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Love bade me welcome

I believe some people find it difficult to celebrate Christmas because they feel badly about themselves. Contrary to the words of the Psalm, they do not feel, 'When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up'. They feel abandoned by everybody, including God, and they have the horrible suspicion they deserve it. Poet George Herbert understood this feeling -

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed 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.

I think this story of Love is the story of Christmas. Herbert's story is told here.

. . .Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the year only lost to me?
Have I no bays to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?
All wasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands. . .

Comments (2)

Thank you, Cat, for putting this most moving of English poems. Two years ago I was in an Anglican church in Montreal where they were reciting the Litany. And who, to my joyful amazement, did I hear named among the throng of saints? St George Herbert, no less. No one deserved it more.


Thank you for these pieces.

There is invariably a sadness, a sense of isolation and sometimes of desolation, especially at times like Christmas, when we reel off to ourselves our wallpaper-long-list of our shortcomings - and worse.

It is reading things like this that can help us see beyond the gloom, if only for a short while

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