Tag Archives: Love

The Agony – by George Herbert

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Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

Across the Fields of Night

I’ll never forget the first time I held my niece,
Katherine Jean.
I’d taken the 1am train from Connecticut to DC.
I arrived in the delivery room less than an hour after she was born.

And my brother immediately put her in my arms.

Cradling this gift of new and promise-filled life.
Gazing into her alert, unfocused eyes,
I found myself shaken –
Taken by overwhelming emotion.
By Love.

In that moment,
That overwhelming wave of Love,
I think I got a glimpse of who God is.
If I, flawed human that I am,
(A mere shadow shadow of the Prodigal’s Father)
Running across the fields of night
To greet my niece for the first time –
If I can feel so much unconditional love
For a child who isn’t even my own,
How much more must God,
In God’s perfection,
Love us.

Waiting in Abundance

On December 4, I shared this mediation, reflecting on the Daily Office readings for the day, as part of the Advent Meditation series through the Washington National Cathedral. The meditations are posted daily throughout Advent – you can read them here

Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 23, Matthew 15:29-39

I can’t help but feel the words of Isaiah cut through the quiet contemplation of Advent. The prophet announces the ultimate reunion of all people with God and one another—“a feast of rich food” where God will heal all divisions and destroy death—and calls us to “be glad and rejoice in God’s salvation.” Isaiah’s vision is startling in the recognition of how far we have to go until we can say we stand reconciled before God on God’s holy mountain.

The psalmist echoes this reminder that we live in the in-between, singing of the Lord as shepherd, guiding us safely through the thin spaces between quiet waters and the shadow of death to a table of abundant blessings—with a catch. God sets the table, the psalmist cries, “in the presence of those who trouble” us.

In our annual rush to Christmastide, it’s easy to forget that the child we sing of as “tender and mild” also challenges us to do the impossible: feed the poor, heal the sick, liberate the captive, and love our enemies. The Christ Child will set our table in the presence of those who trouble us and call us to feast on rich foods as equals.

Whom do we find troubling? Who are the “enemies” we try to exclude from receiving the abundant blessings of God? I pray that, as we prepare to meet God in the child lying in a manger, we will come to recognize that those who trouble us aren’t really our enemies at all, but rather beloved children of God just like we are. Advent calls us to undertake the hard work of inviting everyone—especially the people we might rather avoid—to join us on the road to Bethlehem.

When that day comes, I have no doubt that the whole earth will rejoice and be glad.