[Church at Bemerton]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 36: Morning


In time of service seal up both thine eies,

And send them to thine heart; that spying sinne,

They may weep out the stains by them did rise:

Those doores being shut, all by the eare comes in.

   Who marks in church-time others symmetrie,

   Makes all their beautie his deformitie.

     In time of service seal up both your eyes, and send them to [examine] your heart. That spying sin, they may weep out the stains [which] occur because of them. Those doors being shut, all by the ear comes in. Who marks in church time others' symmetry makes all their beauty his deformity.

     When we enter church for a service, concentrate on why we are here. Having given up all worldly thoughts, close your eyes and focus on yourself. This is not a selfish exercise, but one of self recognition and improvement. Remember what sins you have committed since you were here last. What offenses weigh on you. What concerns take your mind and actions away from God. Consider all imperfections carefully and sincerely; be deeply sorry for each of them, ask forgiveness and let them fall away from you. All errors, large and small, unconscious and intentional, separate us from God. This is one time to discover and correct the chasm that divides us.

     All visual distractions are cut out, and the sounds of church replace them. Silence and music welcome the visitor. These and other sounds are different from everyday noises. As he/she enters into "church-time," only beauty and perfection reach him. He experiences the symmetry of silence and sound. Confronted by the perfection of music and the eternity of silence, we recognize our mortal imperfections. Against this heavenly presence sits the servant’s deformity, infirmity and discordant imperfections. Prepare for the healing.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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