Home Teaching, Hopkins, Haunting

NOTE: I wrote most of this yesterday, but thought perhaps it was too sentimental. This morning it seems horribly appropriate, as I’m praying (and crying) for Geoff’s little boy.

Kaimi’s post puts me in mind of a favorite poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins (“golly,” you say, “it doesn’t take much to get her going, does it?”):

The Lantern out of Doors

Sometimes a lantern moves along the night.
That interests our eyes. And who goes there?
I think; where from and bound, I wonder, where,
With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?

Men go by me whom either beauty bright
In mould or mind or what not else makes rare:
They rain against our much-thick and marsh air
Rich beams, till death or distance buys them quite.

Death or distance soon consumes them: wind,
What most I may eye after, be in at the end
I cannot, and out of sight is out of mind.

Christ minds: Christ’s interest, what to avow or amend
There, eyes them, heart wants, care haunts, foot follows kind,
Their ransom, their rescue, and first, fast, last friend.

The bloggernacle is the road I look out at in the night, full of bobbing lanterns that catch my eye and my heart for a minute. Most often, it’s the little bits of things that barely get said that stick in my head, make me watch until the lantern disappears from sight–anne’s one line about her son committing suicide, Stephen’s occasional mention of Robin or Courtney or Jessica, the bloggernacle-announced babies–Mia, Emma, Truman, Mary, Conner, Alison (a toddler already, not inspiring late-night, colic-exhausted musings from her daddy anymore!), the little gasps of pain over unrequited love, bar exam agonies, throw-away lines full of heartbreak (“if we’re able to have children…”). Remember Mother of Triplets a few months back? I’ve wondered every day what she decided, how she and her babies are doing.

In a way, of course, it’s easier to be compassionate at a distance. I don’t have to–*can’t*–really do anything; no casseroles to make, no babysitting to help with, not even a chance to lend a shoulder for crying on. And that makes it harder, too, forcing me to look at people’s pain instead of running from it into busyness. And it makes me pray, too, more sincerely than I usually manage to pray about my own life. I’m forced to ask and allow Christ to mind, and trust that He will, because I can’t do anything else. In at least this one tiny way, “knowing” you in the bloggernacle, watching your lanterns go by, makes me a better Christian. Thanks.

12 comments for “Home Teaching, Hopkins, Haunting

  1. john fowles
    February 25, 2005 at 10:46 am

    Thanks for this insightful post, Kristine. This is one of the many reasons I like the Bloggernacle so much.

  2. cooper
    February 25, 2005 at 11:02 am

    Thank you Kristine. It’s what I like too. Even though we may each have different views or methods or whatever… we each meet at the sacrament table each week. We offer support, love and hope.

  3. Nate Oman
    February 25, 2005 at 11:05 am

    Thanks, Kristine.

  4. February 25, 2005 at 11:39 am

    Thanks, Kristine — this is why we love you.

  5. Andrea Wright
    February 25, 2005 at 11:44 am

    Kristine, I’ve missed you. I hope you never censor your sentimental musings — they’re my favorite posts.

  6. Bryce I
    February 25, 2005 at 12:01 pm

    Oftentimes, the only thing we can do to be compassionate is to let others know we love them, care for them, and are praying for them, whether we are physically near someone suffering or not. We can do this just as well online as in real life. Even better, in some ways.

  7. February 25, 2005 at 12:18 pm

    And thank you, Kristine. Alison, I’m afraid, is still a lousy sleeper, and still wakes up crying much earlier than we would prefer. But it’s a small thing. Please know that your light helps keep more than a few us looking forward, searching and following, holding our laterns aloft rather than hiding them, and for that we owe your own wonderful sentiments very much.

    God bless all us laterns, bobbing along, and fill us with consolation when some are lost to view, or go out.

  8. February 25, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Kristine. When I first got the email from Geoff and read his post, tears ran down my face. I’ve never met him in person and certainly don’t know his boy, but this wonderful thing we call the Bloggernacle has increased my love for all of you and all of those I’ve never met. Beautiful post.

  9. Shawn Bailey
    February 25, 2005 at 1:07 pm

    A moving post, Kristine.

    For the most part I come to the bloggernacle to learn from clever, opinionated, and yet faithful philosophers, lawyers, other literary types, and just smart and faithful people in general. In short, I have mostly thought of it as an intellectual place.

    But as I recalled reading the statements regarding great blessings and painful personal losses to which you referred, I was moved to realize just how important the social and spritual aspects of this community have become to me. Like many here, I usually shy away from revealing personal information, but I appreciate the generousity of those who do not. My thoughts and prayers are with Geoff, his family, and most of all his son. And (perhaps a little less urgently) with everyone else here too.

  10. Matt Evans
    February 26, 2005 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks Kristine, this is very nice. I wish I better knew the lantern bearers.

    Compassion from a distance has been painful for me. When I’m fully aware of suffering and not emotionally distant, nothing hurts worse than not being able to help. Love — the love that “endureth forever” — compels us to do whatever we can, and in those worst-of-all-possible circumstances where there’s nothing we can do, love compels us to comfort and to console and to cry. Having no outlet for Christ-like love, because we’re far from the suffering, is truly agonizing and leads us to pray, in part, to preserve our sanity. Seeing destraught children is especially hard because our love flows to them easily and because we know they’d be especially grateful for our comfort — if only we were there.

    Amulek’s grief from seeing the pains of the women and children burned by fire was surely worse because he couldn’t help them — or mourn with them or even die with them. He was forced to know their pain and do nothing.

    My experience leads me to believe that, with his infinite love and infinite comprehension, the atonement was even more painful for the father than for the son. Were we to have infinite love and infinite comprehension in our mortal state, our bodies would probably die. We survive only because we do not fully love and do not fully comprehend.

  11. annegb
    February 26, 2005 at 3:08 pm

    Wow. What heart.

    That’s what I’ve been trying to say to the sisters about visiting teaching.

    Thanks, Kristine.

  12. Braden
    February 27, 2005 at 8:45 pm

    Lovely work, Kristine. Brava–and thanks!

Comments are closed.