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Taking Off
Bumping over frozen ruts
Until hard brown ground
Becomes a song, a threnody
Of no one’s pain but mine
A relief to rise over the tops
Of budless bushes and naked trees
Whose thin bony fingers try
To touch anything
Unlike a child who knows
Better than to ask, I ask
Why this funeral of earth
Where is the green of life gone?
Then, into himalayas of clouds
Knowing nothing
Of the expired world,
Appears the sapphire blue of mind
Keats, who of course did not write the poem above, died young and, like many older people, had to face despair about his unrealised potential and lost youth. (His poetry became very popular during Covid.) 
He had long struggled with the contradiction of death as something to be avoided at all costs and yet desired as the source of the peace the human psyche longs for. This tension is at the heart of any truly religious approach to life, meaning seeing life as a sacred wonder. The difficult death of his brother who John nursed changed him permanently. His way through the paradox became what he called ‘dying into life’. It means finding the peace of accepted suffering.
I think our daily meditation is a way of dying into life, not by using the precious time to analyse our problems for the millionth time or to wallow in resentment and self-sorrow or to construct an alternative reality we call miscall detachment or thinking we are enlightened. But it is to find the small point, too small for the ego to enter, where acceptance is secretly accomplished. How this happens can hardly be observed or remembered but it is undeniable: we know we have died to something and live with a peace that the world alone cannot give.
Keats was also in love with the mystery of beauty. Without the experience of beauty, one of the three attributes of God, along with truth and goodness, we could not find this small point where we let go of everything and become richly poor. Beauty even its brief appearances is overwhelming.
Laurence Freeman
Lenten Reflections 2024
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