As I sat beside the fire
A chill descended upon the room
The remnants of a funeral pyre
A guide as if from fabled Tyre.
A spirit from beyond the pale
Standing in the dim lit night
Aged and beautiful seemed her fate
Her visage a grim and fearful light.
My voice choked up in stuttering fear
As silently her form drew near
With gaze to penetrate my soul
And hand outstretched her voice was clear.
“Thou art a man with life near due
And soul impure as time escapes
Your fate a one all men should rue
Lest days afore thee be reshaped.”
“Wherewith my sin?” I did implore
With knees that dropped to polished floor
“Hath I not in faith prevailed
With wife in chastity and more?”
Then boldly I spoke in further turn,
“In church I weekly spent
Fair time with family there to learn
God’s Word as time was lent.”
With fearful eyes she did respond
“Chaste do think thou art?
Of treasure thy full heart was fond
And whole entwined a foolish heart,”
“Of monies saved up for thyself
To secure and ward off strife
Placing trust on homely shelf
Safeguard a narrow, fleeting life,”
“Excuses crafted needing more
For children, house and care
From fear of poverty at thy door
Through faith in coin, not prayer.”
“For the hungered, lonely heart
Thou left to others for their part
And thought it bout the needs of them
When t’was thy own thy did not ken.”
I then replied with shaking voice
“But who art thou both fell and grim?
I know not thy face nor home
Only that my heart wanes dim.”
“I am the widow with copper coins
Whom at the temple Christ enjoined
As witness for all men to see
Mute, atoning charity.”
“To give from wealth or measure less
Tis pride in all men own
And doing so are thus possessed
By idols they have sown.”
The cold, ethereal prophetess
In stillness then held trial
My life replayed before my eyes
A store of selfish, hurtful guile.
Those lives I’d cast aside
In pursuit of passing pleasures
Rejection of His holy bride
Forgot in careless leisure.
In grief I bowed my head and wept
to choices clung and faith un-kept
And spoke in barely lucid words
Uncertain if my sorrows heard.
“Not worthy as a son am I
I see this plain, but humbly ask
Be it His will that I may live
A life renewed shall be my task.”
As time then passed I cannot say
Minutes or hours marked my dismay
In silence a desolate heart cried out
A soul adrift in sea of drought.
With grain of courage my head arose
But she was gone, if ever there
My mind in doubt in moments chose
A dream or childish nightmare?
Arising on unsteady feet
Thoughts still confused, heart in retreat
Two coins on floor afore me lay
Gift of the shade both fair and fey.
In that I learned the lesson dear
By receiving gift bestowed through pain
T’was in His glory He would deign
To expect from each of us the same.
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We hope you will join us in The Imaginative Conservative community. The Imaginative Conservative is an online journal for those who seek the True, the Good and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts, and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, Richard Weaver, M.E. Bradford, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson, Paul Elmer More, and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism. Some conservatives may look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.” The Imaginative Conservative offers to our families, our communities, and the Republic, a conservatism of hope, grace, charity, gratitude, and prayer.
Editor’s Note: The featured image is “Prophet Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta” (1630s) by Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.