A terror-haunted wold | From an Old Soul
A “wold” is a hilly, elevated, somewhat wild stretch of land found especially in Great Britain. Often unsuitable for human habitation. Often windy, with unpredictable weather and dark nights. Prone to terrors like those George MacDonald describes in his July 1 sonnet. My comments on today’s sonnet follow.
Lord, let my soul o’erburdened then feel thee
Thrilling through all its brain’s stupidity.
If I must slumber, heedless of ill harms,
Let it not be but in my Father’s arms;
Outside the shelter of his garment’s fold,
All is a waste, a terror-haunted wold.—
Lord, keep me. ‘Tis thy child that cries. Behold.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress Press 1994
Sometimes things come together in ways that horrify us. Especially when they involve pain, suffering and death. Here’s my personal response to MacDonald’s timely sonnet.
How do I sleep at night?
How do I sleep during the day?
How do I sleep at all?
My child body knows
This “terror-haunted wold”
This wildly unpredictable
Waste of unimaginable harms
How to slumber
Heedless of ill harms?
How to keep my mind
From churning in the night?
Homegrown terrors multiply
My adrenalin-driven mind
spins out scenarios
Where to find safety?
Where to find comfort?
The Lord is my shepherd
I shall not want
Jesus loves me
This I know
For the Bible
Tells me so
Suffer the little children
to come unto me, and forbid them not:
for of such is the kingdom of heaven
“Lord, keep me. ‘Tis thy child that cries. Behold.”
* * *
The Light of Life is stronger than the deepest despair of this world. I celebrate Hope, Peace and Joy in this Advent season. I also welcome this focused opportunity for personal reflection, not unlike Lent.
The darkness of my “terror-haunted wold” isn’t limited to this age or to the month before Christmas. It surrounds my life from birth to death. Yet it’s no match for the Light of Life. Or for the One whose eager arms wait, aching to shelter me not from all harms, but to hold me, “heedless of ill harms.”
This doesn’t mean I won’t get harmed or die. It means I can give up my hopeless, joyless efforts to ensure a level of so-called safety I can never achieve. Instead, I can rest assured. I can sleep day or night, “heedless of ill harms.”
Someone greater than I will hold me fast inside “the shelter of his garment’s fold.” If I’m willing to give up my own “brain’s stupidity.”
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 December 2016