You Must Sit Down, Says Love

Ford Madox Brown, “Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet”

Spiritual Sunday

Like many people, I love the 23rd psalm above all other psalms, and it has inspired some of the most gorgeous hymns in the Episcopalian hymnal. As the psalm is part of today’s liturgy, I am eager to learn which of those hymns we will be singing.

The 23rd psalm also provides the foundational image for one of George Herbert’s most beloved poems. In Psalmist confidently declares, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies,” and although Herbert’s anxiious speaker is far less assured, the table is prepared for him all the same:

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back 
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack 
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                             Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                             My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                             So I did sit and eat.

In church today, I will attempt to open myself up and allow myself to be served.

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