when all I want is to let self go, get rid of it (if that is not too much of an oxymoron). Such an attitude is possible when one is, however dimly, aware of transcendence, aware of a sense of presence, of the Other. It becomes impossible, perverse even, when the only reality is that which is mediated by the self. Anything else is a memory, an academic conjecture, something to be believed. Suddenly I understand what blind faith is. There is no support, not emotional, not intellectual, not experiential. There is only the will, a will that flickers and gutters like the stub of  candle, feeble in the face of adversity and the centripetal effect of suffering, stronger when wellbeing supports it. This is darkness, of what variety I don’t know. 

I came across this poem by R. S. Thomas. I am always surprised when I come across a reading which seems utterly appropriate at the time and which opens out and widens the horizon from the constricted view of the self.

I have seen it standing up grey,

Gaunt, as though no sunlight

Could ever thaw out the music

Of the great bell, terrible

In its own way, for religion

is like that. There are times

When a black frost is upon

One’s whole being, and the heart

In its bone belfry hangs and is dumb.

But who is to know? Always, 

Even in winter, in the cold

Of a stone church, on his knees

Someone is praying, whose prayers fall

Steadily, through the hard spell 

Of weather that is between God

And himself. Perhaps they are warm rain

That brings the sun and afterwards flowers

On the raw graves and the throbbing of bells.

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