Monday, June 22, 2015

Eliot: The dove descending breaks the air

Monday, June 22, 2015
    Feast of Alban, first Martyr of Britain, c.209
    Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”
    —John 1:32-33 (NIV)
The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre—
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.
    ... T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), from Four Quartets, The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1952, p. 143-144 (see the book)
    See also John 1:23-33; Deut. 4:24; Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21-22; Acts 2:2-3; Heb. 12:28-29
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You burn within me.

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