“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12
Two and a half months before my father died, he asked me to recite the poem, “L’Envoi,” by Rudyard Kipling at his funeral. He had survived one last Thanksgiving in order to bring the family together. During the Thanksgiving festivities, when everyone was outside my mother’s and father’s home, my father had asked me to join him in the den. There, he introduced me to the Kipling poem and asked me to read it at his funeral. I began to read “L’Envoi,” silently, but my father stopped me after I had read only a few lines, and said, “Wait. Stop. Read it out loud.” I believe, in retrospect, that he knew that he would be dead within months and that he wanted to hear, beforehand, how I would read that poem at his funeral. When I had finished reading it, I said to my father, “I can read it better at your funeral, Daddy.” He told me he was pleased with my reading, and he asked me to read it “like that” at his funeral.
I had been mesmerized by the poem’s visionary beauty after I had finished reading it, and I could only say to my father, “That is beautiful, Daddy.” He smiled and said to me, “This poem is who I am,” as he walked away to be with other family members, once again. Being able to recite “L’Envoi” at his funeral was the greatest gift my father ever gave me.
Here is the last stanza of that poem, which so affected my sensibilities:
“And only the Master shall praise us, and only the
Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall
work for fame;
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of
Things as They Are!”
After the funeral, one of my cousins asked me if I thought that my father was communicating, through the poem, “Don’t worry about my soul entering Heaven or not; my soul will be quite alright, thank you.” I believe my cousin had thought that the last line in “L’Envoi” implied that there was no God – just the Universe “as it is.” I told my cousin that I did not think that that was what my father had intended to communicate, nor did I think that that was what Kipling was saying through his poem. My father was a believer in the Trinity. I told my cousin that I believe the poem says that the Universe – just as it is – is the Mind of God, and that each of us, who sees the Universe from a uniquely different perspective, is able only to see a small part of the Mind of God. That is why each human, invariably, “Shall draw the Thing as he sees It.” And, further, Kipling said that we shall draw our individual perceptions, “for the God of Things as They Are!” It takes all of us together, with our uniquely different perspectives of reality, to understand, more fully, that part of the whole of God that we are able to comprehend through becoming One, together. We are all part of the eternal One, as I had stated in my second posting.
This is why it is almost blasphemous to fail to be true to our uniquely, God-given souls. When we fail to be true to our inner spirits, by living out unexamined group norms, we deprive ourselves, and others, of knowing that part of God which lives only in us.
How to find and follow our unique, inner spirits will be the subject of the next post.