Saturday, September 5, 2015

3.4 School is in Session

The Ladder of Divine Ascent 3.4

In hastening to solitude and exile, do not wait for world-loving souls, because the thief comes unexpectedly. In trying to save the careless and indolent along with themselves, many perish with them, because in course of time the fire goes out. As soon as the flame is burning within you, run; for you do not know when it will go out and leave you in darkness. Not all of us are required to save others. The divine Apostle says: ‘Each one of us shall give account of himself to God.’4 And again he says: ‘Thou therefore who teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?’1 This is like saying: I do not know whether we must all teach others; but teach yourselves at all costs.

4 Romans xiv, 12
1 Romans ii, 21.

School is back in session but you don't want to go
There are so many things to learn that you don't want to know
But you know tests are coming, and you must prepare
There's no time for no child left behind
Not if you know what's waiting there
A heart is a terrible thing to mind
At all costs teach yourself and beware

You might not be a teacher and you might not have a school
But if you don't teach yourself you know you are a fool
You might not save others when yourself you can't save
But you can keep telling yourself the truth
And you'll be rescued from the grave
Learn to love wearing the yoke in your youth
And when you're old you'll keep the rule

Learn while it is the daytime, for swiftly falls the night
Run while you're heart is burning with that eternal light
Teach those who want to learn and leave the rest behind
Don't let the worldly drag you to Hell
Buy up whatever wisdom you can find
When the flame will go out you cannot tell
So run toward the test with all your might

Friday, July 31, 2015

3.3 Making a Proverb of Myself

I think I'd like to be a stylite sitting high above the town
All the people looking up at me while I refuse to look down
Yes I think that's how I'd like to win my ascetic crown
To be put on a pedestal high up above them all
And shout down to the scoffers "Pride cometh before a fall!"

I think I'd like to be a hermit alone in the wilderness
In a cave - maybe with bear - far from the worldly mess
Where crowds come to hear my advice and hope I will bless
And from my privacy I will give them all instruction
Such as "A haughty spirit comes before destruction!"

I think I'd like to be a mendicant and leave everything behind
I would be an opportunity for the rich to practice being kind
They would give me a lot of money and I would try not to mind
And while they were almsing me I would preach good and loud:
"Better be humble with the poor than with the wealthy and proud!"

I think I'd like to be a simple monk living in a simple cell
Spending all my time in prayer and being saved from Hell
I would be known for piety, wisdom, and humility as well
And when they asked me to be abbot I'd sigh and acquiesce:
"Man makes the plans, but the answer's from the Lord, I guess."

I like to think that I'd like to be an exile from the world to God
I like to think that I'd be humble, pious, separate and odd
I like to think that I'd always remember that I am flawed
I like to think I'd give up gold and buy wisdom instead
But I know myself too well, so I weep and bow my head

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

3.2 Where Can I Put My Stuff?

Where can I put my stuff?
I need a place for my hopes and fears,
My television shows and craft beers,
My books and games and lusts and pain,
My car and wife and kids, all vain
Compared to the value of having
Nothing twixt me and God
Except a sheet of homelessspun.

I hate hate hate them all -
That's right, isn't it, if I love
God enough to make up for it?
He promises to give me back
An hundred-fold of what I lose,
Not that I need any of it.
A loaf of bread in a jug of wine,
and Thou, and Thou, and Thou...

I gave it all away, all the stuff
That filled my space and mind,
And found it all still in my heart,
Not clogging it, but the heartbeat,
The thing that actually gives life,
Put there for my salvation,
Not obstacles, but stepping-stones
And angel-wings to Heaven.