The term “call” is often used in the church, and even sometimes outside of church, as a suggestion that God is talking directly to us, informing an action or direction in life. People are called to service of all kinds – service to God, to the poor, to country. While I’ve always been taught to walk carefully away from anyone who actually claims out loud to hear the voice of God, I can only believe that God’s “voice” takes many different forms, and it’s good to be always listening.
George Herbert seems to have another kind of “call” in mind though in his poem from 1633. The Call, one of the poems in his collection The Temple, seems to be a calling out to God, rather than a listening for God’s instructions. These are words of invitation, not command. Please come my way, my truth, my life, my light, my feast, my strength, my joy, my love, my heart. Like any good conversation, perhaps “call” involves listening and talking.
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.
Could a poem be any more simple and direct? Made almost exclusively of single syllable words, it has a clear structure that repeats the three introductory words of each stanza, in case there is any confusion about what God really represents in our lives.
Truth. (A Eucharistic) Feast. Love.
As much as listening for a call, we might also issue an invitation for these things to come more deeply into our lives. And the greatest of these is love. (I Cor. 13:13). Is that our call?
The Eucharist is a sweet call of love. I have been, poor me, often called only to find myself rejected and hated. It is the cost of love, the wound of the true warrior alone on the Cross. Love does not die but at times we do in its service.
True love is not constipated in its relationship with the Other.
The hearing and responding in “call and response” forms of litanies, prayers, readings and of some hymn singing (a historical and continuing part of black and gospel church experience) also reminds us of the interweaving of listening and responding that forms the foundation of our relationship with God. I sang The Call just before the procession at our wedding, yet another place where listening and responding is so important, and so it is a very special piece for Jo and me.
Reblogged this on franiel32.
I recently read a book about TS Eliot’s religious life; I don’t know if I was surprised or not, but Eliot had unstinting praise for George Herbert, putting him in a place with John Donne.