our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a


(Tyger, Tyger, burning bright.)

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
THE TYGER ~William Blake

 At the funeral for my young neighbor who was killed in Iraq, the Chaplain gave his reading:
... He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

The 23red Psalm. With all its famous comfort, this selection, these words at this time and place, troubled me. These "paths of righteousness" ...

"War is nothing new, and neither are killer strains of religion, pathogens that take hold of a people and send them into paroxysms of violence. War and religion will always be with us; we can't expect to shake them off. But we can ask what it is in religion that might keep the dogs of war on a leash, and what it is that whips them into frenzy and lets them loose. It is reverence that moderates war in all times and cultures, irreverence that urges it on to brutality. The voices that call in the name of God for aggressive war have lost sight of human limitations. They have lost reverence, even when they serve a religious vision. So it is when a people believe that their god commands them to take land from others, or insists that they force others to their way of thinking. Even when the goal of the war is something as noble as freedom or peace, it may be irreverent to think we can impose these goals by force." ~Paul Woodruff, Reverence, Renewing a Forgotten Virtue (and more).
That phrase -- "the presence of my enemies" -- Yet he who made the lamb (and me and you) also made "mine enemies."

All this, the experience of the moment -- the taps, the mother's tears, and I found myself thinking of her lost son as a smiling child. And there, in the middle of winter, comes a bee to buzz around us. He made circles, circles of hope... The bee and the sun shining down on us. Something about it was right and comforting, even as this death was as wrong and sorrowful as this war and this crazy god of some desert (so long ago) that some people still suppose makes their enemy.

Please. Feel the sun on your face. It's why we're here.