Thursday, 28 November 2013

Nov 28th 2013 Contentment - why? how?

A recent blog post from 

had a bit of a resonance with what I was thinking about on the way to work this morning.

I'm not going to go into great details. You might already know that I have an auto-immune condition called systemic sclerosis. You might know that I am lucky enough that it causes no pain, that although it slows me down (my heart and lungs are affected) I can still work and get about.

The most inconvenient things are that I have to take all kinds of different pills, have supplementary oxygen at night, and also if I travel by air, but these are not an insurmountable barriers to happiness.

The most important thing is that I have a wonderful family.

I have learned to be content.

I just remember this, from St John's Gospel chapter 10;

9"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

The underlined words came into my head when I was first wrestling with the diagnosis, back in 2001, and have stayed with me ever since.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

To His Love - Ivor Gurney

copied from
heard through JohntheLutheran's tumblr site

Ivor Gurney’s “To His Love”

November 11, 2013 | by
Ivor Gurney in 1920.

In honor of Veterans Day, we are re-running this favorite post.
In the last century, a few years of sodden slaughter in France and Flanders turned British poetry from Keatsian lyricism to raw, aghast reportage. Isaac Rosenberg’s poems, for instance, moved from prewar patriotic exultation—“Flash, mailed seraphim, / Your burning spears”—to, three years later, this numb, bone-dry mutter from the trenches: “Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew / Your cosmopolitan sympathies.”
In Ivor Gurney’s “To His Love” you see the thing happening not in mid-career but in mid-poem—between lines, in a line break, specifically the last one. It’s the most astonishing line break I’ve ever encountered. It’s the sound of a culture’s poetic history cracking in half.
“To His Love” begins as an almost doggedly traditional elegy, with the Byronic echo of “We’ll walk no more on Cotswold.” It meanders through rivers, beasts, flowers, and the old tropes—nobility, “pride,” “memoried.” We are lulled into thinking that the urgency of “Cover him, cover him soon!” arises from intense soldierly love, rather than the desperate need to hide a shredded corpse, that “red, wet / Thing.” The euphemistic Latinate d├ęcor is stripped away; the haplessly tall T does it’s pitiful duty by the form, like a Tommy too shell-shocked to hide, a standing target.
The fragile Gurney was gassed and traumatized by the war, and he lived out his days in asylums.