I know that I have life
only insofar as I have love.
I have no love
except it come from Thee.
Help me, please, to carry
this candle against the wind.
They gather like an ancestry
in the centuries behind us:
the killed by violence, the dead
in war, the "acceptable losses"—
killed by custom in self-defense,
by way of correction, as revenge,
for love of God, for the glory
of the world, for peace; killed
for pride, lust, envy, anger,
covetousness, gluttony, sloth,
and fun. The strewn carcasses
cease to feed even the flies,
the stench passes from them,
the earth folds in the bones
like salt in a batter.
And we have learned
nothing. "Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you"—
it goes on regardless, reasonably:
the always uncompleted
symmetry of just reprisal,
the angry word, the boast
of superior righteousness,
hate in Christ's name,
scorn for the dead, lies
for the honor of the nation,
centuries bloodied and dismembered
for ideas, for ideals,
for the love of God!
If we have become a people incapable
of thought, then the brute-thought
of mere power and mere greed
will think for us.
If we have become incapable
of denying ourselves anything,
then all that we have
will be taken from us.
If we have no compassion,
we will suffer alone, we will suffer
alone the destruction of ourselves.
These are merely the laws of this world
as known to Shakespeare:
When we cease from human thought,
a low and effective cunning
stirs in the most inhuman minds.
—Wendell Berry. A timbered choir: the Sabbath poems 1979-1997. New York, Counterpoint, 1992.
Eternal God you have taught us that our bodies are temples of your spirit. Keep us temperate and holy in thought, word and deed so that with all the pure in heart we may see you and be like you.
Arvo Pärt. Sanctus from Berliner Messe.
May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.