If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world’s end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.
If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel.
This is an exerpt from Eliot’s The Four Quartets, and it is a vivid description of the experience I have been having this past year, which I can also find described in books like The Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross.
The Latin for “dark” is obsura — obscure. We don’t understand why the removal of our joy, our peace, our dearly loved connection with our Lord is necessary, but we trust that it is. We have prayed to give Him everything, and it turns out that the taking away of everything includes the things we depended on for our faith. These things are not He. As a character in a Charles Williams novel says, “Neither is this Thou.”
We wanted to live for Him. We find we can barely live at all. We wanted to conquer the world for His Kingdom. We find we can not even conquer ourselves.
Even this is too much explanation. It is obscure. I am not here to instruct myself, nor to carry report. I am here to kneel.
*Thanks to Sleight of Hand for sending me to this passage.