an agreeable possibility

I wrote here right after Easter that what came to mind for me this year were the words from W.H. Auden’s For the Time Being, his Christmas oratorio. I said that while the words are meant to apply to Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, somehow this year they spoke to my experience of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.

Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

I didn’t want to dwell on those words during Easter week, but they do in fact speak to me at a deep level. When I read them to my spiritual director I started to choke up, which suggests just how much the words do speak to me.

When Auden published those words in 1944, I believe he directly and candidly captured the behavior of so many of us in Western mainline Christianity. Perhaps we are just so caught up in our secular, daily lives we just don’t take time for the sacred. I can tell you about how I fail to take time with my prayer beads, even as much as that practice benefits me.

And notice the double meaning in the last line. “His” is capitalized. The promising child cannot keep his own word for long. Nor can he keep God’s word for long.

My spiritual director asked me to look during this season of Easter at what promises I am going to keep.

I’m working on that.



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