Thursday, 6 September 2007

Ought Everyone to be as beloved as this?

Among thousands of Princess of Wales anniversary stories this week — not really my scene — the best, for me, by several thousand miles, was a moving, sensitive and thoughtful article by Ruth Gledhill on her blog, about some personal brief encounters with the Princess, well hidden below the fold, but worth digging out for reflection if you have any feelings at all about this subject.

The day after Diana died I read the 8·00 congregation in Sandhurst (where I was Rector) some words of the 17th century mystic, Thomas Traherne (1636/7-1674):
Suppose a curious and fair woman. Some have seen the beauties of Heaven in such a person. It is a vain thing to say they loved too much. I dare say there are ten thousand beauties in that creature which they have not seen: They loved it not too much, but upon false causes. Nor so much upon false ones, as only upon some little ones. They love a creature for sparkling eyes and curled hair, lily breasts and ruddy cheeks which they should love moreover for being God's Image, Queen of the Universe, beloved by Angels, redeemed by Jesus Christ, an heiress of Heaven, and temple of the Holy Ghost: a mine and fountain of all virtues, a treasury of graces, and a child of God. But these excellencies are unknown. They love her perhaps, but do not love God more: nor men as much: nor Heaven and Earth at all. And so, being defective to other things, perish by a seeming excess to that. We should be all Life and Mettle and Vigour and Love to everything; and that would poise us. I dare confidently say that every person in the whole world ought to be beloved as much as this: And she if there be any cause of difference more than she is. But God being beloved infinitely more, will be infinitely more our joy, and our heart will be more with Him, so that no man can be in danger by loving others too much, that loveth God as he ought.
Centuries ii.68

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