Thursday, April 5, 2007

Two Songs for the Table

In my early twenties I had the privilege of performing this with a church choir. It the most haunting of the Herbert poems set by Ralph Vaughan Williams ("Five Mystical Songs"). It still moves me, still brings me to my knees.

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

A guest, I answer'd, 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 marr'd 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.


~ George Herbert

+++

Years later I was working with a woman, a pastor, who in many ways was to become a mentor to me. Once again, I fell in love, though, in this instance, I think I was falling in love at least partially with the pastorate. I knew this woman for 3 or 4 years in the context of our work together, and my infatuation waxed and waned over that time. Also during that time I had no idea of her personal life-- straight, gay, partnered, married, who knew? She was like a wall. When I had finally reached a place of interior accommodation (read: This is not happening. For a whole host of reasons.) she finally came out to me, just as she was moving on to another position. At the same time, she presented me with a disc for my birthday, the group Cry, Cry, Cry, composed of Richard Shindell, Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky. This song is on the album. I came to associate it with her, and with all who need to hide, with a prayer that they know they are welcome at love's table.

You've been taken by the wind
You have known the kiss of sorrow
Doors that would not take you in
Outcast and a stranger

You have come by way of sorrow
You have come by way of tears
But you'll reach your destiny
Meant to find you all these years
Meant to find you all these years

You have drunk a bitter wine
With none to be your comfort
You who once were left behind
Will be welcome at love's table

You have come by way of sorrow
You have come by way of tears
But you'll reach your destiny
Meant to find you all these years
Meant to find you all these years

All the nights that joy has slept
Will awake to days of laughter
Gone the tears that you have wept
You'll dance in freedom ever after

You have come by way of sorrow
You've come over a stony ground
But you'll reach your destiny
Meant to find you all these years
Meant to find you all these years

~ Julie Miller

2 comments:

Cynthia said...

Those are both wonderful. I think I needed to read this tonight.

We Do It Too said...

have we had the conversation about cry, cry, cry? i love them too...the album was given to me by someone at church, brings me back. thanks for the reminder, i am listening to it again.