The Hound of Heaven

This is a very well known poem by Francis Thompson. I read it for the first time today! I am posting this because I think it is worth reading. And reading again, and then again.

We love Him, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
239. The Hound of Heaven
By Francis Thompson  (1859–1907)
I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.         5
      Up vistaed hopes I sped;
      And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
  From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
      But with unhurrying chase,        10
      And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
      They beat—and a Voice beat
      More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’        15
          I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
  Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
        Yet was I sore adread        20
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside).
But, if one little casement parted wide,
  The gust of His approach would clash it to.
  Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,        25
  And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
  Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars;
        Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;        30
  With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
        From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
  I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,        35
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
  Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
  Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
      But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,        40
    The long savannahs of the blue;
        Or whether, Thunder-driven,
    They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
  Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.        45
      Still with unhurrying chase,
      And unperturbèd pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
      Came on the following Feet,
      And a Voice above their beat—        50
    ‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’
I sought no more that after which I strayed
  In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
  Seems something, something that replies,        55
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
  With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.        60
‘Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;
  Let me greet you lip to lip,
  Let me twine with you caresses,
    Wantoning        65
  With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
    Banqueting
  With her in her wind-walled palace,
  Underneath her azured daïs,
  Quaffing, as your taintless way is,        70
    From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’
    So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.        75
  I knew all the swift importings
  On the wilful face of skies;
  I knew how the clouds arise
  Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
    All that’s born or dies        80
  Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;
  With them joyed and was bereaven.
  I was heavy with the even,
  When she lit her glimmering tapers        85
  Round the day’s dead sanctities.
  I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
  Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;        90
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
    I laid my own to beat,
    And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.        95
For ah! we know not what each other says,
  These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
  Let her, if she would owe me,       100
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
  The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
    My thirsting mouth.
    Nigh and nigh draws the chase,       105
    With unperturbèd pace,
  Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
    And past those noisèd Feet
    A voice comes yet more fleet—
  ‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me!’       110
Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
    And smitten me to my knee;
  I am defenceless utterly.
  I slept, methinks, and woke,       115
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
  I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—       120
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
  Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;       125
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
  Ah! is Thy love indeed       130
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
  Ah! must—
  Designer infinite!—
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?       135
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
  From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.       140
  Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;       145
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsèd turrets slowly wash again.
  But not ere him who summoneth
  I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;       150
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
  Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
  Be dunged with rotten death?
      Now of that long pursuit       155
    Comes on at hand the bruit;
  That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
    ‘And is thy earth so marred,
    Shattered in shard on shard?
  Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!       160
  Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
  How hast thou merited—       165
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
  Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
  Save Me, save only Me?       170
All which I took from thee I did but take,
  Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
  All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:       175
  Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
  Halts by me that footfall:
  Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
  ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,       180
  I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’
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Cheap Thread

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Cheap Thread Acts like Cheap Thread

I heard this sentence yesterday when a person I know said it.

She was referring most definitely to thread and to nothing else.

She was using cheap thread and the thread was breaking and snapping. It really wasn’t very useful for her purpose. “A real seamstress wouldn’t use this thread” she lamented.

I thought that her observation was fascinating and I began to think of other areas of life where her cheap thread analogy could apply.

Please don’t misunderstand me.

I love cheap. I love thrift stores. I love good deals. Cheap is good. If such a thing as cheap didn’t exist, I wouldn’t exist. If everything I bought was at the original price, I would be standing on the street corner with a metal cup.

So all of you DIY’ers out there can simmer down, because I am not here to put my nose up in the air and say that everything that is cheap doesn’t have value.

But we all have that memory in our heads of when we bought something cheap and it didn’t last. That $2 shirt that exploded in your washer. Those $0.50 pens you bought that lasted two sentences into your first great novel outline. How about that on sale day old bread that really did have something growing in it when you got it home? Or don’t forget the cheap paint that didn’t seem to get brighter no matter how many coats you put on your wall.

What I am trying to say in a nice way is: Not everything that is cheap is useful. Sometimes, if it was cheap, it acts cheap. It came easy. It wasn’t hard to get. But then it doesn’t last. It begins to wear down. It starts to snap and break under pressure. It doesn’t hold up. It turns out to not be what we thought it was. Then we get mad and frustrated because it’s just not surviving and it turns out the problem was that it came into our hands cheap. Why did we expect it to act any different?

I see many people on a daily basis. Many of these people seem to treat a lot of thing in their life as if they are cheap. They treat their bodies and their health cheap. They treat their families cheap. They don’t visit them. They get in fights with them. They don’t talk to them for years. As if they had obtained all of these things at the local dollar store at half off. I am not pointing fingers; I am guilty of this as well.

But it makes me wonder:

How many times do I treat my life as if it were cheap thread purchased at the dollar store?

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Life isn’t cheap thread. It’s like the most expensive silk thread that the best seamstress in the world would use. It’s valuable. It’s worth something. 

And it one minute it can all be over.

Trust me, I know.

There is nothing like listening to a heartbeat with a stethoscope and hearing the lub-dub of a human heart. It’s amazing. The heartbeat of a human life.

Then listening again and hearing absolute silence. A heart that has stopped beating.

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I will not live on earth forever.

But I will live somewhere forever.  

My life and your life is worth more than cheap thread.

In fact, Someone paid a very large price so that I could have life that lasts forever. And not only me, but anyone who believes in Him.

Jesus said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I will not die forever, I will live forever.

My eternal life was not purchased cheap. It was at the cost of another Life.

“He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on Him.” John 3:36

If cheap thread acts like cheap thread, I hope that my expensive life acts like an expensive life.

Don’t treat your life like it is cheap. Trust in Christ who paid for your life today.

 And if you have trusted Him, don’t forget how valuable your eternal life is.

It’s not cheap thread.

 

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