“If you treated anyone else as you have treated yourself during the past six hours, you would be guilty of assault. This will cease. From this moment on, you will show your body the respect it deserves as God’s creation. You will allow your arms to heal and then you will embark on a sensible and moderate course of physical therapy. You will eat regularly. You will rest properly. You will care for your own body as you would for that of a friend to whom you are indebted. …During these months and for all time, you will cease to arrogate to yourself responsibility that lies elsewhere. Is that clear?”
– Vincenzo Giuliani in The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
Your fleshhouse and bones-chamber
is the hall of your soul.
Vessel of clay it may be,
but by God its contents are precious:
your sinew and skeleton garment
is your spirit’s place.
Do not destroy the potter’s work.
Stop fretting on all those slender jars
and their busy shining use;
be emptied, be filled,
to glorious ends.
Fill your heart’s coffer
as filling the home
for your friend
and your lord.
This is a poem I wrote a few months back. It patters in anapests, and sermonizes a bit, but as I needed a bit of self-admonishing didacticism today, I thought I’d share it ’round.
Chase after delight ‘til the setting of sun:
You never shall catch it, for all that you run;
Your eyes seeking happiness day and all night
will only grow sore, for it flies far from sight.
But keep your eyes up and your hands stretched to help,
and seek truer joy in forgetting yourself.
Just as seeking your own good keeps happiness hence,
so you do yourself danger in building a fence.
There is no such thing as a love that plays safe,
only very complex forms of envy and hate –
though it tempts, you must not keep your breast-coffers shut;
there are worse fates than heartbreak, heartburning, heartcut.
It crumbles to dust when you keep it from day;
who would have a whole heart must hurl safety away.
No joy will lay siege to that dark citadel,
so cast off the armor that holds you in hell.
As ever, I am indebted to Lewis: There is no safe investment. …The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.