I was at a recent funeral of a friend of mine who was an avid fan of the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh. But more than that, a person who saw in Patrick Kavanagh the life of the farmer, poet and mystic completely intertwined. Someone who communed so readily with God through Nature, and who through his words could open this connection in us.
This time of year, as the seasons move from Autumn into full blown Winter days, and all of nature seems to close down and die a bit (and we do too) it is easy to sense deeply loss, failure and diminishment through the shortening of days and growing darkness. It seems all Life has gone to shelter underground, harvesting, savouring and saving its potential to burst forth and flower in the light-filled days to come. And come they will.
The following lines by Patrick Kavanagh express a valued way to move towards the ‘resurrection of hope’ in bleak times, so that we can never lose heart.
Can a person grow from the dead clod of failure
Some consoling flower
Something humble as a dandelion or a daisy
Something to wear as a buttonhole in Heaven.
Under the flat, flat grief of defeat maybe
Hope is a seed
Maybe this is what we were born for, this hour
Maybe it is here we must search
In this hell of unfaith
Where no one has a purpose
Where the web of Meaning is broken threads
And one person looks at another in fear.
O God can a person find You when they lie with their face downwards
And their nose in the rubble that was their achievement
Is the music playing behind the doors of despair
O God give us a purpose.
(adapted from Patrick Kavanagh, ‘From Failure Up’).