Symbols of the world's religions

               

A NIGHTINGALE OF PURE PRAISE

Francis Brabazon

 
Let us first become good workers in the Master's work and sweet singers of his praise. This much is difficult enough and will take many lives to accomplish; for we are born into times that are stiff-necked in courtesy and tight-lipped of lovely speech — for the rivers of rhyme and stately flow disappeared long ago into the sands of materialism.

Forgive us, Beloved, that we have forgotten how to think and speak and act according to your will and the custom of the great singers who were your lovers in the days of song; for the difference between Man and Animal is that of loving service and sweet song.

Give our hands skill in servantship and loosen our tongues in praise. Teach us to build fair temples of heart and decorate their walls with the texts of your Name — places in which you will feel comfortable and so will enjoy visiting sometimes.

Let each temple be a life-stone on the long road to the dust of your feet where even song will lose itself in the silence and wonder of WHO YOU ARE.

But without your gift of love how can we build any place delightful to your eye, or sing any song pleasing to your ear?

We have toiled in quarries and set stone upon stone in seeming proportion, and when the house was finished, called our friends together for the dedication feast. But you did not enter in and accept the seat set for you; and soon after, the armies of our own greed and lust and anger razed it to the ground.

We have laboured with words, compiling books of knowledge and wisdom. But their publication was not sealed by your touch; and soon the flames of our own hatred reduced them to ash. The history of man is in stone and books reduced to dust and ash.

We can endure all things, Beloved, even the ash of countless lives, so long as some day you breathe on that ash and from it arises a nightingale of pure praise.

 

Embers are cinders after the pain of burning
Is ended. And ash is cold after rain.

There was music and laughter in the early night,
But music and stars both die in the morning light.

Hope extended is a net drawing dead fishes,
And the exultant wave embraces barren beaches.

Religion is singing; but since song dies, who can prove
That his God is the greater truth, his Beloved the fairer love?

In the end one can lay down only one ethic:
Love abhors hypocrisy in poet, banker or beatnik.

The lights dim, and the dance ends always on a half-close;
Oh, that from the dawn-ash the Nightingale begin its song to the Rose!

Love is the gift of the Master; it became in the billow:
The Rose is God's lips left on the Bride's snowy pillow.

 

THE EAST-WEST GATHERING, pp. 16-17
1963 © Meher House Publications

               

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