Friday, July 30, 2010

The Road Goes Ever On

The Road goes ever
    on and on
Down from the door
    where it began.
Now far ahead
    the Road
        has gone,
And I must follow,
    if I can.

Pursuing it
    with eager feet,
Until it joins
    some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

People love to speak of life as a journey, as if to romanticize it. But what if it is neither the serene joyride, nor the travail through Dante's infernal regions. What if it is a lonely walk, a moving exile? To be a Catholic, is to speak of our earthly life as in the prayer Salve Regina, of "this vale of tears" and "this, our exile." We may have joys and sorrows, but we are never truly at ease. When we celebrate the Traditional Mass on Sunday, I lead the servers' crew back to the sacristy. After we say the prayers and put things back in order, there is occasion to make note of the mistakes we should have known better than to make. Our pastor, The good Father will often respond: “The only perfect liturgy is in Heaven.”

He is right, of course. But it also true of our time here. In the play by William Nicholson, Shadowlands, based on the life of C S Lewis, the main character tells us of the meaning of suffering:

Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world ... Why can't He wake us more gently, with violins or laughter? Because the dream from which we must be awakened is the dream that all is well ... Self-sufficiency is the enemy of salvation. If you are self-sufficient, you have no need of God. If you have no need of God, you do not seek Him. If you do not seek Him, you will not find Him ... [and] this world that seems to us so substantial is no more than the shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet.

And so the search continues for the remainder of our lives. Inasmuch as the Church on Earth is a line of souls on pilgrimage, we are among the collective. But there are those along the way, who do not see their fellow sojourners alongside them. Often it is through our own blindness, but just as often, it is the estrangement of others. Even as our Lord was betrayed by one, and rejected by all, there are those who share in that aspect of His suffering, and who walk the long loneliness.

The Road goes ever
    on and on
Out from the door
    where it began.
Now far ahead
    the Road
        has gone,
Let others follow
    it who can!

Let them a journey
    new begin,
But I at last
    with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Until we find the only perfect destination, the heart's true home.

1 comment:

Left-Footer said...

Thank you for this very beautiful and comforting piece. I have a difficult day ahead, but now it seems easier.
One of my favourite poets, Matthew Arnold ends his elegy to his father:
On to the City of God"