Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cross-over: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 3 with poem by Robert Browning, Pisgah-Sights. I & II

Daily Readings
Psalm 63, Numbers 9, Deuteronomy 3, Matthew 8

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 3

So successful is this first foray in possessing the land that Moses suddenly expresses his longing to be able to cross-over and view the good land on the West bank of the Jordan. Perhaps he was encouraged by the Lord God’s willingness to allow him continued leadership as it all begins. But God’s response in return is to be ‘cross’ with Moses. Thus in this play on words we have a pun. Intimates, even when they are God and man, often share these sorts of inside humor. Rather, God tells him to go atop Mt. Pisgah and there achieve what he so desires—to see.

Transition time it is, however, as the text of Deuteronomy 3 begins to signal the passing of Moses, even though its finality is at the end of the manuscript. Joshua is being groomed and the words said to him that must be said.

Pisgah-Sights. I & II
Robert Browning

Over the ball of it,
Peering and prying,
How I see all of it,
Life there, outlying!
Roughness and smoothness,
Shine and defilement,
Grace and uncouthness:
One reconcilement.

Orbed as appointed,
Sister with brother
Joins, ne’er disjointed
One from the other.
All’s lend-and-borrow;
Good, see, wants evil,
Joy demands sorrow,
Angel weds devil!

‘Which things must—why be?’
vain our endeavour!
So shall things aye be
As they were ever.
‘Such things should so be!’
Sage our desistence!
Rough-smooth let globe be,
Mixed-man’s existence.

Man—wise and foolish,
Lovr and scorner,
Docile and mulish—
Keep each his corner!
Honey yet gall of it!
There’s the life lying,
And I see all of it,
Only, I’m dying!

Could I but live again,
Twice my life over,
Would I once strive again?
Would I not cover
Quietly all of it—
Greed and ambition—
So, from the pall of it,
Pass to fruition?

‘Soft!’ I’d say, ‘Soul mine!
Three-score and ten years,
Let the blind mole mine
Digging out deniers!
Let the dazed hawk soar,
Claim the sun’s rights too!
Turf ‘tis thy walk’s o’er,
Foliage thy flight’s to.’

Only a learner,
Quick one or slow one,
Just a discerner,
I would teach no one.
I am earth’s native:
No rearranging it!
I be creative,
Chopping and changing it?

March, men, my fellows!
Those who, above me,
(Distance so mellows)
Fancy you love me:
Those who, below me,
(Distance makes great so)
Free to forego me,
Fancy you hate so!

Praising, reviling,
Worst head and best head,
Past me defining,
Never arrested,
Wanters, abounders,
March, in gay mixture,
Men, my surrounders!
I am the fixture.

So shall I fear thee,
Mightiness yonder!
Mock-sun—more near thee,
What is to wonder?
So shall I love thee,
Down in the dark, --lest
Glowworm I prove thee,
Star that now sparklest!

Collect for the Day
Eternal Love, our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Let your glory shine on us, that our lives may proclaim your goodness, our work give you honour, and our voices praise you forever; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:784:63 psalm prayer]


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