Sunday, April 4, 2010

"A strange bugle call"

It’s Easter morning. Resurrection day. I know my Redeemer lives.

But my friend has died. We received word over the weekend of Anita’s death, and the loss lies heavy on my heart. The poem that has been speaking to me is one C. S. Lewis wrote on the death of his friend, Charles Williams. This is appropriate as we spent many hours with Don and Anita discussing the works of C. S. Lewis. We’ve read this poem aloud together. I share it now.

“To Charles Williams”

Your death blows a strange bugle call, friend, and all is hard
To see plainly or record truly. The new light imposes change,
Re-adjusts all a life-landscape as it thrusts down its probe from the sky,
To create shadows, to reveal waters, to erect hills and deepen glens.
The slant alters. I can’t see the old contours. It’s a larger world
Than I once thought it. I wince, caught in the bleak air that blows on the ridge.
Is it the first sting of the great winter, the world-waning? Or the cold of spring?

A hard question and worth talking a whole night on. But with whom?
Of whom now can I ask guidance? With what friend concerning your death
Is it worth while to exchange thoughts unless—oh unless it were you?


  1. I weep with you. You who have wept on behalf of many must know that we now weep with you. With love and longing, Mary

  2. On Easter Monday (I do not know if they have that in America) I spent some time on your personal blog. I first read the column on the right and found out that you are already a grandmother. My wife and I already have three grandchildren: all of them boys. The youngest one was born only about two months ago. In the Philippines.
    After that I read the text that you wrote on Easter morning. Right away I was struck by the fact that after the word Labels..... the word Death and the word Easter were standing side by side.
    After reading the poem by C.S. Lewis I realized on the one hand that even the most beautiful poem in the world can never compensate for the loss through death of a friend...but on the other hand: both the poem and the meaning that Easter has for us can give us a great deal of comfort. They can make us realize that in our view of life death never has the last word. We know that Christ was the first to be resurrected, but all true followers of Christ will be resurrected as well.

  3. Thank you, Willem. Anita's death has helped me focus on the meaning of Easter, and this will be an ongoing process. No, we don't have Easter Monday in America. But in our local Friends meeting we are celebrating Easter every Sunday in April. How do you celebrate Easter Monday?

  4. Most people in Holland celebrate Easter Monday in the same way as Christmas Monday and Whitsun Monday: just as a free day. Though very few people in Holland are still religious and very few people have any idea of what Christians celebrate at Christmas, Easter and Whitsun we still have two national holidays on these occasions. I would say: purely for historical reasons.

  5. We do indeed have Easter Monday in the U.S.! But "we" is not Americans generally, but Catholics and other Christians who have retained the fourth century custom. For us, Easter Sunday and the following seven days are all high feast days.

    That my mother died on Holy Thursday - the day that Our Lord instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist - was bittersweet for me; and Good Friday was given a new dimension of sorrow. But on Easter Sunday I felt that my mother was with me at Mass, joining in worship of the Risen Lord.

  6. Yes, Todd! Yes, yes yes. This Easter season has special meaning for us, too, in light of your mother's death. And I suspect it will touch on all Easters ever after, for us. I'm glad to know about the seven days following Easter in your Catholic tradition. It sounds rich.