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Archive for October 9th, 2011

A Sorrow Shared

Friends from school and church have been bringing us several meals each week since the house burned, and even though we have a house now it is still a blessing.  I have not had time for a big trip to the store yet, and we don’t have any of the staples you need to have on hand.  Plus we are still so busy trying to organize the house, and now trying to catch up in the office, that not having to worry about dinner makes a big difference.

A few nights ago, our church friends brought a poem to share along with the macaroni casserole and spinach salad.  I had read Anne Bradstreet before, first as a sophomore at KCHS in my American Lit class.  I don’t think I ever read this particular poem, though, and if I did I doubt it would have resonated with me the way it does now.  I wanted to share it with you.

VERSES UPON THE BURNING OF OUR HOUSE (1666)

In silent night when rest I took, 
For sorrow neer I did not look, 
I waken’d was with thundring nois 
And Piteous shreiks of dreadfull voice. 
That fearfull sound of fire and fire, 
Let no man know is my Desire. 
I, starting up, the light did spye, 
And to my God my heart did cry 
To strengthen me in my Distresse 
And not to leave me succourlesse. 
Then coming out beheld a space, 
The flame consume my dwelling place.

And, when I could no longer look, 
I blest his Name that gave and took, 
That layd my goods now in the dust: 
Yea so it was, and so ’twas just. 
It was his own: it was not mine; 
Far be it that I should repine.

He might of All justly bereft, 
But yet sufficient for us left. 
When by the Ruines oft I past, 
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast, 
And here and there the places spye 
Where oft I sate, and long did lye.

Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest; 
There lay that store I counted best: 
My pleasant things in ashes lye, 
And them behold no more shall I. 
Under thy roof no guest shall sitt, 
Nor at thy Table eat a bitt.

No pleasant tale shall ‘ere be told, 
Nor things recounted done of old. 
No Candle ‘ere shall shine in Thee, 
Nor bridegroom’s voice ere heard shall bee. 
In silence ever shalt thou lye; 
Adieu, Adeiu; All’s vanity.

Then streight I gin my heart to chide, 
And didst thy wealth on earth abide? 
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust, 
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust? 
Raise up thy thoughts above the skye 
That dunghill mists away may flie.

Thou hast an house on high erect 
Fram’d by that mighty Architect, 
With glory richly furnished, 
Stands permanent tho’ this bee fled. 
It’s purchased, and paid for too 
By him who hath enough to doe.

A Prise so vast as is unknown, 
Yet, by his Gift, is made thine own. 
Ther’s wealth enough, I need no more; 
Farewell my Pelf, farewell my Store. 
The world no longer let me Love, 
My hope and Treasure lyes Above.

And I just read in the Wikipedia article about her that “her personal library of books was said to have numbered over 800, before many were destroyed when her home burned down.”

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My husband was the second reader at Mass today.  Of course I always expect to find meaning in the readings or the homily, but hearing John read the following this morning hit eerily close to home:

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

Was it no more than a coincidence that this would be today’s reading and that John would be the one to read it, almost exactly one month after our house burned down?  I don’t think so.

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