At about this time last year, I posted about A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. (I haven't been able to find any more recent news on the making of the movie, which is to be written by Barbara Nicolosi.)
Sometimes when people read this book they are taken with the love story between Van and Davy. But, if one doesn't move beyond that, one misses the whole point of the book. The "Shining Barrier" that Vanauken describes was a misshapen, misinformed love, and the fact that it had to be shattered at some point, in some way, becomes clear. If you haven't read the book, definitely put it on your "to read" list. The letters from C.S. Lewis alone are worth it.
Coincidentally, this week one of our priests reminded me of a short poem from the book. What I love about this poem is its straightforward treatment of what a severe mercy is, the seeming paradox. Why would we thank God for losing everything? For the same reason that Sheldon Vanauken was eventually able to thank Him for the most enormous loss in his life. Vanauken was, as C.S. Lewis said, "treated with a severe mercy" (a phrase that comes originally from St. Augustine, who also knew what it meant to be stripped of everything -- read the quote here in this post at Church of the Masses) that helped him to see that ultimately, we can put nothing before God. And, ultimately, we wouldn't want to. Having experienced my own severe mercies, I can only say, "thanks be to God."
If Everything is lost
If everything is lost, thanks be to God
If I must see it go, watch it go,
Watch it fade away, die
Thanks be to God that He is all I have.
And if I have Him not, I have nothing at all.
Nothing at all, only a farewell to the wind
Farewell to the grey sky
Goodbye, God be with you, evening October sky.
If all is lost, thanks be to God,
For He is He, and I, I am only I.
-- Dom Julian
(H/T to Fr. Scott.)
The round-up this week is at the home of Poetry Friday founder, Big A little a.
For more details on Poetry Friday, see this post.