Short Talk for the National Day of Reflection, 23rd March 2022 based on Psalm 23 and Matthew 11: 28-30
I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils; beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine and twinkle on the milky way, they stretched in never-ending line along the margin of a bay: ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they out-did the sparkling waves in glee: a poet could not but be gay, in such a jocund company: I gazed–and gazed–but little thought what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie in vacant or in pensive mood, they flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude; and then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth 1802
I have no idea what heaven looks like, but if I were to stand in the very spot that William Wordsworth did some 200 years ago I would have thought that here is a place where heaven meets earth.
Today, the daffodil has become the symbol of reflection, remembering those we knew and loved, but who are no longer with us because of the pandemic. Many of them left us at a time when it was difficult to say our goodbyes, others taken before their time despite the valiant efforts of our health professionals and personal carers. Deaths that have left us lonely and disorientated. Perhaps like the cloud, wandering and wondering, at times our tears falling like rain.
It’s hard, isn’t it, to see beyond the endings and look for hope in the future, yet it surely is there. A glance, a glimpse of brightness, an unexpected movement that catches our attention.
As I said I have no idea what heaven looks like, but to imagine our loved ones, beyond the pain and suffering, to see them once more in their prime, the happy times and memories, dancing gleefully, like the ten thousand or so daffodils that outshone the sparkling waves, must surely be of comfort to us.
Wordsworth describes it as a jocund company meaning cheerful and light-hearted. Here they are at rest, the lightness of God’s yoke no burden at all, and for that we can be grateful
Of course, we could try and stay there in that moment, but eventually we need to return to our ordinary everyday lives. However, that vision is now part of our memory, a wealth of memories to recall in moments of quietness and thoughtfulness, which Wordsworth describes a ‘the bliss of solitude’
Through our experiences we know that solitude can be hard at times, but true solitude can bring great peace as we rest in God’s presence. For many of us these last two years have also been a time of weariness, as both our mental health and reserves of strength have been battered and bruised. Yet today our readings promise us a time of rest and restoration; in Matthew, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ and the beautiful psalm, ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. He shall refresh my soul.’
We have to allow ourselves to hand over to God our cares and worries, our frustrations and our anger. He will take it all and release us to remember those we have loved and see no longer with love and gratitude.
Then in their company our hearts we will once more dance with pleasure not in pain.