These are thy wonders

Daily Reading for February 27 • George Herbert, Priest, 1633

“These are thy wonders, Lord of love,

To make us see we are but flowers that glide:

Which when we once can finde and prove,

Thou hast a garden for us where to bide.

Who would be more,

Swelling through store,

Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.”

The poet and priest who has taught so many of us to see God “in all things” has a further lesson for us here: to see God beyond all things in the constancy of his promise. So also he calls us from a prayer enclosed in the present moment to one which begins in the present moment but longs hopefully for eternity. Certainly the experience of freedom and joy can be seen as a momentary confirmation of that hope, but confirmation is not fulfillment—fulfillment lies ahead. The truth grasped in the last line of “The Crosse” is nowhere repented of. The gift we are given now to possess without qualification is to share Christ’s agony in our own experience. We cannot with equal truth claim that we share in his Resurrection, for that would be to say that we had left the agony behind and were past change. Herbert, surprisingly perhaps (but the negative truth is needed to enforce what he has been saying positively), ends “The Flower” with severe words against those who claim, as it were, that for them the resurrection has already taken place. We know the power of Christ’s Resurrection now within the fellowship of his sufferings.

From George Herbert: Priest and Poet by Kenneth Mason (Oxford: SLG Press, 1980).

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