Across the Abyss

30 10 2013

Dives could afford colored flaxen clothing, garments made with purple only people of the highest rank could possess. He could help himself to sumptuous, gourmet meals three and four times a day.

Eleazar, sickly and desperately poor, could help himself to nothing, and he was thus given the nickname Lazarus. Left at the back gate of the Dives mansion, he begged to share the rich man’s garbage with the pariah dogs.

As it does for all of us, the time came for each of those two to die.

Angels escorted Eleazar to Paradise, where the Patriarch Abraham welcomed him.

Dives found himself lost to the Pit. Allowed to perceive an appearance of Eleazar in the embrace of Abraham at an eternal distance, Dives screamed, “Father! Father Abraham! How can it be that I am here and not there? Am I not your son, too? And a better one?”

“Son,” said Abraham, “does this long-standing Word sound at all familiar? ‘For the poor shall never cease out of the land. Therefore I command thee: thou shalt in thy land open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy.’

“And this Word? ‘He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; that which he hath given will He pay him again.’

“And this Word? ‘Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.’ ”

“Why this apparition?” Dives cried. “If you must torment me with old words, try tormenting me as well with fresh water. Send Eleazar to flick as little as a drop onto my parched tongue. This flame is hell!”

Abraham, who once upon a time had himself been rich, answered, “Son, remember that you felt right in believing you had a right to your blessings, and to covet the many good things you received. In your self-righteousness, you believed yourself worthy of them. My son Eleazar received no such things, not from you. As my son and our Master makes clear, ‘From the one to whom much has been given, much will be required.’

Eleazar was gracious enough to allow the dogs to lick his sores. You, however, allowed time for Grace and graciousness to pass squandered. Eleazar is now in comfort, and you are now in agony.

“Furthermore, a great and fathomless abyss exists between you and us. Anyone among us wanting to cross to you cannot do so, and no one from there can do likewise and cross to us.”

Dives wept, “Father Abraham, I beg you! Then send Eleazar to my father’s house and to my five brothers so he can frighten them away from this place of anguish.”

Abraham answered, “The Word of Moses and all the Prophets remains. How many times and in how many ways did they say you shall love your neighbor as yourself? How many times and in how many ways did they reveal the source, the spring, the Spirit of that Love? Your brothers can listen to them.”

“No, father Abraham,” Dives pleaded. “They will not listen. But if someone from the dead goes to haunt them…”

Abraham said, “Son, you know as well as I that people listen only to ghosts they believe do not exist. If people will not listen to Moses and the Prophets speaking as inspired by the Holy Ghost, they will not listen to Someone―my son and our Master—even when He does indeed rise from the dead.”


D. Raymond-Wryhte

(Luke 16:19-31)


Voices of Duty Call

30 10 2013
Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover’s pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall. 

All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried, “Abide, abide,”
The willful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass said, “Stay,”
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed, “Abide, abide,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall.” 

High o’er the hills of Habersham,
Veiling the valleys of Hall,
The hickory told me manifold
Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall
Wrought me her shadowy self to hold,
The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine,
Overleaning, with flickering meaning and sign,
Said, “Pass not, so cold, these manifold
Deep shades of the hills of Habersham,
These glades in the valleys of Hall.” 

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook-stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl,
And many a luminous jewel lone
–Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet and amethyst–
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall. 

But oh, not the hills of Habersham,
And oh, not the valleys of Hall
Avail: I am fain for to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call–
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the main,
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to turn,
And a myriad flowers mortally yearn,
And the lordly main from beyond the plain
Call o’er the hills of Habersham,
Calls through the valleys of Hall. 

Sidney Lanier
Appalachian Stream


First-Day Thoughts

27 10 2013

In calm and cool and silence, once again
I find my old accustomed place among
My brethren, where, perchance, no human tongue
Shall utter words; where never hymn is sung,
Nor deep-toned organ blown, nor censer swung,
Nor dim light falling through the pictured pane!
There, syllabled by silence, let me hear
The still small voice which reached the prophet’s ear;
Read in my heart a still diviner law
Than Israel’s leader on his tables saw!
There let me strive with each besetting sin,
Recall my wandering fancies, and restrain
The sore disquiet of a restless brain;
And, as the path of duty is made plain,
May grace be given that I may walk therein,
Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain,
With backward glances and reluctant tread,
Making a merit of his coward dread,
But, cheerful, in the light around me thrown,
Walking as one to pleasant service led;
Doing God’s will as if it were my own,
Yet trusting not in mine, but in His strength alone.

John Greenleaf Whittier


In His Care Confiding

25 10 2013

On the good and faithful
God has set His love;
When they call He sends them
Blessings from above.

Stand in awe, and sin not,
Bid your heart be still;
Through the silent watches
Think upon His will.

 Anxious and despairing,
Many walk in night;
But to those that fear Him
God will send His light.

 In His care confiding,
I will sweetly sleep,
For the Lord, my Saviour,
Will in safety keep.

Psalm 4

(as adapted for the 1912 Psalter of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America)


Going for Water

23 10 2013

The well was dry beside the door,
And so we went with pail and can
Across the fields behind the house
To seek the brook if still it ran;

Not loth to have excuse to go,
Because the autumn eve was fair
(Though chill), because the fields were ours,
And by the brook our woods were there.

We ran as if to meet the moon
That slowly dawned behind the trees,
The barren boughs without the leaves,
Without the birds, without the breeze.

But once within the wood, we paused
Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,
Ready to run to hiding new
With laughter when she found us soon.

Each laid on other a staying hand
To listen ere we dared to look,
And in the hush we joined to make
We heard, we knew we heard the brook.

A note as from a single place,
A slender tinkling fall that made
Now drops that floated on the pool
Like pearls, and now a silver blade.

Robert Frost

Going for Water

Showers of Blessing

22 10 2013
  • There shall be showers of blessing—
    Precious reviving again;
    Over the hills and the valleys,
    Sound of abundance of rain.
  • There shall be showers of blessing;
    Send them upon us, O Lord!
    Grant to us now a refreshing;
    Come, and now honor Thy Word.
  • There shall be showers of blessing:
    This is the promise of love;
    There shall be seasons refreshing,
    Sent from the Savior above.
  • There shall be showers of blessing;
    O that today they might fall,
    Now as to God we’re confessing,
    Now as on Jesus we call!
  • Showers of blessing,
      Showers of blessing we need;
    Mercy-drops round us are falling,
        But for the showers we plead.
  • There shall be showers of blessing,
    If we but trust and obey;
    There shall be seasons refreshing,
    If we let God have His way.
  • Daniel Webster Whittle



The Shower

21 10 2013

The landscape, like the awed face of a child,
Grew curiously blurred; a hush of death
Fell on the fields, and in the darkened wild
The zephyr held its breath.

No wavering glamour-work of light and shade
Dappled the shivering surface of the brook;
The frightened ripples in their ambuscade
Of willows thrilled and shook.

The sullen day grew darker, and anon
Dim flashes of pent anger lit the sky;
With rumbling wheels of wrath came rolling on
The storm’s artillery.

The cloud above put on its blackest frown,
And then, as with a vengeful cry of pain,
The lightning snatched it, ripped and flung it down
In ravelled shreds of rain:

While I, transfigured by some wondrous art,
Bowed with the thirsty lilies to the sod,
My empty soul brimmed over, and my heart
Drenched with the love of God.

James Whitcomb Riley