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

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bible Comment on Ezekiel 42 with poem by T. S. Eliot, Ash-Wednesday I: Dimensions of Hope

Daily Readings
Wisdom of Solomon 3, I Samuel 12, Ezekiel 42, John 21

Daily Text: Ezekiel 42

Dimensions of Hope
Ezekiel 42 is uneven. The first 14 verses deal with clerical matters like where the priests eat and change their garments, not a matter of original concern to Ezekiel, but to a later group. Matters like this and sacrifices are pragmatic additions to chapters 40-42. Ezekiel was less colorful, two-dimensional, giving measurements from the heavenly guide, laying out on another level the dimensions of hope for the community in exile. And even that hope was years away, at least a generation away. But even so, the dimensions, in a more literal sense were gargantuan. This temple was to occupy a site 500 cubits on a side, roughly the length of three football fields square. With this vision hope had a blueprint.

Ash-Wednesday I
T. S. Eliot
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And I pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dyer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Collect for the Day
And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling and lift us from the dark valley of despair to the bright mountain of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy; to him be power and authority, for ever and ever. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968 [489:210:November 21]


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