Tuesday, March 8, 2016

If thou art the least and lowest

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Isaiah 50:6

It was on a winter's morning
In the days of old,
In his cell sat Father Henry,
Sorrowful and cold.
O my Lord, I am aweary,”
In his heart he spake,
For my brethren scorn and hate me
For Thy blessed sake.
If I had but one to love me
That were joyful cheer—
One small word to make me sunshine
Through the darksome year!
"But they mock me and despise me
Till my heart is stung—
Then my words are wild and bitter,
Tameless is my tongue.”
Then the Lord said, “I am with thee;
Trust thyself to Me;
Open thou thy little casement,
Mark what thou shalt see.”
Then a piteous look and wistful
Father Henry cast
Out into the dim old cloister
And the wintry blast.
Was it that a friend was coming
By some Angel led?
No! a great hound wild and savage
Round the cloister sped.
Some old mat that lay forgotten
Seized he on his way—
Tore it, tossed it, dragged it wildly
Round the cloister gray.
Lo, the hound is like thy brethren,”
Spake the Voice he knew;
If thou are the mat, beloved,
What hast thou to do?”
Meekly then went Father Henry,
And the mat he bare
To his little cell to store it
As a jewel rare.
Many a winter and a summer
Through those cloisters dim,
Did he thenceforth walk rejoicing,
And the Lord with him.
And when bitter words would sting him,
Turned he to his cell,
Took his mat, and looked upon it,
Saying, “All is well.
He who is the least and lowest
Needs but low to lie;
Lord, I thank Thee and I praise Thee
That the mat am I.”
On the cold and footworn pavement
Lies it still and flat,
Raves not if men trample on it,
For it is a mat.”
Then he wept, for in the stillness
His Beloved spake,
Thus was I the least and lowest,
Gladly, for thy sake.
Lo, My face to shame and spitting
Did I turn for thee;
If thou art the least and lowest,
Then remember Me.”
--Heinrich Suso, The Mat