Candles, Catacombs, Catafalques, and Crypts
I don’t know exactly why Poly whispered the title’s words into my ears this morning. It might have something to do with this being the day for the letter “C,” (see A to Z Challenge Calendar on sidebar at left), but I think it has more to do with the fact that this is Holy Week. As I reflect each day upon this week that is supremely sacred to me, and in anticipation of the day I value above all others, I have selected some passages from other writers, followed by my own meditations.
“My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light. ”
—–Edna St. Vincent Millay, “First Fig”
The waxy scent of sputtered flame
Still lingers in the night.
Love, who lived and knew my name
Is spent; dark has defeated light.
“My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labor.”
—–Edgar Allen Poe, from “The Cask of Amontillado”
I’ll quit asking why. There won’t be anyone there to answer me anyway.
I’ll think about the best things. I can remember the walks we would take together. We would wake in the darkest hours of morning and quietly step outside so we would not startle the others awake. Besides, I cherished the times I could spend with him alone. We walked out to meet the dawn, but in my heart, it was the dawn that rose to meet him. He was the brighter light, a light the sun could only reflect. I’ll remember the Light.
And now the Light has gone, and I walk in its pale reflection to finish my labors in the work that death has already begun. I cannot stand the thought of his body lying there in the damp and boasting darkness. Why, Lord? Why? No. I’ll quit asking why. I’ll remember the best things. I’ll remember the Love.
“According to the recollection of one of his friends, Ward Hill Lamon, President Abraham Lincoln told him that he had dreamed the night of April 4, 1865, ‘I heard the subdued sobs of mourners and saw a corpse lying on a catafalque. . . I asked a soldier standing guard, ‘Who is dead?’”
In grief almost past bearing, Mary of Magdala wept;
The stone which once had sealed the tomb
mysteriously pushed aside.
“Why are you mourning, foolish woman?
Who is it you weep for?
Who do you think has died?”
Because the bee may blameless hum
For thee a bee do I become
List even unto me.
Because the flowers unafraid
May lift a look on thine, a maid
Alway a flower would be.
Nor robins, robins need not hide
When thou upon their crypts intrude
So wings bestow on me.
Or petals, or a dower of buzz
That bee to ride, of flower of furze
I that way worship thee.
—–Emily Dickinson, No. 869, “Because a Bee May Blameless Hum”
In every dawn of every day,
Long after I am gone from here –
As it has always been the way
Of perfect Love, to cast out fear –
You will rejoice, and know My peace
That I have given you
And feel the grip of night release
Your heart, and give you life anew.
There is no crypt, nor tomb engraved
Where death and darkness hide
From which your life cannot be saved,
Redeemed, and sanctified.
The world is turning, ever,
Toward the morning from the night
To show that darkness cannot sever
God’s creation from God’s Light.
Upon you all, my Gentle Readers, I ask God’s continued blessing of the abundance of enough. . .