Grey Evening Sky
It’s already early evening, and it seems I haven’t accomplished much of anything today. In fact, I seem to have gone backwards when it comes to getting things done. For example, I started writing a post for tomorrow and then abandoned it. Now the day is almost over and I’m not sure what it was all about. My comments follow Amy’s poem.
Grey Evening Sky
Thy day is almost done;
How few the victories won;
How slow thy crawl, thou who didst hope to fly!
Thou who has often told
Of shining, heavenly gold,
How grey thine evening sky!
Why art thou thus, merely a cumberer?
Was ever broken vessel emptier?
Be still, mine enemy;
I hear another word:
With music of the heart
Unto thy Lord.”
Amy Carmichael, Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael, p. 329;
© 1999, The Dohnavur Fellowship, published by Christian Literature Crusade.
First published in Fragments That Remain (compiled by Bee Trehane) 1987
This poem hits close to home. I know about my internal voice that comes out of the woodwork to judge me harshly, putting me down. It seems Amy also knows a thing or two about this. In the opening stanza of the poem she seems to be taunting herself. She seems to believe she’s useless. Or worse, a cumberer.
Here’s my version of what her internal voice says:
- You’re nothing but a pile of stinking you-know-what, smack in the middle of the path.
- Can’t you see you’re an annoying hindrance to people who are going places and doing things that are really important?
- You’re a burden! Definitely more trouble than you’re worth.
- Just look at you! You’re supposed to be part of God’s great plan to bring beautiful blessings to all these people around you, and you’re totally empty. As empty and useless as a broken flower vase.
- In fact, you’re good for nothing but to be thrown out!
Whose voice is this? It seems to be the enemy’s voice. It’s clearly enemy-like. Yet in fact, it’s most likely Amy’s assessment of herself and her day.
I think her use of “thy” and “thou” means she’s talking to and about herself. Perhaps as though she were judging her day instead of leaving that to God? In any case, her assessment is anything but positive. Whatever this day was supposed to be about, she has made a royal mess of it.
Thankfully, her internal voice gets interrupted: “Be still, mine enemy.” In its place, Amy hears a gracious, inviting word that offers another way to end the day. Sing! Make melody!
Early last week I was at loose ends. I felt like a cumberer, a burden to myself and to everyone else around me. Drifting along, not knowing what to do with myself. On a slow ride down the hill to despair.
My internal voice got going. Since I was alone in the house, I began singing one of my favorite hymns out loud. In short order, tears followed.
My heart started melting. I thought about family members and friends who’ve been faithful to me over the years. Not in spite of, but along with seeing the chips and cracks in me. Not as God sees them, but the way we see and know each other as God’s human creatures. Making our way as best we can, forgiving and being patient with one another, making music of the heart together.
Music isn’t a magic cure. The grey evening sky, whether caused by me or not, still descends from time to time.
I’m grateful for Amy Carmichael’s self-reflective poetry. It helps me put some of this into words that heal and give me hope. It also helps me connect with God who gives me one day at a time, no matter how I feel about myself.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 June 2015
Image from hdwallpapers.cat