A Lenten Meditation
Today the Episcopal Church remembers with thanksgiving the life and work of George Herbert, priest and poet, who died this day in 1633. Born of an ancient English family, he studied divinity in his twenties and took holy orders in 1626. Beloved as a parish priest to his country flock, he is known to posterity chiefly through his poems, which he described as "a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul, before I could submit mine to the will of Jesus my Master, in whose service I have found perfect freedom."
Here is my favorite of his poems, perhaps familiar to many of you:
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Gulty 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.
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