Wednesday, November 28, 2007

something to be hoped for

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock,
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder comb
Our childhood used to know”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
--Thomas Hardy

Something to be Hoped for

This poem by Thomas Hardy expresses something that we all feel; that is, it talks about responding to the call of faith even when doubt abounds. The last two lines capture the sentiment perfectly, “I should go with him in the gloom, / Hoping it might be so.” Hardy doesn’t paint an overly romanticized portrait of the state of things. No, he wraps up all of human experiences with one noun: “gloom.” While I’d like to point out that it isn’t all together accurate (I mean c’mon life isn’t all “gloom” it’s filled with joy too!) I recognize that now is the time of the year when life often feels like mere “gloom.” The rains—though we have still got our fair share of sun—are upon us, many have exams, nearly all of us (except the wee ones) are feeling financially pinched with the all the present buying, we’re over committed with Christmas and other holiday events, etc, etc.

Hardy ends with important words, “Hoping it might be so.” They’re the words of someone who’s doubting their belief in God. Still though, I am struck by the fact that the speaker “[goes] Hoping it might be so.” This shows that, despite our emotions and rational arguments, which seem to point us elsewhere, the best counter to the “gloom” is belief in a God who was willing to take on flesh—enter into the “gloom”—and eventually redeem it on the cross.

Maybe you feel as if the “gloom” is overwhelming. Maybe you are struggling with all the pressures that exams and end of term bring with them. Perhaps you’re buckling under the credit card bills that pile up on the kitchen counter. Whatever your situation, I would say come to the one “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Phil. 2:6). There is more than enough in him, more than enough reason to have the assurance to “[hope] it might be so.”


JP said...

Good thoughts; thanks for the poem and meditation, Bryan!

Bryan Halferty said...

Thanks JP. I checked your site out. Looks good!