I’d been wanting to try my hand at a roundel ever since encountering one in Malcolm Guite‘s latest poetry collection. When I was pondering the writing prompt “night” from my friend Sarah earlier this month, I thought about the beautiful evening prayer in the Anglican prayer book and based a roundel on that.
This is the prayer:
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
And this is my roundel:
Lord, give us light and shatter by your word
The thick black darkness of this dreadful night.
The gloom is hovering like a deadly sword:
Lord, give us light.
For in the night, our fears take form. The sight
Of walking horrors chills our souls. The world
Has lost her smile. We look around in fright.
Yet in the night, we cling to what we’ve heard:
That you are good, that all you do is right.
Lighten our darkness, we beseech you, Lord.
Lord, give us light.
On 8 August 1953, Lewis wrote one of his many letters to correspondents. This one was to a Mrs Emily McLay in Durham. He had written to her five days previously, responding to an enquiry related to predestination and free will. She appears to have replied, and in his second letter Lewis writes about “dealing with the dark places in the Bible”.
I’ve struggled with these “dark places” myself, along with dark questions on issues such as suffering and predestination, all of which boils down to the haunting question “Is God really good?” An article I saw earlier this week included a quotation from Lewis’ second letter to Mrs McLay, which prompted me to look up the entire letter in volume three of The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis. I’d like to share a beautifully comforting paragraph in his reply about these “dark places”:
“The two things one must NOT do are (a) To believe, on the strength of Scripture or on any other evidence, that God is in any way evil. (In Him is no darkness at all.) (b) To wipe off the slate any passage which seems to show that He is. Behind that apparently shocking passage, be sure, there lurks some great truth which you don’t understand. If one ever does come to understand it, one will see that [He] is good and just and gracious in ways we never dreamed of. Till then, it must be just left on one side.”