These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey Is loathsome in his own deliciousness And in the taste confounds the appetite.Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so. Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow. – Romeo and Juliet
Tobit’s Call (A poem)
“Tobit! Tobit! Arise!
I have for you a quest that cannot be yours but for
The most daring of trust –
Take nothing but this Angelic guide
That looks like the possibility of conversation
Guided by a love that does not grasp…
I have for you the most impossible of tasks;
The deliverance from evil of the Beloved
As your guide, you have the patience of your heart and the unguent balm of weeping,
And I will give you the crown of love if you endure…”
Tobit arose with the bravery of dawn utterly unprepared for the humiliations that were to come,
He did not know that blindness would be his bread,
And failure upon the road would be blessed only for the faithfulness of his constant step…
So the Angelic guide took him deeper into a discovery that was
Outstretched in the canyons of the dessert where the pains of love kept pouring;
He did not but keep his gaze upon entry to the home appointed by the Angel…
Out from the wretched writhing inside him
A monstrous fish dared to drag him to the annihilation found in his tearing teeth
Tobit cried to his angel! “Guide me certain! Guide me clear!”; beggar hands upon the pilgrim’s staff were now near exhaustion…
The angel’s wings were in every smile of knowing, every crystal moment of belonging…
“Tobit! Tobit! Why are you here inconsolable upon this path, with no bread but your tears…?”
“They have taken my Beloved…I am forlorn, I crumble here at the crossroads of my heart..
what use do I have for my legs and the flesh of my heart and these parched lips and the tremor of each breath and the stupor of my gaze?… O Angel, have pity on me, I do not know even how to walk… Angel of healing, Angel of love do not taunt me with your holy music!”
Now running Tobit exclaimed further:
“I have done your bidding and mockery and derision are my only friend! …
I am but a clown in the sight of all who stare into my eyes!…”
Silence is my response said the grass at the verges of the city..
“O angel guide me home…”
“One gaze now at the Beloved my daring heart yearns…
O ecstasy unknown but to those who dare to weep all their tears…
O Angel I have prayed in the birth pains of the night for the bravery of morning
My body is ablaze in awaiting – O Angel send my Beloved for I am inconsolable!…
I have no words to utter but to hold my gaze fixed upon your fiery wings! …”
The angelic music now pauses
And the grass flickers like a thousand candles
There is a man digging a grave;
And the door is open to the House of Belonging.
It is the gaze of her father,
He is digging me a grave,
For my body to lie rotting in the earth
Once I have breathed my last breath
In the face of a baleful demon…
The father’s gaze is welcoming but poised to see
The excruciating pain for those who fail their deliverance…
“Come in he says” sheltering his tears as he palms the fresh earth
I wish you to enter the House of Belonging
But it is clear that he knows I am to die
His smile is like that of a farewell at the funeral pyre
Marked by the seal of autumnal ripples in ice-bitten wind…
Trembling I am like a lamb
My meekness feels like fasting
I barely know how to cross the threshold…
So the Angel gathers me like dew on my eyelashes
And sends me a silver inspiration;
Gazing I am in a Silver Forest and in that moment
All ablaze are the trees and I hear this message now clearer than earthly dawn:
“Silver are the streams that have guided you beloved Tobit!
I make the hairs on your arms stand on your end…
When captivated by my beauty you wish to die in silence
Alone in the naked wilderness but to be closer to my embrace…
But this is not the day for such abandon…
I have allowed you to endure all these things… because I wish to bless you
With the coolest drink of love…
So you will know that purity is the seal of all loves…
It is the assurance of Immaculate Embrace…
Tobit sunk to his knees surrounded by the rustles of a thousand silver leaves compelling him to hold his hands before him like a cup to hold their distilled song…
And he said “God of my Fathers, seal my heart with the unbreakable seal of steadfastness, I wish to love like the wildness of the sea in the storm, I wish to love like the motions that bring the light of the stars to glitter in the reflections of the gaze of my Beloved… I wish to love with the songs of the highest seraphim, I wish to love with the crawling of the ants, and stillness of the swans… Father grant my wish to love! Fill my cup to the brimming! Father! Father of my fathers… Father of all!…”
Bowing Tobit crosses the threshold and now
He senses the whirlpool of demons and the stench of the piled corpses littered in the earth…
“They have all died…
Their carcasses are now earth-riddled…
His breathing is like a chain of prayer beads…
His hands are sweating, his back aches, his mouth is dry; he steadies himself with the song that is resonating in his breast…
Then – union.
It is the Beloved – his heart recognises her unsteady gaze, her yearning…
Tormented by a chorus of unholy voices…
He holds her hand and they are guided now to the Shelter…
Of conversation guided by love…
For love is what guides all…
He listens with the freedom of the listening silver leaves…
“Ancient are the pines of listening!” his heart whispers, “and young as the sapling…!”
Tobit speaks to the family –
The wedding unfurls like silk wine…
But not theirs will be immediate embrace;
“Sarah. I love you. Let us wait three nights in the cold of night. On the third day we shall be united in every way until all is fulfilled in time and into eternity” …
The demon leaves screeching!
…banished in his ceaseless grasping, eating his own hands and scratching purposely against the Holy Shield and there too is poised the Most glorious fiery angel whose sword has cut through all night! …
“Love guides all who dare beyond all endurance” their hearts beat…
“Love guides all who dare beyond all endurance”…
Their embrace is the silence of peaceful belonging;
Effortless but most brave victory.
The soul and the Beloved.
Intangible was the chaos I was born from;
I ached continuously outpoured from the depths of the Source
The Source was constant but intangible was the chaos that was at the depths,
Spirit hovered now over the profundities and all was filled with the
Tremendous presence of the One who was coming…
Formed now from this abyss there was from the dust
Brought forth the depths of my passion Spirit;
A thousand violins now soaring in symphony for you – Beloved!
Arms raised in gift my body is filled with life;
I am calling out now in the depths of the Source…
In the night I am alone and stretched out I embrace the whole unity of creation
Every beating heart that has dwelt upon this earth
And I am doing it for you – Beloved!
I wish to be totally given, broken and on fire…
I have no words to give you; my silence suffices to express
The depths of my love – Beloved!
My waiting is electric,
I am in the agony of giveness,
Sometimes my pain brings weeping;
Sometimes my pain reminds me
I am keeping my love for golden hope…
Crystallised beyond this endurance
The corpse of life no longer festers;
There is again the most beautiful of waters
That cooling tears are brimming
The mellifluous harvest of patience…
With my whole being I cry to be alive!
I am not made for death!
I am jubilation!
I am not made for death!
“The coffee is now ready darling,
And long have I waited to be with you
In the silence of our love…”
ATTENDANTS AT GOD’S THRONE
It is as messengers that they most often figure in the Bible, but, as St. Augustine, and after him St. Gregory, expresses it: angelus est nomen officii (“angel is the name of the office”) and expresses neither their essential nature nor their essential function, viz.: that of attendants upon God’s throne in that court of heaven of which Daniel has left us a vivid picture:
I behold till thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days sat: His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like clean wool: His throne like flames of fire: the wheels of it like a burning fire. A swift stream of fire issued forth from before Him: thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him: the judgment sat and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9-10; cf. also Psalm 96:7; Psalm 102:20; Isaiah 6, etc.)
This function of the angelic host is expressed by the word “assistance” (Job 1:6; 2:1), and our Lord refers to it as their perpetual occupation (Matthew 18:10). More than once we are told of seven angels whose special function it is thus to “stand before God’s throne” (Tobit 12:15; Revelation 8:2-5)
Peckham Rye – in honour of William Blake
William, what did you see
When at Peckham Rye
Scintillating through the bark and mangled branches
An angelic dance?
Burned through your minds eye?…
William what did you see?
William what did you see?
Tell me, so that I may too
Dare to see truer still;
What it was that you saw…
Truer still than what you saw…
At the dawn of creation I looked into your eyes,
My heart melted
And poured itself into yours
And our souls kissed.
Through the blades of grass we saw each other,
I thirsted for you perfectly,
As you were the one to complete me;
To fill my emptiness with abundance,
With a kiss like the ocean . . .
To hold me every day of my life
– Two puzzle pieces forged from without.
My hand extended out to yours,
A perfect geometry in that first caress,
Like tessellated heartbeats,
Eyelashes of flames,
And with mouth astonished, agape
The taste of infinity filled me
On red lips like cherries
Ripe, plump, oozing,
And almost pained in fear to break
Your contours of equilibrium,
I blessed you with my fingers
And you felt to me like the dew of the morning . . .
Sweet, tender, delicious
And my heart burned in ecstasy
Consumed by your beauty.
I delight in you,
For you were
Fearfully and wonderfully made,
How I adore you,