The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Monday, January 6, 2014

In the Bleak Midwinter

So here's the thing about clinical pastoral training--it's stark. Moments of heartbreak mixed in with stretches of tedium, and every now and again a moment of inspiration--wait; that's too Hallmarky. A moment when God grabs you by the scruff of the neck, and shakes the complacency out. That's a little closer.

A moment where, for example, a patient who is slowly running out of options, told me that she was not worrying about dying--that she figured that, when it came, there would not be too much for her to do, so she would let it go.

That rings true to me, and shows a kind of courage I only hope I have when my own time comes.

The courage I see every day I go astonishes me.

It's the sort of thing that makes the bleak midwinter less bleak--a gentle, practical response to the Great Fear--and one that cuts that great fear down to size.

So what has this got to do with Holst's setting of Christina Rossetti's poem? I'm not sure; but recently, when I needed an image of the simple light of goodness flickering without expiring, despite the dark, that's what came to mind. No great vaunting claims; no supernal word spinning. Simple words, simply sung, with conviction and truth.

A gentle, pragmatic acceptance that we can do only that which we can do, in the face of the great mysteries and experiences of life, and trust that the result will be a worthwhile thread in the great tapestry.

A Happy Epiphany, one and all.

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