Skip to main content

A Drift of Pinions

Job 38:1-7
NRSV: 1Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
2 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
CJB: 1 Then Adonai answered Iyov out of the storm:
2 “Who is this, darkening my plans with his ignorant words?
NRSV: 4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth?
 Tell me, if you have understanding.
CJB: 4 “Where were you when I founded the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
Hebrews 1:1-14
NRSV: (2)……a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of Gods glory and the exact imprint of Gods very being,…..
CJB: ….his Son, to whom he has given ownership of everything and through whom he created the universe.  3 This Son is the radiance of the Sh’khinah, the very expression of God’s essence,
NRSV: 10And,
 In the beginning, Lord,
you founded the earth,
 and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
 they will all wear out like clothing;
12 like a cloak you will roll them up,
 and like clothing they will be changed.
 But you are the same,
 and your years will never end. 
CJB: 10 and,
“In the beginning, Lord,
you laid the foundations of the earth;
heaven is the work of your hands.
11 They will vanish, but you will remain;
like clothing, they will all grow old;
12 and you will fold them up like a coat.
Yes, they will be changed like clothing,
but you remain the same,
your years will never end.”
St Michael and All Angels; September 29th
Job has been my favorite book of the Old Testament since I was a little girl and unchurched.
I think it was because my father loved it, and he would read Chapter 38 from the King James Bible in a resonant voice:
19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,
20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?
He would read the whole chapter out loud just for the joy of it, and tell me that the King James Bible had the most beautiful language of all. I read Shakespeare as a teenager as well, and I think perhaps my love of language was born between the two.
This love arose out of the tingling shiver that I felt sometimes, hearing superb and evocative language. Words could bring me to tears, or make me feel like dancing, or sometimes even as if I could fly. This love was the compelling force that made me begin to write, first poetry and then essays and reflections.
As far as the angels go, I never thought much about the angels until I became a police officer and found out that St. Michael was our patron saint. My only other exposure to a developed concept of what an angel might be was in reading C.S. Lewis’s description of an Oyarsa, which were the tutelary angels of planetary bodies in his science fiction series.
 (From the C. S. Lewis official website:
“The nineteenth century poet Francis Thompson speaks of our blindness to angelic presences, asserting that the Kingdom of God is not distant from us in a strange far away realm, (Malacandra or Perelandra?) but is as close as our breathing. The movement of angels’ wings, “the drift of pinions,” we so long to hear are right alongside us, but we cannot hear the sound because we have our doors shut so tight against the supernatural. The guardian angels have not forsaken us, they keep their ancient divinely appointed places. The Psalmist speaks of angels protecting us from striking our foot against a stone (91.12). Here Thompson depicts a scene of stumbling a little, turning over a stone in the path , and the angels lurching forward their wings outspread protectingly. The fault lies with us; it is our estrangement from the holy, that causes is time and time again to “miss the many splendored thing (“The Kingdom of God”).”
“Not where the wheeling systems darken,

And our benumbed conceiving soars! -

The drift of pinions, would we hearken,

Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places-

Turn but a stone and start a wing!

'Tis ye, 'tis your estrang├Ęd faces,

That miss the many-splendored thing.”

Popular posts from this blog

Which Way The Wind Blows

Lectionaries are funny things— weird, abstruse little lists of biblical passages by number, sort of like tide tables or bus schedules. Today’s Lectionary passages (for 3-9-2018, the week of the third Sunday in Lent) are: Psalm 88; Genesis 47:1-26; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; and Mark 6:47-56
About a month ago I posted a reflection in response to Abbess Jane’s Lectionary Musings blog on the same passage from Corinthians as the one listed for today in the Daily Office Readings Lectionary (BCP). That was supposed to be the reading for the 6th Sunday of Epiphany, according to +Jane, but I just can’t find it anywhere. I looked up Epiphany 6 in both the Daily Office Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary—not there. It’s not the reading from the Lindisfarne Community’s A Way of Living Lectionary for either Year 1 or 2 either. Oh well.
I was never the sort of autist who is fascinated by such things as bus schedules. I am much more inclined to be enthralled by maps. I wonder if I could make a L…

That'll Do

On Sunday the Psalm was the famous 23rd.  I’ve heard it so many times that I never expected anything new to come wandering across the border from that hinterland, but there ya go. So, the liminal phrase is this: “Your rod and your staff they comfort me,” or as the CJB says, “your rod and staff reassure me.”
I got to thinking, “Well, just exactly how does a shepherd use a staff and a rod?” The staff is used to guide the sheep and to catch them. Traditional staffs used in the UK have horn crooks with a sharp curled tip, which I suspect is designed to catch in the fleece. The rod was essentially a club used to defend against predators, but also as a goad to correct the sheep.
I’ve never really identified with the sheep; I mean they are really not very smart and don’t have much of a survival instinct. I also have misgivings about identifying myself as the shepherd of the sheep. So, I asked myself, “What other role might I fill in the whole sheep-shepherd metaphor?” and it came to me: Shee…

The Next Dance

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.
Love always bears up, always trusts,
always hopes, always endures.

I’ve read this over about five times now, and it keeps on growing in my mind. The above is only a part of the verse cited, but it’s the part that kept reaching out and poking me. It’s the part that I felt was reading me; the part that was peering into my heart to see what is going on in there. It’s the part that sat down in front of me with a questioning look on its face, put its chin in its hand, and looked at me without saying anything. And kept on looking.
Eventually I started noticing specific things; I started trying to see what the verse was looking at in me. I noticed that it started out by talking about what love is; then what it isn’t; then back …