Thursday, 27 February 2014

The priest and the yoga mat

In my yoga practice today, as I was trying to rest in Corpse pose, I suddenly remembered that today is one of my favourite days of the Christian calendar. For today the Church remembers George Herbert, the 17th-century poet and priest of the parish of Bemerton near Salisbury.

I love Herbert's poetry for its tenderness and beauty, and for its understanding of what it means to seek an encounter with the Divine. Herbert is wonderfully aware of the motives, the hopes and the hesitancy with which human beings approach God, and also of the complete love with which God responds.

My favourite of Herbert's poems is the third poem in a short series called Love. It sums up the feelings of inadequacy humans often carry when coming into the Divine presence, and yet in every line it portrays the overwhelming welcome and acceptance which is offered in return.

And perhaps, after all, there is a connection between yoga and Herbert's poem: both are an invitation into Divine stillness and rest.

Love (III) by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
        Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
        From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
        If I lacked anything.

"A guest," I answered, "worthy to be here":
        Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
        I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
        "Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
        Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
        "My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
        So I did sit and eat.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, thank you. x (I love the metaphysical poets!)


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