“Riding Westward”

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Good Friday,1613. Riding Westward by John Donne

“Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then in this,
The intelligence that moves devotion is,
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motions, loose their own.
And being by others hurried everyday,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey:
Pleasure or business, so our souls admit,
For their first mover and, our souls are whirled by it.
Hence it is that I am carried toward the West,
This day when my souls form bends towards the East.
There I should see a sun, by rising set.
And by that setting endless days beget;
Unless Christ on this cross did rise and fall,
Sin would have eternally benighted all ……….”

As I read this poem my attention was drawn to the idea of hurriedness being a distraction.  Author Richard Foster speaks about this same idea in his book “Celebration of Discipline” when he says,  “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things; noise, hurry, and crowds.  If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.”  So what are we to do?  Foster goes on to say “If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation.”  It is important to understand that in speaking of meditation Foster is not referring to mysticism.  He is referring to time spent in prayer and reflection on Scripture.  He is referring to prayer and reflection done in intentional times and places of silence.  More importantly, he is referring to the kind of prayer and reading that is done with an attentive heart, a heart that is alert to what God has to say.  For, it is only when we spend time listening to God that, as Paul says, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.  However, this transformation is not done on our own.  It is a transformation that take place from within.  It is a transformation that is an act of the Spirit.  And, it is only when we under go this transformation by the Spirit that our fleshly desires begin to die.


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