Friday, August 16, 2013

Emily Dickinson - Poem Repertoire vol. 4

Emily Dickinson 
They say that "Time assuages" -
Time never did assuage -
An actual suffering strengthens
As Sinews do, with age - 
Time is a Test of Trouble -
But not a Remedy -
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no Malady -
"Time heals all wounds," say amateur therapists who lack enough silver in their coinage to buy some better sense.  Or if they don't go in for aphorisms they might say something more along the lines of, "In the wake of this murderous rampage that left scores of children dead, we need a time of healing" as if a certain collection of weeks or months, maybe salted with some preferred legislation or a nice speech, would remove the holes from the bodies and undo the harm that was done.

Nonsense, says Dickinson.  A real hurt does not heal from time.  Time is no physician, and certainly not the Great Physician.  Instead, time is a test.  If its ministrations work, it isn't by virtue of actual efficacy, but proof that the wound was no wound at all.  Further, "an actual suffering" will get worse over time.

All of this leads to the thought that over time we become bearers of suffering.  It's not a pretty thought.  I've seen it elsewhere in literature, in Trollope's Lily Dale.  And in her case, the suffering seemed as much the result of her determination to admit no possible remedy.  "It is my wound and nothing can be done!"  What of love that nurtured after a true love has passed away?  Can love heal the wounds left by love?  And if so, does that invalidate the love that came first?

And what of Christ?  I wholeheartedly agree with Dickinson that Time is no healer - being deaf and mute. But cannot Christ make all things new?  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Don't trust time to do much good, but trust that within time the Christ who was raised from the dead can also heal a real wound.  And him doing so in no way implies that it wasn't a wound to begin with.