Monday, August 15, 2011

Aaron's clothes

Robinson Jeffers has two wonderful concluding lines to his poem, “To the Stone-Cutters.” He writes that in spite of the ravages of time, “Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found/The honey of peace in old poems.” 

For the past month I’ve been savoring the honey of peace in an old poem by George Herbert (1593-1633). The poem is entitled simply, “Aaron.” Brother of Moses and first High Priest to the Hebrew nation, Aaron was required to don elaborate ceremonial robes before he could minister to the people. (You can read the details in Exodus 28.) This poem about Aaron’s priestly clothes points to our only source of adequacy in ministry and gives me hope. I need this reminder often.

Holiness on the head,
Light and perfections on the breast,
Harmonious bells below raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest:
Thus are true Aarons dressed.

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest:
Poor priest thus am I dressed.

Only another head
I have, another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest:
In Him I am well dressed.

Christ is my only head,
My alone and only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me e'en dead,
That to the old man I may rest
And be in Him new dressed.

So holy in my head,
Perfect and light in my dear breast,
My doctrine tuned to Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come, people; Aaron's dressed.


  1. I've sent this to an Aaron who just became the international director of our mission board. And I've sent it to my friend who has just completed her first year as seminary president. Both were deeply grateful, inspired and convicted. You are a gift and you share gifts. Thank you.

  2. I love it when the gifts get passed around!