Don’t you love interruptions?
This photo is one of my favorites from our visit to Crater Lake. Well worth at least a haiku if not a full poem, don’t you think? Yet every time I pondered it, I felt mesmerized by the sound of the water. Period. Nothing else would come.
Then I came across a lovely poem by Amy Carmichael. It’s from another time and in a language we no longer speak. Yet knowing a bit about Amy’s life and my own, I knew her poem below and this photo were a match.
Amy Carmichael is one of many early pioneers who, in the early 1900s, devoted their lives to making a difference for children trapped in slavery of many kinds. Amy’s focus was on young girls sold into temple slavery that often included being prostituted. She lived over 50 years in India without ever going home to Ireland.
One of Amy’s spiritual practices was to meditate on nature. South India offered more than enough material. She discerned God everywhere. Not simply as a neutral force for good, but as the God she met in Christian scripture and saw reflected in nature.
The poem below hit a nerve in me. Interruptions have been the bane of my life. I’m not a naturally laid-back, easy-going person. Not surprising, given my childhood. Control was the name of the game. My father played it with me, and I tried to play it with him.
My recovery has been an adventure in letting go. Not just of people or goals or things I thought I couldn’t live without, but also letting go of my need for zero interruptions in my life. To say nothing of my internal and external distress when they happen.
Imagine you’re this fair river. Or sitting on its bank.
I sat upon the bank of a fair river,
Of that which lay in it to greet my spirit;
Nor did I greatly care
To look for lessons on a day so lovely,
My thoughts being otherwhere.
But as, regardless, I regarded fondly
The manner of its flow, The silver flash, the mazy dance, the mellow
Lights of the underglow
Where brown and amber mixed, and little fishes
In bright shoals come and go,
I marked how sunken rock that intercepted
Its swiftly ordered race
It welcomed, as it were a benediction,
Set in the appointed place—
And covered as with soft caress, the wrinkles
Of that untoward face.
Or if forbiddingly the rock uplifted
Its countenance and frowned,
The stream accepted the unkindly thwarting
With smiles that would abound
In sparkles, light-tossed spray like silver laughter,
As it slipped smoothly round.
Forgiveness, Lord! O send forth Thy swift lightnings;
Cause them to scorch and slay
That which in me to the occasion lendeth
Effectual power to fray
The edges of my patience. O grant to me
To live the river’s way.
Amy Carmichael, Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael
© 1999, The Dohnavur Fellowship, published by Christian Literature Crusade
First published in Made in the Pans by Amy Carmichael (no date)
* * * * *
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 November 2014
Photo Credit: DAFraser, September 2014