Monday, July 7, 2008

Be Merciful to Me, a Fool!

I cannot blog tonight. At least I cannot blog anything worth reading. I haven’t written anything worthwhile since before AMEN. Several pieces have been in the works, stewing on the back burner, so to speak, since the conference, but I think I shall abandon them. At least for tonight.

Part of the problems is that my thoughts refuse to be gathered together meaningfully. My heart rebels against my mind. My flesh struggles with both. So how could my mind actually put into words what my heart screams? And if this feat were possible, how then could my fingers write those words which my mind painfully manages?

So, tonight I submit to you a poem. Nay! Do not pass over the humble poetry as if it were unimportant to the message of this post. I do not always present you, dear reader, with idle, fanciful poems, nor do I supply you with the work of far better writers simply to amuse you or show you what type of writing I respect and appreciate. On the contrary, often – and tonight is one such moment – I shyly speak to you through the lips of another. The poet wrought the verses, but the plea might as well be mine.

The Fool's Prayer
Edward R. Sills

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head and bent his knee
Upon the monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but, Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

“ ‘Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

“The ill-timed truth we might have kept –
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say –
Who knows how grandly it had rung?

“Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders – oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”

Certain theological aspects of this poem are obviously skewed, but overall, I cry out with the jester. Men hurt and are hurt, sometimes purposefully, often not. But only with the Lord is there mercy. Though I can plead with the “King’s fool”, I all too often find myself in the role of the king – making sport of the sacred and being humbled and called to repentance by what I thought profane.
But Thou, O Lord, be merciful to me, a fool!

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