Contemplative Wisdom from T.S. Elliott

From “The Dry Salvages”:

To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits, To report the behaviour of the sea monster, Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry, Observe disease in signatures, evoke Biography from the wrinkles of the palm And tragedy from fingers; release omens By sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitable With playing cards, fiddle with pentagrams Or barbituric acids, or dissect The recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors – To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press: And always will be, some of the especially When there is distress of nations and perplexity Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road.

Men’s curiosity searches past and future And clings to that dimension.  But to apprehend The point of intersection of the timeless With time, is an occupation for the saint – No occupation either, but something given And taken, in a lifetime’s death in love, Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.

For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment, the moment in and out of time, The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight, The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning Or teh waterfall, or music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are the music While the music lasts.  These are only hints and guesses, Hints followed by guesses; and the rest Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.  The hint half-guessed, the gift half understood, is

Incarnation.

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