Sunday, March 27, 2005

Am I a stone

by Christina Rossetti

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

* * *

Christina Rossetti was afflicted with paralysis of the face. It set her face quite literally like flint, so that she could not show facial expressions. This probably inspired the poem.

I feel quite a lot like that, though. It seems I can cry for pain, for sorrow, for homesickness, for disappointment, for any number of things, but I cannot cry at the only thing worth crying for: Christ's suffering.

I was thinking last night, as I tore myself away from the Altar of Repose so as to get home in time, about the time I spend praying. When I was younger, I had loads of time to pray. I even thought it was too much. At boarding school, on Holy Thursday, we had one holy hour together, and everyone got another half-hour in the night, going in shifts. I finally learned to appreciate it the last year I did it.

Now, I want to pray. I am eager to--I wish I had three hours. But now I have no time. I suppose God just gave me the time I had before to teach me how to pray and how to love to pray, and now that I have learned to love to pray, I will make time to pray whenever I can.

1 comment:

Santiago said...

hmm, perhaps you are a contemplative.... I guess a poet is a type of contemplative. In any case, you are much better at this praying business than me. You should read Thomas Merton's letters to Jacques Maritain, where he talks to him about praying as if it was the most glorious thing to do on earth. It's quite moving.

By the way, I've cited you as an inspiration for my new blog. See here:

Happy Easter.