Donne and Again...
“Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”
John Donne –
I was reading through a journal I kept in college and found I had written this Sonnet into it about midway through 1995. And it was appropriate at that. It was very much where life was for me at that point in time; feeling like God was ravishing me, like a crazed Lover. And it seems similarly where things are nowadays too, only not with so much resistance on my part, more like a welcome.
Yeah, there were all the college woes – busyness, finals, girls, etc. What fascinated me reading this 11-year old writing was the intense intimacy that was at hand with God. Reading it made me feel as if there was a flesh and blood person in the room during those years. And after I got over the weird sensation of re-experiencing college I seemed to hear God asking me if I was up for that kind of intimacy at a newer level. It’s not so much being asked to repeat – God never repeats. It was more like the look of a Lover who knows something you don’t, and asks you for your hand, and to hold on tight as He whisks you off and out the door into another surprise.
I once heard a professor in one of my many English classes talk about what an offense this poem was to our idea of God because the language was the language of a raping and pillaging. Yeah, he’s right in one sense. It is offensive... if it isn’t true that God sometimes feels like a madman on the rampage, tearing apart the place to get you, and then when he does, throws himself on you, picks you up and runs out the door carrying you off to some new adventure; slightly asking you if you want to come along, but not really listening since it’s too late, you are out the door of the one who held you captive and wasn’t really for your good afterall…ravished.